* Click here for rating key
Al Dente Restaurant Review: Setting the stage for Roberto Donna’s return to DC’s kitchens, Al Dente showcases the chef’s extravagant Italian cooking, from the pork belly and polenta fries to the salted cod with grilled bread and the roasted red peppers that melt on the tongue. These just initiate a lavish meal, which, if your waistline and wallet can hold up, will take you through both sweet and savory pizzas. Donna’s famous handmade pastas --- try the gnocchi with pork sausage ragù --- are preludes to the serious stuff, the entrées that include braised pork shank, hanger steak with broccoli rabe, and beef short ribs with a Parmigiano-Reggiano potato purée. Less elegant mains may catch your fancy, and these would include a round of spiedini di salsiccia, or hand-made sausages on skewers. Imagine a duck sausage grilled with shallots, apples, peppers and polenta. While you are dipping into the endless bread basket, keep uppermost in your thoughts what to select for dessert. While Donna does offer lighter classic Italian sweets, no one should pass up his tiramisu, a giant portion appropriately titled “hemisphere,” and boasting chocolate sauce and caramelized hazelnuts. For smaller appetites, you can always select the panna cotta, Italy’s classic and rich dessert of “cooked” cream or chocolate salami. Desserts at your discretion are paired with dessert wines. Not surprisingly, both the cocktail and wine lists are strongly Italian in nature.