Words by Kaylee Dugan
Photos by Sarah Gerrity
Best if: You’re going to propose tomorrow and forgot to make more personal plans. Also, works if you’re just bougie.
Restaurant within a restaurant, Conosci (which I have never pronounced correctly and probably never will if I’m being honest with myself) has taken on a mind of its own. What started as a love letter to the very raw and very delicate Italian art form that is crudo, under new Chef George Rodrigues the space has expanded into a fully fledged restaurant of it’s own, with an abundance of cooked dishes, and plenty of non-seafood options.
What Conosci hasn’t lost is its wildly romantic atmosphere. Hidden away at the back of Alta Strada, past a velvet curtain and down a darkly painted hallway, Conosci remains small and intimate. The lighting is dim and moody, the service is impeccable and unobtrusive, and owner Michael ‘s dinner playlist demonstrates an insane attention to detail. It’s a killer date spot to say the least.
If you’re an over planner, the sort of person who knows exactly what they’re going to order as soon as you step into the restaurant, Conosci is going to drive you mad. There is no printed menu but the drink menu. The only choice you have when it comes to food is whether you want to go with the $45, $85, or $135 tasting menu. After that, you’re left in the hands of Schlow’s staff, which is not the worst place to find your self. Consider it a culinary vacation. Kick back, order a drink, and let someone else make the hard decisions.
Speaking of drinks, the Junmai Dojo was a personal favorite, it’s gin forward with aloe, lime, with Junmai sake and sparkling sake thrown into the mix. It’s a bright and delicate drink that pairs exceptionally well with the first few starter courses. If you’re looking to do something a little more unusual, the You, Me & Boshi mixes sake, lemon, salted plums, and plum bitters, but I also highly recommend letting the staff pick pairings for you. They won’t lead you wrong.
While Schlow may have moved away from crudo with the new menu, there is still plenty of fresh and inventive takes on seafood. There’s the burst of row on bright white tapioca chips. The delicious salinity of oysters served with a sake syrup, wasabi cream and a sliver of crunchy radish. A personal favorite is a succulent slice of octopus served like a lollipop with a shiitake puree covered in crispy rice. I’ve never had octopus with such a firm, meaty texture. I could easily have twenty more.
Another stand out is the scallop “noodles” (I don’t know how they make them but it’s definitely witchcraft) on a bed of roe, covered with fermented yuca juice and topped with squid ink tuile. Again, the “noodles” texture is perfect, the yuca juice adds a rich buttery flavor and the pop of roe in your mouth takes the dish to the next level. I’m sure constructing squid int tuile is no easy task, but it tastes like the burnt part of a grilled cheese. I love it.
Moving away from seafood, a dish of beets, (fluffier than I previously thought was possible) goat cheese, and pistachios is a riff off of a salad you can get literally anywhere, but damn is it good. It made me wish all beets could taste like those beets. Likewise, the pork belly with pickled persimmon, chicharron, and broccoli took something I’ve eaten a million times and managed to draw out new and interesting flavors. I’m still dreaming of that pork belly.
Conosci may have expanded their menu beyond their original concept, but they’ve managed to maintain the attention to detail and creativity that brought them accolades in the first place. Not many restaurants can pull that off.
Conosci is located at 465 K Street NW. They’re open Tuesday thru Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday thru Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.