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Many of the restaurants I visit these days feel like they’re more about the business than the food. And even the ones with heart and soul are new. Very new. Recently I visited Dino’s Grotto, and met with owner Dean and his wife, who have been in this industry for quite some time and still infuse their restaurant with plenty of heart and soul. They invited me in to take a glimpse of the wonderful Italian restaurant they’ve been working on for many years, which used to be in Cleveland Park, and now, has been updated and relocated to trendy Shaw.


Dino’s Grotto serves up delicious, classic Italian fare for a reasonable price, especially at brunch. The deal is $29 for two courses and bottomless mimosas, bellinis, or Bloody Marys. The menu changes seasonally. I happened to be there for the tail end of the summer season, which is awesome because I love tomatoes. My table sampled the entire appetizer menu, which included crispy panko crusted fried tomatoes, deviled eggs, burrata with olive tapenade, and beautiful squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta. Hunks of fresh bread helped us soak up the olive oil and leftover burrata. The dishes were bursting with flavor, largely because of the freshness of the ingredients. All of the fruits and vegetables come from local farmer’s markets, and everything is made from scratch, even the Bloody Mary mix. Dean can tell you the source of every single ingredient used in his dishes, an impressive feat.


On to the entrees. Eggs benedict, nutella French toast, the creamiest and cheesiest of risottos, and, a new fall dish: savory bread pudding that was unbelievably fluffy, savory and satisfying. The food, like the drinks and the service, are ideal for brunch. Brunch was so goood I can’t wait to come back for dinner!