By Priya Konings
Being the food snob that I am I thought I had tried all the best tasting menus in D.C. It took Roberto Donna to set me straight.
Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Roberto Donna hosts a chef’s table dining experience called Roberto’s 8 for eight lucky guests; essentially a restaurant within his Al Dente restaurant. Guests are seated at the bar alongside the kitchen so they can watch the team create their magic, plate by plate. The menu is $85 and includes a never-ending parade of the most delightful, delectable small plates you can imagine. The food is fancy but not fussy, comforting and yet also seasonal and fashionable. Each small dish is as eye-catching as the last one, and as robust tasting as the next one. The best part of the experience may be the smiling Donna, who serves each course with flair and enthusiasm, who checks in with his guests frequently to make sure they are enjoying themselves, and who himself takes a break to enjoy a glass of 1985 Barolo, purchased for him by an affectionate guest, who will only have the wine if Donna agreed to have a glass. (Will I ever be that cool?)
Donna’s most recent menu at Roberto’s 8 included nearly 20 mouth-watering dishes, starting off with a doughy mini pizzetta, served in its own mini pizza box, cauliflower custard studded with mini cauliflower florettes, white asparagus smothered in fontina cheese, squash blossoms that could barely contain their luscious ricotta and mint filling, and velvety parsnip puree piled high with smoky greens and melted mozzarella.
The next round of courses was heartier, and included melt-in-your-mouth white truffle risotto, burrata and eggplant ravioli gently embellished with mashed butternut squash and caramelized Brussels sprouts, gnocchi, egg shells stuffed with black truffle laced scrambled eggs, glistening roasted potatoes blanketed by ribiola cheese and piled high with fried potato shards, and a passion fruit sorbet which served as the savory to sweet transition.
The dessert portion of the meal was as jovial as the rest of the meal. Panna cotta was pure vanilla and silky smooth, a raspberry tart functioned as the vehicle for a chocolate macaroon oozing with chocolatey goodness, and a sweet ravioli was filled with apples, covered in a smattering of powdered sugar, and drizzled with a sweet sauce. Finally, tiny cups brimming with a rum and melted chocolate concoction served as the ultimate course. It doesn’t get much better than this list of Donna’s greatest hits.
Remember to get the wine pairings, which unlike many places, are a real wine pairing with full pours and refills if needed. Enjoy the pictures, which we should just call Roberto Donna porn.