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Tosca, with Chef Cesare Lanfranconi


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P.S.  Maybe shouldn't reply to this, as this is more of an editorial rambling, and I'll probably delete this in a day or two.

Please do not delete your posting!. It is exactly what this forum should be (at least in my mind). That is how I found this forum. I was searching for reviews on a restaurant and came upon Egullet France forum. I don't write about other restos or any for that matter as I cannot write as eloquently as some here. There are some wonderful little places I go to over and over again, (mostly because they are close though). Hama Sushi (Herndon), Rail Stop (Warrenton), Dolce Vita (fairfax), Paninos (Manassas) Evening Star (del Ray), but I have never really posted about any of them. Don Rocks I post on a few other forums more than DC but you are absolutely the best Forum Host I have run across on any of them, please keep posting your ramblings, they are wonderful! :wub:

Paris is a mood...a longing you didn't know you had, until it was answered.

-An American in Paris

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Rather then one thread that encompasses a host of restaurants not often talked about, I'd recommend starting a a thread for each restaurant. Get the ball rolling and we will eat and post. At least, that seems to be the case.

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With this thread revived, I realized I never wrote about our dinner at the chef’s table at Tosca back on Memorial Day weekend, so here it goes.

My parents were in town for the World War II Memorial Dedication, and my husband and I wanted to take them out for dinner in honor of my Dad (He was a B-17 pilot who flew 35 missions over Germany - I know, I know, off-topic – the point is we wanted a particularly special evening for our veteran. :wub: )

We decided to reserve the chef’s table at Tosca, which is in the kitchen and seats up to eight people. (You need a minimum of four people to reserve it, I believe.) We invited a couple of close family friends, for a total of six people. The table is set up so that everyone at the table has a good view of the chefs at work.

Chef Lanfranconi was not there that night, so the sous chef cooked for us. I’m embarrassed to say I forgot to write down his name. He and the rest of the staff could not have been more gracious. He described each dish as he went along and cheerfully answered all of our many questions. The wonderful maitre d' also checked on us often throughout the evening and spent a good deal of time talking with us. (The restaurant was slow that night because many locals had fled the city for the holiday weekend.)

This was back in the spring, so of course the menu is different than what they are serving this fall. But I thought I would share the menu of our dinner, just to give you an idea of the variety of courses. (I'll write the English version, though they sound even better in Italian. :smile:)

Cappuccino of wild mushrooms

Marinated salmon stuffed with goat cheese and orange carpaccio

Organic buckwheat flour crusted local soft shell crab with sautéed green peas and Vidalia onions with a pine nut sauce

Pan-seared scallops, sautéed spinach, yellow tomato sauce and crispy tomato

Roasted fois gras with rhubarb sauce, brioche and vino Santo sauce

Small ravioli of local organic tomato pulp in a fresh basil pesto sauce

Handmade squared semolina spaghetti with local farm lamb and artichoke ragu

Pepper crusted yellowfin tuna with sweet peas ravioli and vanilla saffron sauce

New York strip steak with a black pepper crust, potato puree, wild mushrooms and whole grain mustard sauce

We did not do the wine pairing, but the maitre d’ chose a couple of excellent bottles for us: Roero Arneis Funtanin, 2003 and Vino Nobeile di Montepulciano Avignonese “Grande Annata”, 2000.

I thoroughly enjoyed every single course, though my favorites were the soft shell crab, the scallops, the ravioli and the spaghetti with ragu. (I adore the pastas at Tosca)

After dinner, we were served a generous assortment of desserts, including a rhubarb tart with homemade ice cream, a warm chocolate cake, an assortment of sorbets, a ‘modernized’ tiramisu and the unbelievable tomato marmalade sweet tart. Sorry I don’t have more detailed descriptions of the desserts. They were all delicious, but my favorite was that addictive tomato tart, partly because it was different from any dessert I’ve ever had.

Everyone loved the meal and the entire experience. We were there for nearly four hours and savored every minute.

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Everyone loved the meal and the entire experience. We were there for nearly four hours and savored every minute.

What was the per person cost of this meal?

I agree with the comments about the incredible tomato marmalade tart. I tried it at the restaurant after watching the Chef demonstrate it at the Thursday Freshfarm Market in Penn Quarter this summer. In fact, he distributed the recipe, which may be available on the Freshfarm market website, and I have since made it myself when I had an overabundance of homegrown tomatoes. If you try it, beware that you will have a lot of the tomato marmalade left over. I cut the recipe in half and still had more than a pint left after making 8 servings of the tart. Not really a problem, though, as it should keep quite awhile. I am still trying to come up with ideas for how to use it.

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DonRocks,

was this lobster risotto you speak of some sort of seasonal special? I can't seem to locate it on the menu listed on their website.

And don't forget about Tosca's pretheater menu, $32 for three courses with just a few slight restrictions. A fantastic deal.

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Don.

Thanks for rhapsodizing. Just came home, had the Foie Gras with Peaches and Cherries and Balsamic Reduction? Delicious! Hub had the Octopus, I did not like it (don't care for tentacles). Followed with the Braised duck Ravioli with the Foie Gras Sauce, it was incredible! I enjoyed the Parmesean crisp cup that it came in. Hubby had the Duck Breast with Figs and Foie Gras, it was great, but he did ask for it medium rare and it came out barely pink, but it was still very good. For dessert I took yours and everyone elses recommendation on the Tomato Tart with Ricotta Basil Ice Cream and sauce, it was one of the top two or three desserts I have ever had. The other dessert ordered was the Fried figs with some sort of ice cream, it was good but did not compare to the tomato tart!

Our server was adequate but the restaurant really needs to improve his people skills, (not with us but with the table next to ours). But the someiller Kathy was a delight. I prefer red wines no matter what, (usually) she recommended a Costello di Romitorio super Tuscan that was out of this world.

All in all, our experience here was great and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone, especially the pasta!

Edited by raisab (log)

Paris is a mood...a longing you didn't know you had, until it was answered.

-An American in Paris

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  • 3 weeks later...

Had dinner at Tosca last night and can second many of the recommendations above, particularly the strategy of ordering half portions of the pastas in order to experience several. You can do this at table as well as at the bar, it turns out.

We had the scapinasch and the duck agnolotti, both excellent, a yellow pepper soup with calamari "spaghetti" from the tasting menu, a prosciutto crudo and, my favorite, roasted Branzino with a balsamic vinegar sabajon and sautéed spinach, pine nuts and raisins. This was sensational, with a crackling crust more akin to a well-roasted chicken than the limp skin you too often find on fish.

A word about the service. The first time I went to Tosca, years ago just after it opened, our well-behaved corporate party was condescended to so thoroughly that I long harbored similar feelings about the place as I have for the Staples branch in Ballston that had my car towed when I walked off their lot for a minute to post the envelope I'd just purchased inside. There was thus a momentry shiver of deja vu last night when our waiter opened proceedings with: "So, I'm assuming this is your first time here?" To his great credit, though, he caught the frown, moved right along and was extremely pleasant and helpful all night -- steering us to dishes we would not otherwise have ordered, bringing us bits and pieces to sample, taking the time to talk about the chef's background and culinary philosophy and, finally, structuring the check, entirely on his own initiative, to allow us to take advantage of their $32 pre-theater special. Well above and beyond the call of duty. All is forgiven, Tosca. I'm only sorry we sulked so long. (The Ballston tow bastards, on the other hand, are still going to accidentally brutally cut their own heads off while shaving one day, you'll see.)

"Mine goes off like a rocket." -- Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, Feb. 16.

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An old friend was in town on Monday, and wearing a suit. So after consulting eGullet and another old friend eGulleteer, we decided to try Tosca. We secured 8:00 reservations and headed over. (This is my first eGullet 'review' post -- please be kind ;) )

At first, we felt under dressed (even in the suit!) in the elegant atmosphere and white-coated waiters, until we noticed the variety -- post-work business casual, fancy jeans, and plenty of other suits. After deciding on salads to start, and pasta for the mains, we enlisted Kathy Morgan's help in selecting a beverage to accompany our meal.

When I want red wine, I tend to start in the neighborhood of Pinot Noir. Of all reds, this is the one I have heard the praises of, and have been exposed to the most. Kathy used that as a starting point, but suggested drinking Italian wine with our Italian food. She talked us through some points, but we essentially put ourselves in her hands and had her suggestion, which I think was "Sangiovese San Vincenti “Stignano." " My apologies for not writing that one down, but I think that was it.

Our salads were both a surprise in terms of presentation. His "Caprese classica di Mozzarella fatta in casa con pomodori e basilico: Classic housemade mozzarella with vine ripe tomatoes and fresh organic basil" were actually whole tomatoes, hollowed out and filled with mozzarella. Yellow tomato slices garnished the plate, too. Yum! My salad, "Insalata di radicchio e pere con terrina di Gorgonzola e noci candite: Salad of radicchio and Bartlett pears with imported Gorgonzola cheese terrine and toasted walnuts," was a sculpture of options to assemble - shredded radicchio dressed, surrounded by a ring of walnuts on the left side with half a pear sliced next to a wedge of Gorgonzola. Everything blended together well in different proportions. The wine worked well with the salads.

My pasta made me greedy (I wanted a lot more). "Agnolotti d'anatra stufata con erbette fresche e salsa del suo fegato: Pillow-shaped braised duck ravioli with foie gras sauce." His pasta was the simple "Linguine al pomodoro, olive nere e basilico fresco: Imported linguine noodles with fresh tomato sauce, black olives and fresh basil," which I thought would be boring, but it wasn't. I had only a small taste of it warm, but had both pastas the next day (the raviolli didn't hold up as leftovers, but the Linguine was amazing, subtle, and simple, even cold). I would definitely go back and order either dish again.

At this point memory starts to waiver, but we did have the cheese plate, and another glass of wine. Of all the cheeses, the Taleggio was the most satisfying that night. We drank a glass of red -- I think it was Barbaresco ...

Very glad we went. Will definitely go back.

garnish is a twist on the twist

garnish is another person's garbage

garnish is added

garnish is removed

garnish is like tying the ribbon on a present

garnish is a lovely warm "lollipop" pink

garnish is the person i would want by my side

garnish is the fun part of this soup

garnish is a speed bump on the road to bliss

garnish is described as an ornament or a decoration

garnish is an incredibly fussy little number

(garnish as googlism)

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Hi – Kathy from Tosca, here. I just wanted to thank all you “egulleters” for your praise and constructive criticism. And just to let you know... Chef Cesare will start serving his new fall menu next week. Stop by for a bite sometime and introduce yourselves!

Sommelier

Ristorante Tosca

Washington, DC

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What was the per person cost of this meal?

I agree with the comments about the incredible tomato marmalade tart.  I tried it at the restaurant after watching the Chef demonstrate it at the Thursday Freshfarm Market in Penn Quarter this summer.  In fact, he distributed the recipe, which may be available on the Freshfarm market website, and I have since made it myself when I had an overabundance of homegrown tomatoes.  If you try it, beware that you will have a lot of the tomato marmalade left over.  I cut the recipe in half and still had more than a pint left after making 8 servings of the tart.  Not really a problem, though, as it should keep quite awhile.  I am still trying to come up with ideas for how to use it.

Is this it? (I used "Cesare" as a search term, and came up with nine recipes.)

Sfogliatine di Pomodoro e Arance con Crema (Tomato and OrangeTart with Mascarpone-Basil Cream)

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Yes, that's it. I made it in high summer when tomatoes were at their best, but the long cooking time for the marmalade would probably enhance the flavor of end of season tomatoes. Depending on what you plan to do with it, I thought it might be tasty to add some spice to the marmalade, e.g cinnamon sticks, allspice, star anise.

Is this it? (I used "Cesare" as a search term, and came up with nine recipes.)

Sfogliatine di Pomodoro e Arance con Crema (Tomato and OrangeTart with Mascarpone-Basil Cream)

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