100 Best Restaurants 2010: Teatro Goldoni

No. 34: Teatro Goldoni

Cuisine: Chef Enzo Fargione, who was head chef at Roberto Donna’s late Galileo, revived this K Street destination almost two years ago, dazzling the business crowd and attracting foodies with creative spins on regional Italian cooking. Among his tricks: a slice of branzino in a cigar box that releases a puff of “smoke” when the lid is lifted. But gimmickry isn’t the norm—most dishes are thoughtful refinements of fare you’d find in a traditional Northern Italian home, such as rustic gnocchi with lamb ragu.

Mood: Management has dropped the Euro dance tracks in favor of classier tunes, and the service has warmed up. Still, it’s a fairly hushed dining experience, despite the circus-themed decor.

Best for: Large parties, either in the back room or at the chef’s table in the kitchen; a bite at the bar.

Best dishes: Smoked branzino; butter-roasted baby octopus; mozzarella and candied tomatoes with balsamic gelatin cubes; lobster cavatelli with mushroom-studded cream sauce; gnocchi with lamb ragu and pecorino fondue; risotto with lobster; rib eye with sweetbreads and cannellini beans; basil and sweet-corn sorbets; vanilla gelato.

Insider tips: Fargione’s “chef table” is an over-the-top indulgence: a sumptuous procession of more than a dozen intricate and imaginative courses served at a private table in the kitchen—one of the best (and costliest: $125, not including tip and tax) blowout meals in the area.

Service: ••

Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Very expensive.

See all of 2010's 100 Best Restaurants

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.