Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Elisir - A New Shining Star in DC's Italian Restaurant Scene

CiaoDC recently had the privilege of dining at Enzo Fargione's Elisir.  It is quite possibly this author's new favorite in the DC region and this review will attempt to explain why.

Cocktails and Fun Starters
Cocktails:  We started out with the Tentare Feito (which the menu describes as Bourbon, Orange, Lemon, Basil, Campari Marshmellow), along with a specialty cocktail for the evening that the waiter talked me into.  Mixologist Steve Oshana named it the "Funky Cold Medina," after the Tone Loc hit.  It involved Plymouth Gin, Poma, Prosecco and lemon juice.  It was delicious, and I'm not usually a fan of gin.  The drinks only got better from there as Elisir's Sommelier Justin Kraemer's selections for each course put our meal over the top.

Fun Starters:  we got a few little treats that were so unexpected I forgot to take pictures!  The first was a Squash Soup that had an amaretti cookie in it and a foamed finish.  It was multi-faceted and delicious.  I wish I had written down the description!  We also had an olive paste filled Chocolate Lollipop dipped in salt and gold flakes.

At our waiter's suggestion, we also ordered the Olive Oil and Infused Sea Salt Tasting which involved specialty olive oils from Liguria, Tuscany and Sicily paired with house infused black olive, chianti and basil infused sea salts (respectively).  A great twist on the traditional olive oil and bread that we're all used to at Italian restaurants.

Elisir features two Tasting Menus but also allows diners to order A la Carte.  We chose the A la Carte option.

Antipasto: Carpaccio di Branzino Affumicato nella Scatola del Sigaro al Tavolo  Four minute apple wood smoked branzino carpaccio served in a cigar box with citrus dressing, scallions, shaved mushrooms, pea tendrils, roasted garlic chips and blood oranges.
Wine pairing: Graham Beck Brut Rose' South Africa
This dish not only had a great presentation, but the flavors were incredible.  The saltiness of the branzino and garlic chips was balanced perfectly by the sweetness of the blood oranges and citrus dressing.  We couldn't have asked for a better wine pairing, and this comes from someone who doesn't usually drink Rose' or much of anything sparkling!

PrimoFazzoletti di Nero e Zafferano ala Ragu di Aragosta - 
Square black squid ink and saffron pasta sheets with a ragu of Maine lobster and cherry tomato confit, micro 
oregano, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

Wine Pairing:  
Valpolicella Bussola Classico Superiore 2007 
What a masterpiece, or capolavoro, I should say!  Two of my favorite foods together - lobster and pasta, I have been disappointed too many times with what I've always thought couldn't be wrong together.  This dish was just the opposite.  Again, a great wine choice - I hate to break it to all you I-have-to-drink-white-with-fish/seafood.  That simply is not the case, and you're missing out if you continue to follow such a silly rule.

Secondi: Petto d'Anatra al Sale con Salsa di Olive Nere e Carciofi Arrosto seared salt cured breast of Hudson Valley moularde duck, Ligurian black olive sauce, roasted artichoke quarters, spinach whipped potatoes and caramelized quince ragu with roasted cocoa nibs.
Wine Pairing:  Super Tuscan Aia Vecchia Lagone IGT 2008
I love duck and order it fairly often including times when I've been in Italia.  This duck breast was prepared to perfection and went extremely well with the black olive sauce.  The spinach potatoes and artichokes were unique while staying true to authentic Italian ingredients.  The Aia Vecchia is a wine I will definitely look to purchase.  Super Tuscans are quickly becoming my new favorite red wine variety.  

Filetto di Vitello e Animelle Arrosto - Roasted veal filet and pan seared veal sweetbreads in a creamy orange/mascarpone cheese sauce with cipollini onions and sautéed mushrooms.
Wine Pairing: Barolo - Damilano Lecinquevigne Piedmont 2005
CiaoDC's dining partner ordered this combination of veal and Barolo and could not have been more pleased.  Veal is one of his favorites, and he hasn't really stopped talking about the Barolo since.

Although we couldn't find room for dolci, Chef Enzo treated us to a few little chocolates and even came out to greet us at the end of the meal!  It was a gran piacere to meet him, especially because he was as gracious as he is talented.  
CiaoDC strongly recommends that you dine at Elisir soon!


  1. Elisir provided a great dining experience for our anniversary dinner. Each of the courses on the tasting menu was excellent and paired well with the selected wine. The food came out at a good pace!

  2. I love the octupus here, it was sooo tender and nicely charred on the outside with a coriander-crust, served with hearts of Romaine lettuce, shaved Parmigiano cheese, ample anchovies, and a delightful balsamic vinaigrette. The composition was very nice, if a bit salty overall with an overabundant of anchovies. The Veal stew was tenderly braised with carrots and peas, artfully presented in a ring of soft polenta--satisfying on a cold winter day.

  3. And ohh, I have to add this, For dessert, we had the Berries with Pistachio Zabaglione as well as the Zuccotino with Gianduja Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla Gelato. The zabaglione was nicely fragrant of pistachio with white chocolate shavings. Although the raspberries were good, the blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries were not very flavorful. The cake was a bit on the dry side, which served as a base to sop up the chocolate-hazelnut sauce and gelato (atop bits of hazelnuts).

  4. The individuals working in this restaurant were great, our
    food server was so professional, nice, and best service I
    have had at any restaurant. The food was amazing, and I
    cannot wait to go back. Feels good to eat local foods. A good
    place to go for lunch meetings!

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