So you may recall that B and I visited Dino in December. While he was blown away, I was less than impressed. We went back last night, and I must say, my opinion has changed. Dino is very much a neighborhood restaurant, and after last night is coming really close to making my top five list. Why has my opinion changed? Two words: Hawaiian Swordfish.
But let me back up a bit first. At B's request, we headed back last night, a Tuesday. Our last visit was on a Friday night, which meant we missed the amazing deals Dino offers during the week. These include no corkage fee from Monday-Wednesday, which allowed us to enjoy the last bottle of wine we brought back from our 2007 trip to Tuscany. I actually give us a lot of credit; we have never been able to save a wine for more than two years. We thought we should enjoy this wine with rustic and authentic Italian food.
Also during the week, they offer a $37 three course meal that covers the entire menu and includes a glass of house made grappa, lemoncello, or muscato with dessert. They also offer a cheaper early bird option if you order by 7:00, which does not include the dessert beverage and is more restrictive with the entree choices.
Back to the swordfish. I opted for the more expensive tasting menu because of this dish and I was so glad I did. It was bursting with freshness and flavor, as if it had just swum over onto the grill. The filet was tender and the richness of the swordfish was enhanced by a homemade, winter hunter-green pesto, and offset by the citrus salad. It was quite simply one of the best fish dishes I have ever tasted.
Dean Gold, the owner, is constantly walking around the place, and I got to compliment him on this menu item. He explained that he only serves this dish in the winter, as that is when this fish has the best texture owing to its seasonal diet. His knowledge and zeal for his menu definitely added to the experience.
We also enjoyed cured meats, a delicious imported Burata mozzarella complete with curds flown in bi-weekly from Italy, as well as a rich brownie cake and poached pear desserts. B adores the grappa and I really enjoy the muscato, so the meal was rounded out nicely.
All this in an environment that is relaxed and friendly. My one complaint was our sever, who was attentive yet a tad indifferent and uncurious about the menu, which contrasted greatly with Dean's approach to his restaurant.
The bill with tax and tip (remember no corkage fees), three courses each and dessert drinks was just over $100. I can now say that we will be back.