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“Tasting menu slipped a notch”
Review of Tosca Restaurant

Tosca Restaurant
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Ranked #90 of 3,368 Restaurants in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$31 - US$50
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special Occasion Dining, Business meetings, Romantic
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, After-hours, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Neighbourhood: Downtown / Chinatown
Cross street: between 11th and 12th
Reviewed 2 July 2014

For most of the last decade we have been indulging ourselves with Tosca’s tasting menu several times a year. Until last night it was always a great experience that often caused us to rate it five-star, but two weeks ago we had a disappointment. Several individually minor glitches reduced “great” to somewhere between “good” and “very good.”

Open Table would not take a 7:30 reservation, so we came at 7:00 and saw empty tables throughout the evening. The first course, a shellfish salad, was so overwhelmed by Old Bay that the shellfish could hardly be tasted through the saltiness. Crab shell pieces also intruded on my portion. I would have preferred any of the fish crudos I has on past occasions.

The roasted scallop in the second course was perfect, but the accompanying sauces did little to enhance it, and the peppercorn in my wife’s portion was out of place. The risotto was properly cooked so that it had a nutty crunch, but the cheese was monochromatic. I yearned for the risotto with cheese, mushroom, and a hint of truffle enjoyed on a past occasion.

The pastas, ordinarily a high point, were not. I had the pasta with antelope ragu, cheese, and roasted peppers. It was earthy but not outstanding. My wife, who dislikes peppers, instead had the carrot-flavored pasta with rabbit ragu and thyme, a Tosca signature dish previously the high point of the tasting menu. Last night’s did not have the over-the-top richness we have come to expect. We asked our waiter if the recipe had changed; he said he would ask the chef, but never returned with an answer.

The lamb chops were perfect, but the accompanying fava beans added little and my wife thought the cheese-infused polenta was a mismatch. Dessert, fruit semifreddo with Gorgonzola ice cream, was very good.

Service was correct, albeit cool. A water glass remained unfilled for a long period. We saw a lot of new faces among the wait staff, and we saw none of the three excellent veteran waiters we have come to know. During this visit and the previous one, we did not see Paolo out in front. Perhaps he is busy with his newer restaurant.

On the way home, we speculated over the cause of our disappointment. We didn’t begin the evening in a bad mood; perhaps the restaurant just had a bad night. Perhaps staff changes or a lack of owner attention have caused slippage. Perhaps there was a chef decision to make the food “lighter” and healthier. We could not decide, but we also reminded ourselves about the decision of Washingtonian’s critics to drop Tosca from their top 100.

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Thank Arlingtonfoodie31
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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216 - 220 of 540 reviews

Reviewed 25 June 2014

They are in their 20's - not a place for small children.
Very good Italian food - scallops and sea urchin. Venison. Risotto. Salmon. Salads well dressed and fresh. Imaginative menu.
Chocolate dessert worthy of the air miles needed to get the chocolate !
Don't eat all day before you go so you can thoroughly enjoy it - portions and nice size - not huge and extremely well presented.
Great ( if a touch expensive wine list - hard to get a bottle for under $50).
Excellent service. You need to book for prime times.
$500 for 3.

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Thank cultureoutdoors
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 June 2014

We chose this restaurant because they were Italian and that evening England were playing Italy in the World Cup in Brazil. They had it on the tv and most of the kitchen staff had Italy football shirts on. The atmosphere was fun before we started! My daughter wanted a vegetable sauce with pasta, which wasnt on the menu but they were more than happy to make this for her and it came up hot and delicious. All the food was really lovely and the staff were excellent! A really lovely meal and evening, even though England lost and the staff all cheered! Would definitely go back again!

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Thank Ali24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 June 2014

My wife and I ate here with four friends at a comfortable table for six (so many tables for six are improvised, jammed, and uncomfortable, but this one was created for six, and conversation was easy since the noise level in Tosca is low). We had heard great things about Tosca, and this is one of those rare places that (at least currently) lives up to the hype. Service was impeccable--crisp and professional. The wine list was outstanding, with some relatively moderately priced outstanding Italian reds; we had one of the best bottles of wine in quite some time (a wine that seemed a bargain at $60). Two of the couples shared appetizers, and the waiter saw to it that the half-portions were presented as beautifully as if they were separate orders. I had the veal bolognese pasta course--house-made pasta with a sinfully rich, meaty, and savory sauce--and followed it with the most perfectly prepared grilled swordfish steak I've ever had: a simple preparation of a wonderfully fresh and tasty piece of fish, beautifully presented. We all shared a couple of Tosca's luscious desserts. I'd put this restaurant in the very top tier of the fine international restaurants I've had the pleasure of dining in over the past several decades.

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2  Thank TravelingScholar60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 June 2014

Not heavy normal Italian, very creative. Far and above the best service you've experienced. These guys are true professionals. I go each time I'm in D.C.

Thank DFrydenlund
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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