Adams Morgan is legendary for its nightlife, but its reputation as a culinary destination has long been spotty at best.
But that’s starting to change. The addition of Mintwood, Al Volo, and Smoke & Barrel in recent years has given those of us in search of more than a jumbo slice of pizza appealing options. And with the recent opening of Rosario – another serious dining destination – Adams Morgan has upped its dining game yet another notch.
Under the direction of Chef Logan McGear, the hip but cozy Italian eatery is turning out some excellent Italian staples, as well an intriguing array of specialty cocktails at a price point that won’t break the bank. The 60-seat restaurant – in the former space occupied by the absinthe bar Libertine – is perfect for a fun dinner date or a group meal with friends as a prelude to a night on the town.
During a recent weeknight dinner, we started with a savory olive tapenade containing seven different types of olives mixed with garlic and parmesan. A hearty plate of arancini (stuffed rice balls) anchored by delicious dollops of garlic pesto arrived next. The piping hot orbs stuffed with a meaty Bolognese sauce didn’t last long. A Caesar salad lightly dressed and draped with white anchovies was another winner, especially as it arrived in beautiful, house-made parmesan cracker basket.
A main course of osso bucco – braised with a Roseda beef shank instead of the customary lamb – was not only beautiful to behold but absolutely delectable on the palate. The tender beef, accompanied with a ricotta salata and saffron risotto, fell apart with the touch of a fork and revealed some serious skill in McGear’s kitchen. A plate of vegan chicken parmesan might not have had the osso bucco’s depth of flavor, but its texture and aromatic and tangy tomato sauce was convincing – and carried far less fat and calories.
While Rosario’s dinner menu is the star attraction, its bar is also on point with a carefully selected wine list an impressive array of unique craft cocktails. Although it’s been open barely a month, Rosario is quickly serving notice that when it comes to high-quality dining at fair prices in Adams Morgan, there’s an important new kid on the block.
Rosario: 2435 18th St. NW, DC; 202-791-0298; www.rosariodc.com