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To Dine For
The Editors and John Mariami, with Lesley Balla and John DeMers | Photo: Gato photo by Daniel Krieger; 1826 Restaurant & Lounge photo courtesy of 1826 | July 3, 2014
Coast to coast, the country's best new restaurants succeed not only in the tempting seduction of masterful cuisine, but also in the artful expansion of the very definition of fine dining. Here, our thoroughly modern roundup of top new venues—in our favorite foodie cities nationwide—for the roving Modern Luxury reader:
Rose. Rabbit. Lie
Don't-Miss Dish Under Feast, plates meant to be shared, you’ll find oldschool classics revisited, like beef Wellington ($275): hunks of grilled wagyu beef and huge lobes of seared foie gras shrouded by an intricate latticed pastry dome. It’s almost as dramatic as the room.
Paired With A dish that grand needs to be tamed. When the 1998 Mayacamas Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon ($195 per bottle), a deeply concentrated and well-structured wine, comes to the table, the Wellington does what it’s told.
Tablehopping A superstar roster of fans have been seen roaming the rooms since the opening, including Mario Lopez, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyra Banks and Shania Twain.
In an effort to redefine the true Las Vegas experience, Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is equal parts restaurant, secret cocktail lounge, supper club and nightclub. The point is: You can do whatever fits your mood for the night in various rooms throughout the sprawling space, whether it’s sipping classic cocktails out of beautifully cut crystal tumblers in The Study, eating oysters and sipping Champagne while a performer named Butterscotch plays a vintage armonica (an instrument constructed of water glasses) in The Library, or catching a Janelle Monáe look-alike beat box in the show Vegas Nocturne—or maybe all three. With so much activity, the quality of food and drink, which you can get in any of the rooms, has not been lost. The menu is as much a choose-your-own-adventure as the surroundings, with small bites from mini caviar-topped tacos and crispy oysters Rockefeller to lavish platters like the beef Wellington. Just about everything impresses, and few things disappoint. The whole experience is whimsical, over-the-top and completely unique to the Strip—and really just about anywhere else. 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, 877.667.0585
Don't-Miss Dish Whatever ingredient chef Curtis Stone is focusing on each month, there’s almost always a raviolo—one beautiful dumpling stuffed with something like duck confit or sweetbreads (menus range from $80 to $115 for nine courses).
Paired With Wine Director Ben Aviram might pick something like the Keller Bürgel “S” Spätburgunder Trocken, a medium-bodied German pinot noir that goes perfectly with the sweetbread raviolo (pairing options are $65 and $110 per person).
Tablehopping Some of Stone’s biggest fans are fellow small-screen stars, like Aisha Tyler, the ladies from The Talk and Busy Phillips.
When Aussie chef Stone checks plates at the pass or grates salted egg over a small garden salad at his intimate Beverly Hills restaurant, his culinary skills are more apparent than when watching him play cooking show host on Top Chef Masters. Maude is definitely his show. Named after his grandmother, the 25-seat space is dressed up to evoke a homey ambience, with turquoise banquettes against a slate-gray background, family photos, lots of flowers and vintage China. The menus change monthly, inspired by one changing ingredient, which could be citrus, peas or morel mushrooms. When you move through the nine courses, from lobster ceviche topped with crimson turnips and micro herbs to plump ravioli filled with duck confit or chicken terrine with mustard sorbet, you realize how amazingly versatile one ingredient can be when it’s either the star of the dish or a featured player. 212 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, 310.859.3418
Don't-Miss Dish The cracked wheat porridge ($19) with turnips and hen-of-thewoods mushrooms transports fairy-tale fare to a brave new world.
Paired With Ben Hetzel, Alta’s general manager and wine manager, recommends a red Ferdinando Principiano’s Saint-Anna Dolcetto ($16 per glass, $48 per bottle), which plays nicely with the earthiness of the dish.
Tablehopping Technorati, like Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, as well as culinary luminaries, like April Bloomfield, René Redzepi and David Kinch, are fans.
James Beard Award-winning chef Daniel Patterson's new 65-seat restaurant in the techy mid-Market district has proven to be a perfect fit, both with the Twitter employees across the street and the spirit of the times. The airy dining room, embellished with Danish school chairs, pendant lights and a soaring wall of shelves lined with barrel-aged cocktails, is elegant but casual, while chef Yoni Levy's eclectic, Eastern European-accented menu is as sophisticated as it is comforting. Deviled eggs come dill-pickled and sheltered by a thatch of crunchy sunchokes, while a humble bowl of cracked wheat porridge is made transcendent by a lusty trinity of brown butter, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and a bright, spicy turnip green salsa verde. It's food that's simple, soaring and satisfying. You could call this kind of cooking NorCal modern. Or you could just call it brilliant. 1420 Market St., 415.590.2585
Don't-Miss Dish Mississippi rabbit two ways ($29) features a superbly updated take on dirty rice as well as other traditional Creole notes.
Paired With Som Chris Banks suggests a Ca' Marcanda by Angelo Gaja ($117 per bottle), a blend of merlot, syrah and sangiovese grapes that mimics the heartiness of the rabbit dish.
Tablehopping Hollywood actors in town for film projects, including Jessica Lange, Sofia Vergara and Ryan Reynolds, have favored the venue.
New owner Patrick Singley (he and his wife, Rebecca, also own Gautreau's and Ivy) is paying homage to Marti's historical heyday by maintaining the tradition of classic murals and a fine old bar with new art-deco additions. A vibrant menu of refined Creole classics and wholly modern dishes is the handiwork of young chef Drew Lockett, a native Louisianan. His risotto is pumped up with fresh Gulf shrimp, sweet summer corn, mushrooms and white truffle. He even makes the ketchup and mayo that go with the plate of pommes frites you'll love so much that you won't want to reach the bottom of the pile. 1041 Dumaine St., 504.522.5478
Don't-Miss Dish Diners love sharing the Bistecca alla Fiorentina ($90), a 42-ounce Black Angus porterhouse served on a warm lava stone.
Paired With A Produttori del Barbaresco ($23 per glass, $88 per bottle), elegant, savory and not overly fruity, stands up well to the massive steak, says sommelier Ali Lee.
Tablehopping Leonardo DiCaprio, Alicia Keys, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith are just some of the boldface names who stopped by last winter.
Given Zeno's slopeside location within a snowball's throw of Aspen Mountain's gondola, it's fitting that this new hot spot is named after Zeno Colo, the Italian ski racer who won the gold and silver in the 1950 World Championships on those same slopes. And, in light of the trattoria's authentic heritage—chef/owner Andrea Menichetti honed his skills at his family's restaurant in Tuscany—perhaps Colo fueled up for his race training back home with dishes similar to Menichetti's fettuccine tangled with chanterelles, chiodini and oyster mushrooms; or the from-scratch gnocchi with baby scallops, calamari, shrimp and zucchini-mint pesto. Menichetti focuses on the simple and flavorful notes of cuisine, sourcing top-quality ingredients (like Skuna Bay salmon that is shipped in overnight) and finishing many ingredients in-house (like the savory house-packed tuna for a spinach, arugula and cannellini bean salad). One decidedly modern touch: The airy room's ethereal white coral pendant chandeliers and massive floor-to-ceiling windows framing two sides of the dining room. Come summer, the scene spills out onto the spacious patio, where a glass of Wiemer Finger Lakes riesling and a plate of halibut ceviche make for a delicious apres-hike or -bike reward. 501 E. Dean St., 970.429.8588
The Winery Restaurant & Wine Bar
Don't-Miss Dish Try the slow-braised Angus beef short-rib ($30), with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, carrot-infused pearl couscous and a zinfandel reduction.
Paired With Som William Lewis recommends Paraduxx ($110 per bottle). A Napa Valley red blend, it’s a perfect complement to the zin reduction in the short-rib dish.
Tablehopping A who’s who of Orange County, including Angels team owner Arte Moreno, author Dean Koontz and former Ambassador to Spain George Argyros
Let’s start with the 6,000-bottle wine cellar. It’s a stunning two-story glass display of nectars—Screaming Eagle ($3,200) and DRC Romanée-Saint-Vivant ($2,200) among them. Then there’s the artistry of Executive Chef Yvon Goetz, who creates wine country-inspired cuisine the way only a talented chef from Alsace, France, can. It’s the second restaurant from managing partners JC Clow and William Lewis, and chef Goetz, who headed the kitchen at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. When they teamed up seven years ago to open The Winery in Tustin, magic happened. And this iteration is a modern, richly decorated space (a light fixture that looks like a work of art hangs above the entry, and the upstairs and downstairs bars are made of agate) sitting on a prime piece of real estate overlooking Newport Harbor, along tony Mariner’s Mile. This place has it all. 3131 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, 949.999.6622
Don't-Miss Dish The yellowfin tuna tartare ($19) may sound simple, but its truffle vinaigrette, glycerin-emulsified olive oil and silver coaster presentation make it a true standout.
Paired With Sommelier Zach Gossard suggests a 2012 Domaine Daniel Chotard Sancerre ($17 per glass, $70 per bottle) to match the rich texture of the fish.
Private Dining Chef Danny Grant’s once-a-month tasting menu dinner (limited to 40 patrons; $300 per person) is always a popular option.
Wow-factor dining is ubiquitous in South Beach, but some of the city’s most stunning restaurants can come up short when it comes to cuisine. At 1826 Restaurant & Lounge, the team is obviously interested in courting both gourmands and aesthetes. They’re dazzling the latter with a glass box of a dining room where brushed concrete, warm woods and bronze accents denote gregarious exclusivity (regulars, from Miami Heat players to reality-TV housewives, certainly think so). In the kitchen, the culinary stylings come courtesy of the talented Grant. The two-Michelin-star chef (via his turn at RIA in Chicago) has created a menu marked by superior ingredients and Instagram-worthy dishes such as poached lobster and crab with scallop dumplings, a study in seafood that’s best understood when paired with a 2012 Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils Les Champs Gain Chassagne-Montrachet ($190), thanks to citrus tones that play beautifully with the entree’s proteins. Style and substance are an elusive duo in South Beach, but at 1826, Grant and company hit all the right marks. 1826 Collins Ave., 305.763.8860
NEW YORK CITY
Don't-Miss Dish Kale and wild mushroom paella ($27) with crispy artichokes and an egg is an instant classic.
Paired With At the chef’s suggestion, pair with a glass of Whispering Angel Rosé ($50 per bottle), a French wine from Côtes de Provence.
Tablehopping Star chef Bobby Flay occasionally emerges from the kitchen to greet diners, such as Tommy Hilfiger, Kelly Ripa, Jessica Seinfeld and Eva Longoria.
To the delight of Flay’s legion of admirers, the boyishly handsome celebrity chef, who never met a grill he didn’t like, recently opened his first new NYC outpost in nearly a decade—a brick-and-tile-lined brasserie with a buzzing bar and bustling 117-seat dining room beneath vaulted ceilings. The menu, billed as Mediterranean, ventures into French, Spanish, Italian and Greek territory with equal success. In tantalizing two-bite bar snacks and more generously apportioned appetizers and entrees, Flay’s flavors are big and bold: Roasted octopus gets a porcine crunch from bacon and a citrus punch from sour orange jus; pizza is smeared with tomato jam, layered with savory lamb sausage and scattered with fresh mint leaves. Most memorable is the restaurant’s signature dish of kale and wild mushroom paella, made with Calasparra (a specialty Spanish shortgrain rice), meaty crimini and shiitake mushrooms, kale sauteed perfectly in garlic oil and a flavorful runny steamed egg on top. Garnished with crispy fried artichoke hearts and drizzled with hearty Calabrian chile oil for a kick, the dish, like the restaurant and its chef/owner himself, is just loaded with personality. 324 Lafayette St., 212.334.6400
Dusek’s Board & Beer
Don't-Miss Dish Wood-roasted king salmon ($28) with charred spring onions, nameko mushrooms, house kimchee, and hot and sour broth is a perfect East-meets-West dish.
Paired With Cicerone Will Duncan recommends Local Option Voku Hila ($6), a German-style springtime lager.
Private Dining You could access Dusek’s private dining room the obvious way—there is a staircase. But we prefer to make a more dramatic entrance, gently pushing on the floor-to-ceiling bookcase that separates it from adjacent Punch House lounge.
What’s the best way to honor a lovingly restored 120-year-old building that was modeled after the grand Opera House in Prague? If you’re the team behind Michelin-starred Longman & Eagle in Logan Square, including Executive Chef Jared Wentworth, you create an equally buzzworthy restaurant, Dusek’s Board & Beer, throw in Punch House, a hip lower-level lounge, and mix in concert venue Thalia Hall on the second floor, and you’ve got your entire evening covered. You could call Dusek’s a gastropub—obscure craft beers serve as the main inspiration for its menu—but that would be selling the Pilsen hot spot short. Besides, how many gastropubs serve an amuse-bouche? Wentworth has created a vibrant, evolving seasonal menu that ranges from Kentucky fried quail to ramp risotto to Moroccan spiced vegetable tagine. But, for us, it’s Wentworth’s delicate hand with seafood—he did grow up in New England after all—that has us totally hooked. 1227 W. 18th St., 312.526.3851
Juniper & Ivy
Don't-Miss Dish The quail egg- and cotija-topped carne cruda asada toast ($12) has quickly become the restaurant’s most popular dish.
Paired With Mixologist Jen Queen recommends the Solterra cocktail ($11): Tequila blanco cuts the quail egg’s richness
Private Dining A rarefied perch in the second-floor loft provides a stunning view of the floor-to-ceiling wine wall and bar
Celebrity chef Richard Blais’ highprofile relocation to San Diego— he now calls Del Mar home—set the food world abuzz, and not just in the seaside SoCal city. While out-of-town gastropundits tittered, Blais coolly set about crafting a lighthearted but slyly sophisticated menu that deftly changes the conversation. His sleek open kitchen provides dinner theater—an orchestration of top talents led by the spiky-haired Blais—producing techniqueand ingredient-driven cuisine that utilizes culinary gems like Carlsbad mussels, Baja abalone and Marin Sun Farm lamb from up and down the shoreline. There is whimsy to the preparations (chocolate yodels fly off the dessert menu), and several nods to local lore (the San Diego chicken dish references the beloved one-time Padres mascot), all of which have quickly endeared Blais to his new hometown. Laidback, yes. Low-brow? Hardly. 2228 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, 619.269.9036
Don't-Miss Dish The colorful Spanish octopus starter ($16) with almond gazpacho, cucumber, black olive and aged grapes is as beautifully plated as it is delicious.
Paired With Sommelier Matthew Weston recommends a drier vintage like the 2007 Schloss Reinhartshausen Erbacher Schlossberg Erstes Gewächs ($105 per bottle) if vino is the night’s MO, while Chief Mixologist Kim Haasarud of The Mix Up Bar at T. Cook’s recommends the Ciao Sole ($12) with aperol, contratto bianco vermouth and club soda to enhance the savory flavors of the octopus and its embellishments.
Private Dining The newly launched, ultraexclusive, multicourse #PM31 experiences ($150 per seat) are limited to just six or fewer guests and are magically improvisational.
Celebrating a complete redesign and renovation of the space, lauded Executive Chef Paul McCabe has departed from the old menu’s Spanish-influenced dishes and has charted a clear course toward cuisine that embraces the whole coast of Mediterranean flavors—with a nod here or there to the Southwest, of course. While the menu changes with the seasons, the kitchen’s repertoire perpetually includes fare that is modern yet classic, thoughtful yet bold, with high regard for fresh and local ingredients. To perfectly complement each intriguing bite are the villa-like surroundings of the storied Royal Palms Resort, with its Spanish Colonial architecture, Tuscan-style landscaping, and intimate patios and dining room. And whether a guest opts for surf (such as the whole roasted loup de mer with padron peppers and burnt lemon) or turf (antelope loin and shoulder with smoked potato), there’s no doubt The Mix Up Bar, conceptualized by Chief Mixologist Haasarud’s spirits-savvy staff, can stir up the right cocktail to ensure your Mediterranean undertaking is smooth sailing from start to finish. 5200 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, 602.840.3610
Don't-Miss Dish The black cod misoyaki ($20) with doting fans such as Jennifer Lawrence, Andre 3000 from Outkast and Sir Anthony Hopkins' wife, Stella Arroyave
Paired With Mixologist Gabe Bowen recommends cold Tenzan sake ($110 for a large bottle), which easily pairs with any dish on the menu—especially the otoro caviar ($21 for two pieces).
Tablehopping The who's who of Atlanta: Braves and Falcons players, and A-listers such as Elton John, Jim Carrey, Liam Hemsworth and Colin Farrell all flock to this hot spot.
Indulge in a superior level of Japanese culinary preparation and presentation at Chef Fuyuhiko Ito's Buckhead outpost—the most happening resto in the ATL, co-owned by longtime Atlantans Farshid Arshid and Charlie Hendon. Their vision was to create a subtly elegant interior (a neutral color palette, floor-to-ceiling burnt-wood panels, oversize vintage photos of Japanese natives) to allow the cuisine to shine, center stage. Although Ito was trained as a French chef, his black cod misoyaki was inspired by Nobu Matsuhisa's famous dish. Notwithstanding his classical leanings, Ito isn't afraid to add modernity into his delectable creations. The spicy tuna crispy rice and yellowtail jalapeno top the list for best starters, followed by the nigiri lineup, which includes superfresh options such as the madai (Japanese red snapper), hotate (live scallop), amaebi (sweet raw shrimp) and others flown in from Tokyo fish markets five days a week. To complement both typical and innovative rolls (the tuna box roll is particularly superb), expect a bevy of inventive dishes such as the Chilean sea bass yu-an yaki, wrapped in a paper wrapper that's set ablaze for a true smoky flavor and presentation that's full of pageantry. Take care to save room for a green-tea souffle dessert prepared by Ito's wife, Pastry Chef Lisa Ito—only 12 are served up per night. Like the rest of the evening's experience, it inspires wonder at every bite. 3050 Peachtree Road NW, 404.841.0040
Don't-Miss Dish Plump agnolotti ($24) with beef short rib, pickled shallots, salsa verde and pecorino sprinkled on top is an outstanding choice.
Paired With Wine Director Vonda Freeman recommends a Terredora Taurasi 2008 ($65 per bottle), a big bold red made from the aglianico grapes, which can enhance the rich flavors of the beef and the sharp pecorino cheese.
Tablehopping Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino and part-time Charleston habitué Bill Murray have stopped by.
Charleston, S.C., restaurant leaders The Indigo Road have debuted Indaco, a trattoria that fills a niche in the city for fine, modern Italian food. Indaco occupies a long room with white brick walls, track lighting, votive candles, black-and-white photos of food and butcher-block tables that have rarely had an empty seat since the restaurant opened. Oregon-born chef Michael Perez honed his skills in Italian cooking at Scarpetta in Beverly Hills and Las Vegas, and his plates are generous with seasonal ingredients, beginning with pizzas with unusual toppings like octopus with tomato, fontina and broccoli di rape, spiked with Calabrian chilies. Following the fashion for crudi—Italian sushi—Perez plates pristine raw snapper with black olives, celery, pickled mustard seeds and a bite of jalapeno, and pappardelle pasta is treated to a rich pork sugo, herb-whipped ricotta, orange and pecorino (all of which you can share, but you may not want to). 526 King St., 843.727.1228
Don't-Miss Dish The artfully plated ahi poke ($18) with ikura and uni brings a luxe Japanese sophistication to this typical starter.
Paired With Sommelier Ian Hatada suggests the 2007 Roland Champion Special Club Grand Cru Champagne ($20 per glass, $120 per bottle).
Private Dining For those wanting an exclusive experience, the eatery is adding two private dining rooms this fall.
Leave it to two talented alums of celebrated chef Alan Wong to usher in Hawaii regional cuisine’s next chapter. At MW Restaurant, husband-and-wife team Executive Chef Wade Ueoka and Pastry Chef Michelle Karr-Ueoka have created one of Honolulu’s hottest culinary addresses. Here, poke, the ubiquitous Hawaiian staple of cubed raw fish, has never looked so elegant. Ueoka takes a layer of finely chopped ahi and lavishly tops it with ikura and uni, along with a dusting of crispy rice crackers. When it comes time for dessert, Karr-Ueoka’s Kula strawberry shave ice transforms Hawaii’s famous answer to the snow cone into a vivid, deconstructed tableau. Not only are these creations pure bliss, they’re also the perfect example of how MW Restaurant is reinventing Hawaiian cuisine. 1538 Kapi‘olani Blvd., 808.955.6505
Rolf and Daughters
Don't-Miss Dish Farro grain ($17) with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, black cabbage and Parmigiano has become an extremely popular dish here.
Paired With Beverage Director Mollie Ward suggests complementing the dish with a La Charmoise Gamay Touraine 2012 ($46 per bottle).
Tablehopping The staff is tight-lipped about VIP diners, but don’t be surprised if you’re seated near a country-music luminary or two.
Chef/owner Philip Rolf Krajeck calls the food at Rolf and Daughters “modern peasant food.” Peasants might only dream of eating this well: baby octopus with pork belly, and perfectly textured meatballs with a mix of crushed garlic, lemon peel, dandelions and parsley.For starters, order the thinly sliced country ham on sourdough toast or the slab of rich country pâté with porter-laced mustard.Beets come with a maple yogurt and puffed quinoa, while brook trout, succulent to the bone, comes with potato, leeks and spinach in a benediction of trout broth. The big open red-brick space used to be a factory boiler room, and there are communal tables where you’ll make friends fast and learn just how mannerly Southerners can be to visitors, for this is very much a neighborhood place, and walk-ins are very much encouraged. You can sit at the bar and nurse a signature cocktail like the Belle of St. Mark, made with Cynar, mescal, lemon and a froth of egg white. You may as well linger there until some seats loosen up. There’s no rush. This is Tennessee. 700 Taylor St., 615.866.9897
Don't-Miss Dish Braised veal cheeks ($34) with tender Tokyo turnips, baby carrots and cipollini onions served in cast iron is like an upscale comfort food version of your mother’s succulent pot roast.
Paired With Co-owner Allison Yoder’s first grab to complement the richness of the veal is the Leviathan California Red Cabernet Blend ($21 per glass, $60 per bottle).
Private Dining Call ahead and reserve table 20. At this eight-top located at the front of the restaurant, chef Stephen Rogers can create a personalized tasting menu.
Dallas has its fair share of high-profile celebrity chefs, and we wouldn’t want to be without them, but sometimes simplicity is what gets the attention among all the blinking lights. This is Gemma, the New American seasonal restaurant from chef Stephen Rogers and his wife, Allison Yoder. On the ever-burgeoning East Dallas strip of Henderson Avenue, the white-shingled restaurant with its bluish-gray bead board—the color of a rain-soaked beach sky—feels more coastal than landlocked Dallas. The food echoes that fresh ambience. With the time Rogers and Yoder spent at Napa Valley’s Press, as chef and manager, respectively, their appreciation for local, farm-fresh food underscores every dish. Take the ricotta cavatelli. The bite-size pasta is made in-house daily and tossed with Texas wild boar ragu, sage and fennel pollen. The baked oysters are served with leeks, guanciale, melted Gruyere and a kick of jalapeno. And a small bowl of fried, salty Castelvetrano olives are tossed with the sweet meat of Texas pecans. They are all a beautiful mishmash of Rogers’ backstory: growing up in Dallas with a professional life on the West Coast. We’re glad he’s found his way home. 2323 N. Henderson Ave., 214.370.9426
Don't-Miss Dish The bucatini ($32) with red king prawns and Catalina sea urchins has quickly become the dish Washingtonians rave about—and order again.
Paired With Wine Director Jennifer Knowles recommends a delicate but earthy Italian from Tuscany: the 2004 Le Coste di Cicolina, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano ($64 per bottle).
Tablehopping Politicos have been here in droves, but the stars have also come to play, including the cast of Scandal.
Fabio Trabocchi is a man driven to excess—in the most glorious ways.After opening Casa Luca less than a year ago, the James Beard Award winner could have played it safe on the Georgetown waterfront. But when Fiola Mare launched earlier this year, it was obvious Trabocchi held nothing back, aesthetically or financially. Inside, think stunning flourishes reminiscent of a Venetian palazzo, with coffered ceilings and ornate molding. Outside, the veranda’s yacht-club feel catapults the resto to the finest alfresco dining space in town. Trabocchi’s homage to the sea isn’t merely a convenient theme; it’s a mission that pervades every step he takes from the elegant open kitchen. While the chef’s Under the Sea dish—Spanish branzino, scallops, langoustines, foie gras, quinoa and Parmesan dash—proves he’s serious about this mission, his bucatini with red king prawns and Catalina sea urchins announces he’s in a class reserved for culinary kings. Nuanced desserts fit the Fiola Mare credo of sophistication through subtlety, and if you miss the baba au rhum—a boozy savarin—it’s a sin you’ll have to atone for during a return visit. 3050 K St. NW, 202.628.0065