Tiramisu is a popular Italian dessert made from lady’s fingers dipped in coffee, mascarpone cheese, cocoa, eggs, and sugar. In English, tiramisu means “pick me up,” “cheer me up,” or “lift me up.” So it’s fitting that Chef Luigi Diotaiuti’s Al Tiramisu does just that, particularly on a cold winter’s night.
The restaurant boasts a long list of celebrity fans. Photos of Diotaiuti with politicians, actors, and sports stars cover an entire wall and there’s a slide show on the website. After the death of Antonin Scalia, the restaurant was mentioned in a news story as one of the justice’s favorite dining spots.
Al Tiramisu is long and narrow with a small bar near the entrance and a fireplace in the rear. While our table in an alcove near the bar didn’t provide a view of the fire, the wait staff’s friendliness and attention created a warm and welcoming ambiance. Service was efficient without making us feel rushed.
We had plenty of time to peruse the menu and discuss the specials with our waiter. We enjoyed our cocktails along with a bread basket with focaccia that was served with a small ramekin of caponata.
We began with spedinii calamari sul let di lattughine, breaded grilled calamari skewers, roasted potatoes, and mesclun salad. Rather than spread out on a plate, this appetizer was presented vertically, the skewers bearing the calamari speared into the potatoes and surrounded by the greens. The calamari was perfectly cooked, with a bite, but not rubbery and the bread crumbs added just the right amount of texture.
A pasta special was a homemade tagliolini in a butter sauce topped with shaved black truffles. The highly-prized fungi were first shown to us in a wooden box when our waiter recited additions to the evening’s menu. We opted to share a half order as a second course.
The presentation, once again, did not disappoint. Our waiter, along with a second server, proceeded to shave the a generous portion of the truffles over the pasta with great ceremony.
The dish was simple perfection. The pasta perfectly cooked, the sauce so buttery it was creamy, and the truffles adding texture and the woodsy flavor that elevated the dish to gastronomic heaven. This dish is one of our favorites, one we frequently order in restaurants both in New York and D.C. Al Tiramisu’s did not disappoint.
Al Tiramisu offers a daily selection of grilled whole fish and meat. We opted for two different fish – orate and pompano – each served with roasted potatoes and a medley of sautéed vegetables. Both whole fish were expertly filleted, not a bone to be found. Visually, the plate was appealing and the various components complimented without overwhelming the fish.
For dessert, we shared a selection of cheeses. Of course, tiramisu is on the menu, but having given up sweets for lent, trying the restaurant’s signature dish will have to wait for our next visit, which we anticipate will be very soon.
2014 P Street NW