Tucked away in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood, Alba Osteria (website | facebook | twitter) can be found on the corner of 4th and Eye St. NW. They open December 30th, and have a New Year’s Eve promotion planned (flyer below), but we benefited from a sneak preview during the recent soft opening.
The entryway is enclosed in glass, keeping diners away from cold drafts and street noise. The dining room and bar are sectioned into different areas giving it a cozy feel, when in fact there is room for 226 people. The restaurant is decorated using reclaimed glass from a crayon factory, bright orange accents with an industrial feel. A wood burning pizza oven sits in the corner with dazzling orange and red tile surrounded by artfully stacked fire wood.
We were seated at a table for two along the banquet seating that separated our section of the restaurant from the bar and were quickly asked if we would like sparkling or tap water. Next came the bread basket with three types of bread; a traditional bread stick, crispy rosemary and sea salt flat bread and a more traditional wheat as well as olive oil for dipping.
Our server was absolutely delightful and knowledgeable which made the whole experience enjoyable.
The wine we ordered wasn’t in stock, so the general manager suggested a 2011 Giorgio Cichero Dolcetto di Ovada, which was a versatile wine that worked well with everything we tasted.
Pepperonata (Sweet & Sour Peppers, Tomato, Potato) Sweet and spicy with a perfect texture, I could have eaten a giant plate of this delicious appetizer – but there was so much more to try!
Fegatini e Porchini (Sautéed Chicken Livers, Marsala wine, Porcini Mushrooms, Polenta) I wish there had been more polenta with this dish to offset the stronger flavors of the liver.
Gnocchi Verdi (Spinach, Potato Dumpling, Sausage Ragu) The Gnocchi are like fluffy clouds, they just melt in your mouth.
Salsiccia e Rapini (Tomato, Smoked Mozzarella, Pork Sausage, Broccoli Rabe,Garlic) The toppings were a great mix of flavors and textures but the crust was a little soft and doughy for my liking. I’d like to give it another try after they perfect their operation.
Rolatine di Vitello (Veal, Prosciutto, Chiodini, Potato Cream) The veal was nice and tender, the potato cream was al dente lending a nice consistency to the whole dish.
Polenta Bianca (Snow White Polenta, Crunchy Caramel, Chocolate Gelato) Creamy smoothness with a crispy crème brulee crust and light as air gelato.
Coppa di Torino (Noccello Soaked Cookie, Hazelnut Gelato, Marron Glace, Meringue, Cherry) – So decadent with hazelnut gelato, cherries, melt in your mouth sugar straws and a candied walnut on top
There was a nice hustle and bustle to the restaurant, with the feeling you’re at a large family event, but not too loud so you can’t hear your dining companions. There were a few kinks at the soft opening, but I am confident with such an attentive staff that their opening will go off without a hitch. I highly recommend trying Alba Osteria. I know I’ll be back, even if I gained 5 pounds last night trying to sample as many different dishes as I could.