Posto, 14UP

DonRocks, on 22 Jan 2015 – 5:18 PM, said:

Chef-Owner Massimo Fabbri, who has been at Tosca since it opened, is now cooking full-time at Posto, and for the first time in its history – since it opened over six years ago – Posto is now rated in Italics in the Dining Guide. Taking over as Chef de Cuisine at Tosca will be Matteo Venini, who began as a pastry chef, and clawed his way to the top.

Like Venini, Fabbri started out as a line cook working with Cesare Lanfranconi, worked his way up to Sous Chef, and then to Chef de Cuisine at Tosca where he was making arguably the greatest Italian Food, and certainly the greatest pastas, in the area. Note that this is before the return of Roberto Donna, and the Italian Renaissance in general.

However, his presence as the full-time Chef de Cuisine at Posto is a game-changer, and not only have they been raised to Italic, but they’ve moved up numerous slots in the 14UP neighborhood. It can not be overstated how important of a change this is.

eatruneat, on 23 Oct 2015 – 5:41 PM, said:

Has anyone eaten at Posto recently? Trying to decide between Posto and Red Hen for a pre-marathon dinner. While Red Hen would probably be the better overall experience, I won’t be indulging much with 26.2 miles of running waiting for me in the morning.

Almost a year ago, I quietly moved Posto up in the rankings in the 14UP neighborhood in the DC Dining Guide. Between that, and some less-than-splendid meals at a couple other previously highly ranked 14UP restaurants, Posto had crept up to #2, behind Etto, while others – who are still living off their old reputations – slipped down.

Last night, I went to a very empty Posto on the day before Thanksgiving, taking a seat at the bar in an empty restaurant around 6 PM – I went so far as to ask the host if they were open, and to ask my wonderful bartender (more on that in a bit) if there were some “easy” dishes I should be ordering, given that it’s a holiday, and that surely people were going to be on vacation. He confidently replied that, no, the kitchen is fully staffed, and the entire menu can be ordered with confidence.

It’s Happy Hour at Posto from 5:30-7PM during the week, and while some items are only a dollar off, others are substantially discounted. I unwound with a Negroni ($7 at Happy Hour) with equal parts Tanqueray Gin, Dolin Rouge Vermouth, and Campari – it was a beautifully made Negroni, served up and with an orange-peel, and put the happy in happy hour, as it packed something of a punch. Incidentally, my bartender showed his merits later on, when a gentleman to my left ordered a Vesper, and asked the bartender if he knew it (he said no, in his thick Italian accent). Apparently, this gentleman to my left was something of a Vesper connoisseur, as he rattled off the ingredients – one time only, in their proportions, complete with mixing directions (shaken, served in a martini glass) – about two minutes later, out comes his Vesper which he said was amazing, especially given that this was the bartender’s first-ever exposure to the drink. This bartender was good.

From the Happy Hour menu, I ordered the Salmone Bruschette ($5, normally $9) with house-smoked salmon, mascarpone, dill, and a little salt and olive oil, and from the regular menu, the Fettucini Carbonara ($20). I don’t have the menu with me, so I can’t list all the ingredients, but it was a classic carbonara presentation – this is a dish I used to dismiss until I was enlightened to just how difficult it is to execute, and since then, I order it whenever I can.

Both items were extraordinary, with the Bruschette – at $5 – being absolute charity, as there were two gigantic portions, and my only complaint with the carbonara being that there may have been a little *too* much Pancetta (of course, I always had the option to let it sit there, in the bottom of the bowl, and I chose not to exercise it).

In the middle of my Bruschette, Chef Fabbri came out, looking dapper in dress-casual clothing, and ordered a well-earned drink. He and the bartender were speaking a mile a minute in Italian. At some point, when the bartender walked away, I mentioned that there was *no way* I could understand them, despite being fluent in French and trying to learn Spanish. That was my way of saying hello to Massimo without trying to appear like I was currying favor. We talked for awhile, and then he headed back into the kitchen to prepare for some incoming diners – we shook hands, and introduced ourselves. We’ve talked and written in the past, but we’d never actually met; we didn’t say our last names, but I knew very well who he was. I should also add that he did cook or assemble either of my dishes, so at least one other person working the kitchen was doing a bang-up job last night.

Anyway, in the middle of my Bruschette, I switched to a glass of Soave ($12), a very generous pour, well-worth the price, served in excellent stemware at the proper temperature. I was in the middle of an outstanding dinner.

And then afterwards, I was pretty darned full, but asked to look at the dessert menu, and turned my attention back to the second half of my Negroni. Normally, I’d order some sorbet, or something light at this point in the meal (I’m also somewhat notorious for ordering dessert to *start* a meal – why should it be last just because it’s sweet?)

It was the night before Thanksgiving, and all through my house, not a creature would be stirring, not even my little louse (whom I took back to his mom’s earlier in the day). So I said “to heck with it,” and drank dessert with a glass of Zenata Amarone Grappa ($13), one of Posto’s top-of-the-line offerings – getting through a glass of grappa, for me, is like getting through a glass of drain cleaner. I *like* it, but there’s no denying that both grappa and eau-de-vie smell and taste like hospital disinfectant – I guess you could call it an “acquired taste.”

So I sat there over the next fifteen minutes or so, and enjoyed my digestif, being regaled by watching and chatting with the bartender, who, inexplicably, is the gentleman in this video. I can’t explain it any more than you can, but if you go to Posto – and you *should* go to Posto – and he’s working the bar, then you’re in good hands.

After last night, Posto has assumed the #1 position in 14UP in the DC Dining Guide. I haven’t had a meal like this on 14th Street all year. Nowhere else will you hear Posto being in the discussion as “best restaurant on 14th Street” (think about it for a moment), but I’m telling you that it is absolutely in the running. Fabbri’s permanent placement there has raised it up to the top, and these folks should be very proud of what they’ve done – it was never like this when it first opened.

I should mention, in fairness, that I saw a pizza being brought out, and from what I gleaned, Etto can rest comfortably on that front.

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