Cucina Vivace and Kramer’s

Yo, blog world!

Heather and I had a great, if rather long, girl date at Cucina Vivace this week. The atmosphere was really beautiful and conducive to a leisurely meal, the waitresses were nice and we got to meet the chef. Overall a nice experience.

I ordered:

Gamberi E Spinaci Con Noci E Pinoli
Spiced creamed spinach topped with toasted walnuts, pine nuts and grilled shrimp.

Gnocchi Vivace
Fresh potato pasta dumplings in cream sauce with seared pancetta and green onion.

Agnello Alla Griglia
Rosemary and balsamic marinated grilled lamb chops; served medium rare.

I had all this with a glass of 2002 Tenuta Mazzolino “Terrazze,” which, for those who are wine illiterate such as myself, is a lovely smooth red wine. mm. The best part of this meal by FAR was the delicious gnocchi, which wasn’t rubbery, the cream sauce was light and well…creamy. The point is that I didn’t want to keel over after eating it, which is always a plus with something potentially heavy like gnocchi.

I had Strata di Bacche for dessert, which is like an Italian bread pudding. It’s not as sweet as the American version and has tart berries baked in with a really nice tart lemon curd-y sauce over it. YUM.

I will say, however, that the food was somewhat less enchanting than the building. I enjoyed it mostly, but several things were amiss:

1) Chef Vivace believes wholeheartedly in his seasonings. While this is better than the alternative of bland tasteless food, I wanted to go into the kitchen and remind him that hitting his guests over the head with salt, huge chunks of black pepper and dried herbs wasn’t a great idea. Fresh herbs and a lighter hand on the salt would have made a HUGE difference.

2) A three course dinner with dessert shouldn’t take three hours. Yeah, I know, it’s restaurant week, but at least three couples came in after Heather and I and were out the door before we were. WTF. It wasn’t THAT busy.

3) If you ARE going to take an unbelievably long time to serve me, throw in a free dessert or glass of wine. I dropped some serious money in your restaurant and you didn’t even comp us for making us wait. Come on, dude.

Anyway.

Last night I went out to Kramer’s Books in Dupont with my two favorite interns and possible roommates for next year 😉 (See what I did there, girls? If I put it out on the internet, you’ll have to do it!) We had drinks and appetizers and then roamed Dupont for a bit. I love DC in the summer time, especially areas like Dupont. People playing chess around the fountain, trees everywhere, gay men holding hands, young professionals in their Ann Taylor loft suits…it’s a good time.

Tomorrow is Agraria night. We have had a change in cast, as my friend Aaron’s parents are dropping in unexpectedly. So my friend Cate will fill his spot. Hopefully there will be pictures to post of our night later on!

Finally, I found a pasta attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer on Craigslist for $20, and I will definitely be posting some of my adventures in pasta making soon. 🙂

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One Response to “Cucina Vivace and Kramer’s”

  1. Chef Gordon Vivace Says:

    Certain things must be taken in stride, but that wasn’t my original reaction so I’m sorry there are two deleted posts before this one.

    1. I am generally accused of understalting my food. There is, in fact, no salt on the shrimp in the dish you mentioned and none in the pancetta/cream sauce on the gnocci you mentioned. We also don’t use dried herbs. The lamb dish you had contains fresh rosemary as the only herb and is our most popular dish.

    2. Nobody was with us for three hours during restaurant week except one table of two women who took an hour to put their order in and then a half hour or more between courses. The servers do not fire the orders in my restaurant, we schedule them in the back at 15 minute intervals. There is no way for your three course main meal selections to take more than an hour unless you request a dish be held, which this table did.

    3. I believe your experience would have been more “enchanting” if you had selected wines based on the published menu recommendations or requested some guidance. Drinking a heavy red with unseasoned shrimp and a cream sauce and expecting to get the most out of the dish is not a reasonable expectation. Drinking a red that peppery with the heavily seasoned lamb will only serve to bring out the marinade flavors more; which is why we recommend Montepulciano with the lamb if you’re going to go by the glass.

    With all due respect, it doesn’t appear you gave us much chance to succeed.

    Gordon Vivace

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