McLean / Italian / $$$$
The plate is lush with prosciutto. It’s woven in wide ribbons along the curve of the plate. At first glance, it’s more damn ham than any reasonable person would want when there are still two more courses coming. But you are neither reasonable nor alone. You and your date eagerly scoop up slices of the prosciutto with cubes of jiggly Parmesan panna cotta and sweet brûléed figs, and crunch into salty Parmesan crisps.
This unusual meat-and-cheese plate comes from the mind of new chef Francesco Pescatore, a young gun who arrived in NoVA after tenures in London and the Middle East. He has a way with unexpected flavor combinations. Octopus is paired with chamomile, pears, and artichoke. Delicate tortelli are filled with buffalo ricotta and spinach in a sauce flavored with pink peppercorn, vanilla, and black truffle.
Even desserts are stylish. Tiramisu is crafted to order and served in a metal cocktail glass. Chocolate mousse appears in a dome shape, filled with buttery caramel sauce. This chef is one to watch.
See this: If there is a more obvious central casting entry for the role of “upscale restaurant” in a movie, I’ve never seen it. The bar has a bit more character, including a pack of regulars.
Eat this: San Daniele prosciutto, gnocchi with braised short ribs, tiramisu
Service: A bit hands-off. Chances are, you’ll be waiting a while for your check after you’ve finished eating.
When to dine here: You have a date open to smaller portions and higher prices if it means unique flavors.