SBCP and I recently had the opportunity to drive to Alexandria on a Sunday. Aside from I95 it was a pleasant trip and did not take 6 hours. (Which is possible in Northern Virginia on a weekend.) We were checking the travel time and route for a state test for which she was registered. We wanted to be sure the path was familiar. I had in the back of my mind to have dinner at Osteria Da Nino Cucina Italiana & Bar. Nino’s was located in Shirlington and the work home of some good friends and wonderful people. Niño Pino was the former host and part owner of Zibibbo73 in Stafford. A location I was fortunate to have worked at for a couple of years when they first opened. In the restaurant business you say “ I helped open so and so with whosit back in the day” Which means you worked at a place when they first opened. The first few months in the restaurant business are the roughest. So that statement is like a rite of passage. Working out the kinks in a restaurant is like being reborn daily. You never know what will happen on any given day.
When Nino left Zibibbo73 he took some good friends and servers from Stafford and opened Osteria Nino. The space is modern and beautiful and the tables are spaced so generously that you experience an unmistakable intimacy in a huge space.
Nino is the consummate host. He has a way with the clientele that makes you feel welcome and at home. He greeted us with warm hugs and gratitude. He was truly happy to see us! We spent many minutes talking and checking out the layout of the property. Our good friend and favorite server Christin had not arrived for work yet and Nino sat us at the best table in the house. A four-top at the window corner. Our server was smiley and well-spoken and described the specials to a tee. While we ate a regular customer called and asked for his special table (our table) and Nino apologetically explained that there were guests already seated at that table.
We opted for the mussels’ appetizer in white wine. Nino approached and recommended some salumi e fromaggi. A small plate of cured sausage and cheeses. That anti pasta was delivered immediately. A wonderful mix of soppressatta, pistachio cheese, olives and fig jam. The mussels were fresh and sweet and tender. Huge thin slices of garlic were reminiscent of the final minutes of the prison scene from the movie Goodfellas. Where Pauli would slice the garlic thin with a razor so it melted in the pan with just a little oil. I offer a link to that memorable scene. -
Garlic with a razor
SBCP ordered the Salmone e Puntarelli - Wild harvested salmon, gigandes beans, salmoriglio, kale, & tomato comfit.
My wife stated that the salmon was perfect. The skin removed and cooked perfectly. The beans were I thought butter beans, plump and delicious. And of course the kale was kale so she was happy.
I enjoyed the Filletto di Branzino - Fregola, orange, fennel, asparagus, castelvetrano olives, & Sicilian salmoriglio, The filet was a whole fish, which was awesome. The Fregola was a pearl pasta reminiscent of Israeli Cous Cous. Plump and buttery and with a wonderful mouth feel.
The entrees -
The entrées were spectacular. The service was attentive but not overwhelming. Christen arrived and more hugs and warm feelings were abundant. Nino and his staff were phenomenal.
We arrived early and were thankful for that. As we finished the restaurant began to fill up with their regular Sunday business.
We felt blessed to have an awesome meal hosted by familiar friends and to have the ability to make new friends.
Osteria Da Nino Cucina Italiana & Bar a true gem tucked away in Shirlington VA. Great hosting, warm hospitality and wonderful food.
A link to their website - Osteriadaninova.