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Posted at 11:19 AM ET, 05/17/2007

News to Digest

By Erin

Wednesdays are becoming a popular night for specialty dinners around town. Wine pairings and all-you-can-eat pasta are just two of the tempting options for mid-week dining. For those in search of new restaurant destinations, I round up the restaurants that plan to open in the coming months. Look for Mediterranean flavors, a bit of California cuisine and plenty of good wine. Read more about the restaurants and where you can find one of the coolest ingredients around after the jump.

Go Wild on Wednesdays
Last week, I mentioned Maestro's Wednesday theme dinners. Wednesday is becoming quite a night for restaurant events.

At Cleveland Park's Dino, Wednesday is wine night. Taste a flight of three special wines with three appetizer pairings for $25 per person. Next week showcases white wines from Friuli, while the schedule for future Wednesdays includes Rosatos, fizzy reds from Emilia Romagna and Rosso di Montalcino. In addition, wines over $50 are 33% off, while corkage fees are waived for those who bring their own bottles.

Food Matters declares Wednesday to be pasta night. Each week, the restaurant offers a seasonal side salad and unlimited servings of three nightly pastas for $18 per person. Last night's pastas featured carbonara, salmon and dill and an asparagus pasta with spring vegetables.

At Vegetate, diners can enjoy music from DJ Dave Nada from 7 to 9 p.m. while munching on house sliders for $1 each. Where are your favorite Wednesday specials?

Light Lemongrass
Lemongrass is a refreshing flavor as the days heat up. You can find it in abundance at most Thai and Vietnamese restaurants, but a few places have gone the distance in incorporating the citrusy stalk into their menus.

At DISH + drinks, the lemongrass mojito is a cool option, while Restaurant Eve uses a stalk of lemongrass to enhance the Tomato Water Bloody Mary.

For light bites, Cafe MoZU cures salmon in lemongrass, while Zengo's calamari has a zesty combination of lime and lemongrass.

On the sweeter side, TenPenh offers a warm ginger and lemongrass poundcake with huckleberries and lime coconut sorbet. 701 finishes it off with lemongrass creme brulee with ginger ice cream, while Asia Nora serves a lemongrass panna cotta with coconut crisp.

Soon to Come
Oenophiles can rejoice that the wine-oriented Proof plans a late-May opening in Chinatown. The restaurant, owned by avid wine collector Mark Kuller, will feature a list of over 500 wines -- 40 by the glass -- and a champagne trolley to provide tableside access to bubbly. The menu, by former Asian Nora chef Haidar Karoum, will comprise around a dozen small plates of items including raw options, charcuterie and cheeses, and several larger plates of American fare tinged with Mediterranean flavors. The restaurant will serve brunch and a late night bar menu.

If all goes as well, June will be buzzing with new openings:
Rock Creek aims to open its second healthy location, deemed Rock Creek Mazza, next month. Acclaimed chef Ris Lacoste, who manned the kitchen of 1789 until last year, has consulted on all aspects of the opening, from staffing to menu development. Located inside the Mazza Gallerie, the restaurant will continue Rock Creek's tradition of flavorful, healthy fare.

The Dupont-area location of Vapiano will open at 18th and M streets on June 1. Offering salads, pasta and pizza, this "fresh casual" chain is a must-try for the local lunchtime crowd with quick service and dozens of delicious customizable options for pizza toppings and pasta sauces. A Chinatown-area location will open later this summer.

The Heights, from the team behind Grillfish, Logan Tavern and Merkado Kitchen, looks to open as early as next month. The American restaurant, located on 14th and Kenyon streets, will feature high ceilings, a bar and an 80-seat patio. The menu will include American classics, such as meatloaf and rotisserie options, as well as pastas, steaks and a variety of pies and cakes for dessert.

Aykan Demiroglu, a former manager at Le Paradou, plans to open Locanda on Capitol Hill in the former Meyhane space in as early as mid-June. The restaurant promises some much-needed Italian and Mediterranean fare.

The strip of 18th Street around Lauriol Plaza expects two new restaurants in not-too-distant future:
Cherry Blossom, which bills itself as a sushi restaurant and wine bar, is still under renovations in the 1900 block of 18th Street. Meanwhile, down the block, signs promise a Peruvian restaurant called Inti in the former Caravan Grill location at 1825 18th Street. I will provide updates as more information is available about both spaces.

A bit further into the future, these spots are certainly worth waiting for:
The Source, the destination restaurant inside the upcoming Newseum, is the first Washington-area restaurant from celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. The restaurant, which aims to open in early fall, promises to offer casual dining in a downstairs bar and grill with a more upscale option upstairs that incorporates the flavors of the Chesapeake into Puck's signature California style.

West End, from Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, is set to open in the Ritz Carlton hopefully by the end of this year. Ripert will not man the kitchen, but Tom Sietsema reports that he will send "one of his top sous chefs" to handle the task.

This Week's Events
This Sunday, Ballston transforms Wilson Blvd. into a street fair for the Taste of Arlington. Area restaurants, including Willow, Tandoori Nights, Vapiano, Ted's Montana Grill, Robek's, Wasabi, Pinzimini, Carlyle, Moorenko's and so many others offer samples of their finest dishes. With entertainment, activities and a bit of beer and wine, this is a prime opportunity to take stock of local dining options. Today (Thursday) is the last day to buy books of six tasting tickets online for $20. After today, prices increase to $25.

On Monday, Georgetown's Birreria Paradiso offers a four-course dinner inspired by six beers from Dogfish Head brewery for $60. The beers include Raison d' Extra, Immort Ale, the Belgian-style Black and Blue, Midas Touch and the brewery's flagship beer 60 minute IPA.

Tuesday, San Marco offers its monthly dinner with wine pairings for $49.50. The menu includes a Negroni cocktail, lima beans with red onions, penne alla Gorgonzola, fresh trout with white wine and almonds and tiramisu.


By Erin  | May 17, 2007; 11:19 AM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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