One of our favorite go-to cuisines is by far Italian. We can't help it. We could both eat it every single day. That's why we were so excited to try Osteria da Nino in Shirlington for the first time. Many tourists and people new to the area only know the main stretch of Arlington County which is the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor because of its convenient location along the metro line. However, some people forget about the countless other gems of Arlington like Shirlington. Shirlington is the most perfect little neighborhood with a restaurant for anyone's taste including Italian, Thai, Sushi, American, Farm to Table, Hawaiian, Chinese, Latin and several more. Even though we had been to Shirlington many times, we had not made our way over to Osteria da Nino just yet because it is off the main street (around the corner from Carlyle to be exact).
Upon walking into Osteria da Nino, we immediately noticed the large display of wines from all over the world. The atmosphere of Osteria da Nino was certainly more of a modern Italian decor with beautiful vast chandeliers set in a cozy lit space. It's definitely more of an adult scene and perfect for date night. The restaurant is family-owned which we absolutely adored and the owner, Nino, greets every customer either upon entering the space or at your table. We love it when a restaurant owner makes time for his or her customers because it shows how much they truly care about their guests and customer service. We were delighted to hear his story about how he opened Osteria da Nino and what his favorite wines were off the wine list. We always make sure to note the owner's favorite dishes or drinks when upon ordering. Osteria da Nino also has a spacious patio out front and a private party room in the back of the restaurant should guests want to rent it out.
Something to note is that the first Wednesday of every month, the restaurants hosts a complimentary wine tasting from 5-7PM. In addition, Osteria da Nino has a daily happy hour, Monday-Friday, from 3-7 PM at the bar only.
Never one to say no to Italian wine, the Nero D'Avola wine from Sicily caught my eye immediately. Blake opted for a glass of the Poggio Badiola red wine from the region of Tuscany. Both tasted quite different and I preferred mine over his. It was similar to a Cabernet Sauvignon. Our waitress brought us their homemade pesto which was an incredibly flavorful combination of arugula, mint, olive oil, basil and parmesan paired with their warm bread. Blake usually does not like pesto but he was a huge fan of this! We could not get enough.
We then opted for one of our favorites, Caprese Puglia Burrata, for an appetizer (pictured below). For those of you who haven't crossed over from mozzarella, you need to try burrata cheese ASAP. It is so deliciously creamy and when paired with heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil oil, and sea salt, it makes for a tasty treat. We topped it with balsamic vinegar as well to make it feel like we were back in Italy.
We then had a dish of crispy brussels sprouts served over beet puree and pistachios (seen below). We've been on a brussels sprouts frenzy lately and I have to say these were not out favorite. We liked the flavor but thought they were too charred for our taste. Both of these appetizers are best to share between 3-4 people.
We decided to order two separate entrees, Blake opting for the Cavatelli con Ragu di Agnello which was a dish of cavatelli noodles, lamb ragu, mint oil, and Sicilian pecorino cheese. The noodles were a bit too al dente for our liking and the lamb was very flavorful, however we would have liked a little more sauce. (However, Blake likes more sauce on everything so everyone has a different opinion)!
I ordered the classic Bucatini Carbonara Roman Style in other words, Spaghetti alla Carbonara. It was a large bowl of thick tubular spaghetti, egg yolk, parmiggiano cheese and house made pancetta. Blake kept taking bites from mine as I tried to eat my way through this creamy yet delicate pasta dish. The pancetta was just the right amount of crisp to add to the pasta! If you haven't had Spaghetti alla Carbonara, you have to try it! It is a staple of Italian cuisine and a must for any bacon lover!
Lastly, we finished on a sweet note with their Melograni Cheesecake (pictured below) which was quite different than any other cheesecake I have ever had. Blake did not want any dessert whatsoever so I ordered this dish of pomegranate cheesecake, pine nut crackers served with caramel gelato. The waitress had brought it out while I was in the restroom, and when I got back, Blake had already eaten half of it. He claimed it was the best cheesecake he had ever had! I personally did not love it because it didn't have the graham cracker crust on the bottom that I normally love in a cheesecake. However, the pomegranate was so smooth and unique and it paired extremely well with the delicious caramel gelato.
Overall, we would highly recommend coming to Osteria da Nino for Happy Hour and grabbing a seat at the bar or bringing a special someone for a lovely date night. Their wine selection is incredible and you will not have trouble finding something you like. To find out more about Osteria da Nino or to see their menu, visit their website.