June 30, 2008
Dishin': Getting Sauced at Tidbit
Per the dictionary definition, a tidbit is a delicate or tender morsel of food…a choice or pleasing bit.
Tidbit, the north Capitol Hill restaurant that’s Italian meets Spanish in a non-fusion fashion, offered us tidbits aplenty during a recent visit. And it was in the tidbits called tapas that we found our favorites—with carryover to other parts of the menu.
Owners John van Deinse and Nicola Longo are welcoming and as warm as the orange walls that highlight the intimate dining room, and we turned over control of the menu to them. We confess we loved the little crock full of rosemary-scented sweet potato fries. Addictive—and fun to dip in a side of whole grain mustard aioli. The aioli was a wonderful match, and would later be a perfect complement to shaved pieces of incredibly tender, grilled leg of lamb.
Equally impressive, and total eye candy, were a couple of arancini—orange balls (arancini means little oranges in Sicilian) that are actually fried risotto cakes made with saffron and tomato, full of melted mozzarella inside. What made these special was the accompanying salsa sciué sciué, (one of the table’s tidbit of trivia cards—nice touch!—told us that sciué sciué is Neopolitan for presto, presto). We think we detected this quick tomato salsa in the garlicky sauce of the shrimp tapa, and wished we had some for the baccala entrée—an interesting spin on fish and chips featuring salt cod and fried zucchini that would have been great to dip in some sauce.
Sauced is what we almost became after drinking the grappa and cello flights that came with dessert. The limoncello went well with the lemon tartufo (gelato with a limoncello cream center), though the nocello (walnut and hazelnut) was most interesting and refreshing. Even more refreshing were Nic and John, who are proud of their place and the plates they serve. Forward or backward (hey…the word "tidbit" works that way—in both directions!), the menu is full of items that, while not home runs, are all solid hits—choice morsels that are certainly pleasing.