Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Masseria, located near Union Market, offers prix fixe menus (3 courses at $62 or 5 selections at $84) that showcase a deeply satisfying range of chef Nick Stefanelli’s signature cuisine: "inventive and elegant, inspired by his love of the Italian coast, and subject to masterful flights of his culinary imagination."  The relaxed coastal European vibe of the restaurant sets in the moment you pass through dramatic high-walled gates to the handsome, welcoming piazza.  Closest Metro is Gallaudet University.

From the website: "Nick Stefanelli grew up in suburban Maryland with a strong influence coming from his close relationship to his Greek and Italian grandparents whose culinary heritage was a fact of life. Traveling in Puglia, where his family still resides and has roots, Stefanelli became enchanted by the masseria, centuries-old agricultural estates whose residents worked the land, created their own food, and hosted strangers with great warmth."  Keith and I snagged reservations for our pre-Thanksgiving dinner.  We were seated at the marble counter that faced into the kitchen.  We had a prime view of all the plating action throughout the night.  A large wall of wine - some in refrigerated cases and others stacked in shelves was to our left.

We decided to go with 5 selections each.  I liked that you could mix and max 1 appetizer, 2 pasta, 1 meat, 1 dessert; or 2 pasta and 2 meat with 1 dessert; or any other combination of your liking.   If you wanted to do all 5 savory selections there was a $10 upcharge.  They were also featuring white Alba truffles, so you could add a 2 oz shave to any dish for a $50 supplement.  We tried to order strategically so we could share, but ended up choosing what we each liked and would enjoy regardless.  As an amuse we were treated to arancini  - fried rice balls stuffed with mushroom and tomato sauce.  It sat on a small pool of Parmesan cream.  The arancini were perfectly crispy and piping hot.  We also enjoyed the olive bread sticks and foccacia (presented in a cute cigar box) with tomato spread.

For my first course, I ordered the Burrata - a large ball of burrata cheese from Puglia topped with oysters, cipollini onions, and chives.  The brininess of the oysters paired well with the sweet onions and creamy cheese.  This dish was surprisingly tasty and left a smile on my face.

Keith ate the Trippa - marinated beef tripe with lobster.  The presentation of the tripe was like pasta in a rich ragu.  The lobster paired well with the organ meat and provided a great start to the meal.

I also enjoyed a lovely vegetarian plate of Barbabiatola - beets with walnuts and mint and a light dressing made with anchovy.  The textures in this dish were fun and I liked the tart and tangy flavors.

Next, Keith ate the Carne Cruda - a tartare of Chapel Hill Farm Ruby Veal with black truffle, parmigiano cream sauce, chervil, radish, and celery.  There was a balance of flavors when you ate each ingredient together in one bite, with a clean and peppery finish from the celery and radish.

For my pasta course, I devoured the Linguine made with Masseria spicy XO sauce, olive oil, and garlic.  The XO sauce is made with seafood that gave an umaminess to the dish.  The pasta had lots of bite to it and the extra crunch on top was interesting.

Keith ate a more creamy Agnolotti with cacio di Roma, egg, black pepper, and guanciale.  It had a breakfasty (bacon & egg) feel and was heavier than a carbonara pasta.

Progressing even heavier in the menu, I next ate the Storione.  Sturgeon fish was lightly cooked and served with roasted fingerling potatoes and topped with a red wine reduction.  This dish was uber savory with the right amount of salt.  However, my fish was not evenly cooked.  One half was cold.  I would have enjoyed it more if it were evenly cooked on each side, with maybe a lighter cooked center - but it must have been rushed.

Keith ate the Piccione - roasted squab with pink lady apples, red onion leeks, and spring onions.  The jus was very intense but the onions were a bit overkill.  Everything tasted great, but he only wish he had a larger portion of the squab meat.  The claw sure looked menacing though, ha.

As a segue into dessert, we were treated to a Cider Sorbetto with cinnamon apples and cream.  It tasted like apple pie - appropriate for Fall/Thanksgiving - and the sorbet was very refreshing.

For my dessert, I chose the Bombolini.  This artfully plated dish was comprised of little donuts stuffed with coconut cream, and various creams and dollops of persimmon, lime, and a limoncello gelato.  This was a lovely and light way to end the meal.

Keith chose a more traditional flavor combination with the Oro Cioccolato.  A flourless chocolate cake coated with gold served with chocolate crema, Piedmontese hazelnut brittle, and coffee gelato.  This dessert was not super sweet, and again was a nice ending to his meal.

The inspired tasting-menus are rooted in the flavors of Chef Nick's Italian heritage and showcase the organic, exploratory sensibility of the country’s cuisine emerging from its daily markets and seasonality of ingredients.  Each course was a virtual trip to the pretty seaside of Puglia. We were treated to some sweets with our check - cannolis and raspberry gelees.  Masseria is a chic and cosmopolitan Italian enclave within the Union Market area that prepares modern interpretations of cherished dishes and authentic favorites of Italy.  Nestled amongst warehouses in a sketchy area, I suspect it won't be too long before the surroundings are developed more soon, as is the case with our ever sprawling city.

UPDATE: This restaurant was awarded one Michelin star in October 2016.

Total Rating: 4.33
Food: 4.5, Price: 4, Service: 4, Ambience: 4.5, Accessibility: 4
What Micky Eats...

Masseria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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