Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mia Dona - A True Gift

For my stepmother's birthday last night, my father suggested we have dinner at Mia Dona, a restaurant that just opened in February in his neighborhood. When I saw the name of the restaurant, I wondered what it meant. Was it a misspelling of "donna" which means woman, or was the restaurant called My Gift? Doing some research on the place, I found out it means neither. One of the restaurant's co-owners is named Donatella. Still, I like to think the name means gift because eating there is a gift and the chef certainly has a gift.

Mia Dona was really hopping when we got there. It's amazing that a place that's so new could be so crowded. The space isn't large, but I never felt cramped and I was never rushed. Service was excellent, with one of the owners cruising by the tables to chat with diners. Decor was pleasantly understated. The bar area had painted walls with their weird decorative plates all over them, while the dining room had black-and-white floral wallpaper. Lighting was appropriately soft. Service was not the least bit rushed despite the crowds and was so incredibly friendly and helpful.

Cuisine is Italian - sort of. Dishes start with a lot of classic Italian ingredients, but ended up someplace entirely different. They were original and innovative.

I began my meal with gnudi in truffle and sage butter. The gnudi tasted like ravioli that had been transformed into happy little pillows. It was further flavored with pieces of speck (back to that pork fat thing again - yum) and some odd little mushrooms. Mushrooms do tend to scare me a bit because I only like a few varieties (I don't want to be seeing pretty colors on the wall after all), but these were mild. The pasta made me very eager for the next course.

My entree was a lovely pork chop topped with a fried egg. It was definitely weird, but very enjoyable. If you eat eggs with bacon, why not eggs with a pork chop? Lightly dressed frisee with bacon bits accompanied it. The pork came pre-sliced for me and was very tender and juicy.

Dad had a short rib and polenta while Kevin had pasta with mussels, shrimp, and calamari. Everyone enjoyed it.

For dessert I had a gianduia semifreddo. The base layer was an almost solid chocolate block and it was topped with a chocolate-hazelnut fluff and covered with praline. It was worth every single calories.

I would definitely recommend this place to anyone, but I suggest you get a reservation soon because if this place is so popular now, I can't imagine how hard it will be to get a reservation in a few months.


Emiline said...

Everything sounds so good. Italian is my favorite cuisine. I'm kind of feeling the short ribs with polenta. I've never made or eaten short ribs before. I've seen several recipes for short ribs served with polenta, so is that a traditional accompaniment?

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Short ribs are yummy, but definitely are special occasion food. They're very high in fat and calories. They're not hard to make. You brown them, put them on to braise, and walk away. If you want a great recipe to try, go to the Food Network website and look up Dave Lieberbman's beer-braised short ribs with hoisin. They're fantastic.

Short ribs are usually served with something starchy to soak up the sauce. I think polenta is used a lot because it really does soak up the juices perfectly and the flavor of it stands up to the meat.