Try special-occasion fare for Restaurant Week

Written by on January 26, 2012 in Baltimore Bites - No comments

If you have never been to Little Italy’s Da Mimmo, it’s something to put on your bucket list. It’s a white-tablecloth restaurant where everything, from the place settings to the bread to the entrees and desserts, is carefully prepared and beautifully presented.

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Da Mimmo is also pricey, but it happens to be Baltimore Winter Restaurant Week, and if you want to try it out you can have the three-course dinner for $30.12 or the two-course lunch for $15.12.

We stopped by last week for lunch and ordered from their prix-fixe $21.95 three course lunch special, which is available daily, Restaurant Week or no. And we treated ourselves, because the surroundings at Da Mimmo—white linen, crystal goblets, velvet upholstery, Venetian texture on the walls—encourage extravagance.

The service was friendly and attentive and the food was delicious. We lingered, and left the restaurant after 90 minutes feeling well-fed and refreshed.

How did we get there? There were two appetizers on the prix fixe menu so we ordered both—a Caesar salad tossed with a handmade dressing, its salty sharpness tempered by egg and olive oil. Delicious.

We also tried oysters Fiorentino, two oysters on the half shell broiled with a topping of wilted fresh, bright green spinach and a thick, luxurious cream sauce liberally spiked with cheese. Delightful.

The bread basket held slices of warm Italian bread, the crust brown and blistered and the crumb soft and open, a beautiful loaf of bread from an expert baker. There is a carafe of extra virgin olive oil flavored with rosemary for dipping. We dipped. We asked for another basket of bread, which was cheerfully provided.

The pasta at Da Mimmo is fresh and handmade. We tried the penne Amatriciana ($12 if ordered from the menu). Penne pasta is a tube cut on the bias to resemble a quill pen, hence the name. The Amatriciana sauce is a simple marinara sauce tossed with prosciutto ham, garlic and chopped onion; that’s a deceptively simple description. The tomato sauce was subtly smoky from the ham and bright with a touch of vinegar. The onions were sweet from long simmering, and the waiter provided a generous sprinkling of Romano cheese. It was delicious, and not your usual pasta with red sauce.

Our greeter told us the specialty of the house is veal, and there was a veal scallopine piccata special on the menu, so we tried it. The veal is tender and milk-fed, its flavor delicate. The two rounds of scallopine were sautéed with fresh herbs in a rich lemon and butter sauce studded with capers. That dish was a delight.

We washed it all down with glasses of white zinfandel ($11) and sauvignon blanc ($12).

We weren’t done yet, though—dessert was a cute little Martini glass of zabaglione, a custard made with cream, eggs and Marsala, the strong Italian sherry. Another delight with many tastes, including a little bit of burnt sugar, which I like a lot.

And then there was the adorable little cannoli, served on a large plate drizzled with butterscotch. The filling was silky and sweet. We enjoyed these with espresso ($5) which was served with sugar-crystal stirrers.

Lunch for two came to $82.22 including tax but not tip. Da Mimmo, 217 S. High St., is open daily for lunch and dinner.

A note on Restaurant Week—while all of the restaurants on the list are offering discounts on their food, many of them, like Da Mimmo, limit the selection available, and none of them offers discounts on cocktails, wine and beer. For a list of restaurants participating, visit www.baltimorerestaurantweek.com.

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