Back to Ristorante Renato

My parents are food snobs.

There, I said it. Now let me back up…my parents are not snobs, but they are foodies. Mom is an amazing cook, and they both have great taste. Picking a place to take them to dinner has always made me slightly nervous. I think “What if they hate the food? I hope the service isn’t terrible. Will they have Maker’s Mark??”

They came up for the UMW-CSO James Galway concert. I decided to take them to Ristorante Renato, which we went to during Restaurant Week. The restaurant reminds me of NJ, where Dad lived for several years for work. It has an old-school feeling, it’s cozy, there’s no pretension, and it’s tasty delicious.

It was a hit! My parents thought the food was great. They adored the calamari, which is very lightly breaded and comes with a wonderful marinara dipping sauce. We all devoured our house salads, which had a light but zesty Italian dressing. Mom had a veal chop, which was huge but tender and perfectly cooked. Dad had veal parmiggiano; he thought it was good, but couldn’t decide if he was 100% a fan of the breading. Mom believes adding mozzarella to veal parmiggiano is always a bad decision. Potato, potahto. M had the fish special, and I had chicken marsala (yes, I’m boring, I know). We also had several drinks – Dad’s aforementioned Maker’s Mark and then a red wine, Mom had prosecco, I had cosmos, and M had his beloved Dirty martini.

The service was great, and although the booths are small, they generate a family feel and promote conversation. We really enjoyed our visit, yet again!

Renato

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Restaurant week continues…

Friday night, we met up with our great friends JS & MS.

We had reservations at 730 at Ristorante Renato, which none of us had ever been to before, despite many years living in town. Renato is an old-school Italian restaurant, and feels immediately familiar even on the first visit. The food is classic Italian, with lots of white wine sauces, marinara sauces, and veal dishes.We decided to warm up with some drinks – MS had a sav blanc, I had pinot grigio, and the boys… Well, M ordered a dirty martini. JS, for some reason, decided to order one as well. He had never had one before. He hates olive juice. The drinks were served, he tasted it and said “well, it’s certainly dirty…”  JS was a champ and managed to finish it, though.

We all agreed on the restaurant menu from the get-go. M and MS ordered Oysters Rockefeller, and JS and I ordered the mozzarella in carozzo.

Here’s the thing: MS & I joke that our husbands are interchangeable. JS is as picky as I am about food, and MS and M are both the adventurous eaters with similar “favorites”. MS and M prefer red wine and seafood, JS and I are happy with sweeter white wines and basic chicken dishes. A double date match made in heaven!

Anyhoo, MS and M both really liked their Oysters. M said he liked this oyster dish better than True Luv, but only because Renato gave him two oysters instead of one. J and I both agreed the mozzarella was good, but we also wish the sauce had been thicker or poured on right before serving. The breading sat in the white wine sauce and of course got a little soggy. Sometimes the crunch is the best part, and I did miss that.

For entrees, MS and M both got tilapia with crabmeat, which was served as a generous portion. JS ordered the cheese ravioli, which looked wonderful and had perfect pillows of pasta. I ordered the Pollo Milano, breaded chicken in white wine sauce. It was accompanied by pasta with marinara sauce, which was perfect to cut through the white wine. We all cleared our plates!

For dessert, we decided to each get one of the three options. We asked our waitress to explain the Spumoni – she advised it was an ice cream dish with cherry, strawberry, and something blue. But DEFINITELY not pistachio. Maybe blueberry.

So of course, when the Spumoni arrived….the “blue” layer was bright green, pistachio, and had slivers of pistachios throughout. We thought it was hilarious, and while I’m not a fan of pistachio, it was still quite well made. M and JS ordered the cappucino panna cotta, and MS had the cannoli. The cannoli was small and had a pleasant cinnamon taste.

Afterwards, we trekked out into the cold and went a block down to Castiglia’s. Castiglia’s is another Italian restaurant that recently had an amazing renovation to a chic, modern, upscale neighborhood bar and restaurant. We squeezed into a table at the back and the boys had a beer, MS had another wine, and I had a Ciroc Chic (Ciroc, pineapple, pomegrante, twist of lime). We sat and talked, laughed, and caught up.

We had a delicious meal, but the company of great friends makes anything memorable and more fun.

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