Judging Restaurants – Tortino

1228 11th Street, NW

Tortino Italian restaurant opened up at 1228 11th St, NW back in Dec. 2011. Their website says:

Chef Noé Canales headed for Italy in 1991 in what would become a life changing experience. He developed a love for the country and the rich heritage of the cuisine. The flavors of a potato soup with an over easy egg and white truffle still linger in his memory of one of the best dishes he has ever eaten.

Noé returned to the United States to work in the famed BiCE restaurant known for power lunches and unbelievable Italian flavors created by Chef Giovanni (Gianni) Scappin. Chef recognized young Noé curiosity and moved him from the dishwasher to the food line within a year.

In 1993 Chef Noé moved to Cafe Milano under the direction of Chef Domenico Cornacchia to be a part of the opening team in a very successful kitchen and then joined him on the opening team of Duca di Milano in 1994. By 1995 Chef Domenico brought young Noé with him to Las Vegas to open the revered Trevise La Scalla under owner Franco Nuschese.

Luigi Diotaiuti’s Al Tiramisu was home to Chef Canales for more than seven years. As a Sues Chef at Al Tiramisu he developed his craft and skill for creating fine Italian food before moving to Restorante Tosca in 2002. Chef Canales became the Chef de Cuisine of Tosca under the leadership of Chef Massimo Fabbri and owner Paolo Sacco. It was at Tosca that he began to dream of one day owning his own restaurant with the straight forward flavors of the Northern Italian cuisine he experienced in Tuscany years ago.

Noé’s journey through Italy and the kitchens of esteemed chefs have culminated in a wonderful expression of contemporary Italian cuisine and a dream come true through the opening of the restaurant Tortino. The dining room of Tortino is elegant with soft textures that lend to both comfort and sophistication. Executive Chef and owner Noé welcomes you to experience his vision.

You can see their menu here.

Any fans? For the fans any must order items from the menu?

Stay tuned for the addition of a sidewalk cafe.

17 Comment

  • Tortino is a hidden gem. Excellent food and impeccable service at an affordable price.

  • clevelanddave

    Some people seem to like it. I thought it was ok. Better choices nearby at this price point (around 90.00 for two with wine) such as Bibiana.

    • bfinpetworth

      Well I’m a big fan of Bibiana but I think it a good deal higher in price. But the comparison is helpful, as I’m a huge fan of Bibiana’s squid ink pasta.

  • One of the best values in DC. I’ve been there twice in the last couple months, and both meals were excellent. Highly recommend.

  • lindz0722

    LOVE Tortino. Great food, reasonable prices (relatively, given it’s in DC), good specials. Not much to speak of decor-wise, but I think the rest makes up for it. Hopefully the slightly off the beaten path location helps it continue to be a hidden gem.

  • We tried this a few weeks back based on the assessments here that it was one of the few places that lived up to the hype. I’m not sure I’d agree. It was decent, but honestly, I’ve had better. Some interesting flavors, but my entree was over-salted such that I debated sending it back. We were sat in the middle of the restaurant, but somehow managed to have a ton of folks crowded around our table as they waited for theirs. Either they over-booked themselves or has a lot of people without reservations. We even had folks lording over our table wondering what we had ordered, as if were they to ask us nicely we might be inclined to let them try something. I chalked it up to Tortino having an off night, but even so I’m not in a hurry to go back.

  • I love the food — the chef certainly knows what he is doing. I like to go here for a low key, nice dinner, where I know I’ll get good food at a very reasonable price (and with ample portions).

    But the waitstaff can be so informal to the point of downright amusing. For example, a few months ago, I asked the waiter to tell me a little about a particular bottle of wine on the list (I think they only have 8 or so… so it’s not like I picked something random off a 50+ bottle list). His response: “All I know about that wine is that it sells really good.” I found the candor (and that he didn’t make something up) … refreshing perhaps. Yet the chef may want to make sure his front of house staff matches the attitude he is trying to convey with the food!

    As for the comparison to Bibiana above — I don’t think these are in the same price point at all. $90 for 2 with wine sounds about right for here. Bibiana I’d anticipate the similar meal at 140 to 150.

    In any event, I return happily every couple of months. This is on the rotation of two or three places that, when we don’t have anywhere special to go, and we only feel like walking a few blocks, my girlfriend and I will go on a random dinner.

  • We loved this place — simple, classy, and super yummy!

  • Tortino is a go-to. They’re very good, especially at this price point. I don’t think there’s any relevant comparison to Bibiana; totally different restaurants besides the style of cuisine.

  • I went not too long after it opened and thought it was fine, but not quite good enough to go to from Bloomingdale (which says something.) I agree the inside was ho hum. And the food was just meh. I’ll have to try it again, though.

  • As someone else mentioned, the decor could use some work but the food is amazing! I’ve been here a few times and we keep coming back for their fresh pasta. Try the braised lamb shank- – it will make you fall to your knees and want to lick your plate!

  • We tried going on Friday and there was a notice that they were closed because of a major power outage. Does anyone know if it was just one day?

    • diploj

      They are back open. They reopened on Saturday, so it was just a blip.

      I think this place is great. The emphasis is on the food rather than on the decor. If you have to choose one or the other, I think they chose wisely. They’ve got a great happy hour and make all (maybe almost all) of their pasta noodles in house — fresh and delicious. They are opening a patio soon, where I believe they’ll begin offering brunch service. Can’t wait.

  • “Sues Chef “? Really, right on the website?

  • clevelanddave

    Well, here are the two menus:

    Bibiana: http://www.bibianadc.com/dinner-menu/

    About 18-22 for pasta mains, 22-27 for fish, chicken

    Tortino: http://www.tortinorestaurant.com/menu.html

    About 14-17 for pasta mains, 16-25 for fish, chicken

    So Tortino is a little cheaper, but not much. Way better service, ambiance and food at Bibiana. Like I said, app, entree, dessert, two glasses of wine with tip around 90-100.

    • I’ve been to Bibiana three times now, and have been disappointed each time. And there’s no way you’re walking out of there spending $90 for dinner for two (inc. drinks).

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