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Following Y&H’s recent column on Italian restaurants in or near downtown D.C., a reader wondered why I didn’t include Dino among the contenders for Galileo‘s heavyweight crown.  I had a simple answer: Dino isn’t in or near downtown D.C.

But last fall, I did chime in on Dino after owner Dean Gold installed himself as chef. Now it’s the Raters’ turn. They have mixed feelings about Gold’s place — and Gold himself.

Writes Rater E1009:

My party was entirely underwhelmed by Dino. The experience began poorly when the owner lectured my friend for not having his entire party there at the time of our reservation. I understand that the owner had a schedule to keep, but trying to guilt-trip one’s customers for things they cannot control is unprofessional. We began with the Scamorza and the Insalata Grigliata. The Scamorza was delicious; the Insalata Grigliata was less so. The salad first came ungrilled so it had to be taken back. Then, when it did arrive, the lettuce was wilted and there was a chocolate covered espresso bean in it. This did not inspire confidence regarding the kitchen’s attention and organization. Our main courses included the Congilio al Prosecco, Linguine con Cozze, Arrosto d’Orata and Pappardelle al Cinghiale. The rabbit was overdone and dry. The boar, while tasty, hadn’t stewed long enough. The mussels and the arrosto d’orata were the best dishes, but they were solid – not extraordinary. For a restaurant charging Dino’s prices, it is reasonable to expect an above-average experience. Our party was decidedly underwhelmed.

But Rater kzimmer had a far more enjoyable experience:

This was my third trip to Dino and, as in the past, it was a very good experience. One of the reasons I like Dino is that they serve the type of food I like to eat – simple, seasonal preparations with lots of high quality fruits,vegetables and proteins and with generous amounts of really good olive oil. The wine list is tremendous and would be overwhelming except that the wait staff is always on hand to help out with the perfect selection. I started the meal with a half portion of Pappardelle all’Aglione (or the “Big Garlic”) which lived up to its name – a good thing in my book. My favorite part of the dish was the generous amounts of whole garlic cloves cooked so soft that they broke up when touched with a fork. My husband had a red beet salad that was light, summery and delicious. For a main course I had the Arrosto d’Orata – a whole grilled fish with lemon, capers and olive oil. The fish broke away easily from the bones and the skin was salty, crispy and fatty. The lemon and capers provided the perfect side not. I know that not everyone likes to eat whole fish that comes with a head, skin and lots of bones – but this one is really worth a try. The husband had the rockfish (a fillet) and was very happy with his choice as well. I didn’t sample much of his dish because I was so happy with my own – but the same can also be said of him. Unlike the whole fish (which is served without any sides) the rockfish came with some cooked greens that had lots of texture and lots of flavor (a little spicy). I enjoyed eating them with my fish as well. For desert he ordered a rhubarb dish with vanilla gelato. The rhubarb was just too heavy for us after such a large meal but the vanilla gelato was amazing. I ordered a cheese plate with bra and fontina. The onion marmalade that came with it was overpowering but it came on the side so no biggie. My favorite cheese was the bra that was rich and creamy but also sharp and tangy. Thanks Dino for another great dinner.

How to reconcile the two? You have to do what every potential diner does with the wealth of public opinion online: You have to weigh all the available reviews and determine if the overall vibe is positive.  You can read all the Dino reviews here.

Do you have your own opinion on Dino? Then let us know what you think!

Photo by Darrow Montgomery