img_6183There’s a classic old song that urges us to “make new friends but keep the old…one is silver and the other is gold.”  After a visit to Dino last night, I can say that the sentiment definitely holds true, and Dino’s new Happy Hour special only adds to the golden charm of a restaurant we get to far less often than we’d like.

It’s an ironic drawback to writing a food blog: In an attempt to experience as many new places as possible within your budget, you end up neglecting the restaurants you really enjoy.  So when Jason from DC Foodies suggested we get together to check out owner (and now chef) Dean Gold’s complimentary spread of pate, crostini, olives and giardiniera, I jumped at the chance.

While many restaurateurs have responded to the leaner economy with tightened belts, raised prices and diminished portions, Gold has basically thrown his arms wide open and shouted “Come and get it!” with deals and offers that indicate that he does get it.

More on what’s new after the jump.

Photo of the bar at Dino from

From 5:30 to 7 PM Sundays through Fridays, all wines and cocktails are 25% off.  And to sweeten the deal further, Dean Gold and his kitchen staff put together a spread that would make any Italian grandmother proud, and they just give it away.  It’s all complimentary!  Last night we enjoyed housemade pate, crostini with toppings including duck livers, olive tapenade and a red pepper puree, and a pickled vegetable mixture (giardiniera) that was everything my recent attempt was not – spicy and crisp with a great vinegary bite.  You can easily tide yourself over with the complimentary offerings, but there are some great new menu items that are also worth a look.

Dino’s new Happy Hour is just one of the ways that Gold continues to reach out to entice customers to his Cleveland Park location.  Dino has consistently and enthusiastically participated in Restaurant Weeks, usually offering their entire menu with minimal upcharges and extending the promotion beyond the standard one-week window.  In fact, Dino is currently running the same $35.08 deal that they did for the most recent Summer Restaurant Week every Sunday through Thursday: three courses plus a glass of grappa, moscato or limoncello.

Photo of Dean and Kay from

Photo of Dean and Kay from

Perhaps the greatest values lie in Gold’s encyclopedic wine list, which showcases his own love of the vine and features a great mix of high-end and everyday bottles from around the world.  Naturally, some of the best bets can be found among the wines of Italy, but Dino gives you plenty of opportunity to expand your horizons: Wine Madness, a promotion run every Sunday and Monday, offers a 33% discount on all bottles over $50 (a deal that supercedes the 25% happy hour discount when it is in effect), and they offer free corkage on Tuesdays and Thursdays if you’ve got a bottle at home that has been waiting to go with a rich, hearty meal.  If you do bring your own, think about offering Gold a taste – Whether he’s tried it already or not, he’ll certainly appreciate the gesture.

I’ve got some long-time favorite entrees and the quality of the cheeses at Dino continues to blow me away, but that’s a post for another time.  For now, I simply encourage you to think about Dino for your next Happy Hour gathering.   The quality of the bar snacks alone makes it worth the trip, and the 25% savings on cocktails and wine mean that you can enjoy the good stuff without feeling bad about it later.

3435 Connecticut Ave., NW (corner of Ordway and Connecticut)
Washington, DC  20008
(202) 686-2966

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