By Ashley Eames
Capital Cooking Contributor
Extra Virgin is a modern Italian restaurant in Shirlington Village with an extensive menu of traditional Italian specialties, wood fired pizzas and homemade pastas. It’s a great place for a weekend date night as they now feature live jazz music in the cozy bar area on Friday and Saturday night.
The dining room at Extra Virgin is decorated with long red, green and white drapes, rich burgundy walls and cozy booths. We grabbed a table by the window, which was great for people watching. Service started a little slow as we waited for someone to take our drink order, but it gave us plenty of time to peruse the menu. The extensive wine list offers 36 wines by glass and a great bottle list with some of my favorite Italian varietals such as Primitivo, Chianti, Amarone, Barbara d'Alba and multiple Super Tuscans.
For our meal we started with the Angry Mussels and the Lobster Mac and Cheese. I’m not typically a huge fan of mussels, but these were kicked up a notch with the addition of jalapenos, spicy smoked pork and a Peroni broth. The combination created a unique flavor profile that was light and fresh but with more complexity.
The Lobster Mac and Cheese was deliciously rich and creamy. It immediately jumped out at me on the menu, and I’m so glad we tried it. The thick fontina cheese sauce was complimented by fresh herbs and finished with an earthy organic truffle oil. There weren’t a ton of lobster pieces, but it was very good and quite filling.
For our entrees the chef sent out the fish of the day, a lovely piece of Rockfish, and the Mushroom Ravioli. The fish was very lightly seasoned but had the most amazing crispy skin on top. It was served atop asparagus and a side of orzo pasta salad. I did find it odd that the orzo was chilled rather than served warm or at least room temperature. It was a very nice piece of fish though and was a great healthy option for dinner.
The Mushroom Ravioli was clearly not on the healthy side, but is a great dish for mushroom lovers. It was served with a garlic cream sauce that was packed full of flavor. The ravioli was stuffed with a Portobello mushroom mixture and crimini mushrooms were mixed with sun-dried tomatoes to finish the sauce. Similar to the Mac and Cheese appetizer, this was a very rich, decadent dish that I would come back for again. The sauce was one of the best I’ve ever had.
Dessert almost pushed us over the edge, but it was well worth it. My personal favorite the Butterscotch Bread Pudding topped with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce. It reminded me of French Toast a bit. We also tried the Poached Pear and the Flourless Chocolate Cake. The pear was beautifully poached in Barolo wine and served with cinnamon ice cream. The most unique item was the Maker’s Mark Butter Pecan ice cream that was served with the Flourless Chocolate Cake. You could really taste the bourbon and it paired perfectly with the chocolate.
Extra Virgin also offers numerous gluten free (Stuffed Dates, Shrimp and Garlic Confit, Filet Porcini, Seafood Mixed Grill) and vegetarian options (Baked Eggplant, Portobello Mushroom Ravioli, Homemade Butternut Squash Ravioli). If you’re on a budget, you can choose from the four course tasting menu, which includes an appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert for only $39.
For a full-list of upcoming events and musical guests, visit the Extra Virgin website at www.extravirginva.com.