Last Updated: 6/1/2021
Current Status: Bresca did a great job translating its inventive cooking and plating to the take-out world. Take-out is still available, but they have returned to doing dine-in, both inside and in the faux greenhouse structures they used prior to re-opening.
Before Times Review:
Last Visited: January 2019
The Chef/Owner of Bresca is Ryan Ratino, who brought some pizzazz back to Masa 14 and elevated Ripple (right before it closed). He now has the chance, early in his career, to forge his own identity and legend. So far, so good. Bresca is fresh, creative – sometimes innovative – cooking. Go now, so you can say “I went when…”
The dishes are layered with flavors and elements. Sometimes they may be too busy, but this is a chef pushing for something new and interesting, and that is a good thing. It is not surprising he is a veteran of molecular and avant-garde temples WD-50 and minibar. One standby in the first year was an insanely decadent Sea Urchin Linguini. Other ingredients for the dish listed on the menu (though probably not all those used) are truffle, chili, yeast butter, and porcini. Some likely blanch at the dollop of orange urchin resting on top, but the adventurous palate will be rewarded. Likewise, oysters and anything he puts on top will be provocative and likely pleasurable. The menu changes to reflect whim and weather. This is far from comfort food (though there are large meat dishes that can be ordered for the table), and those who shy away from cutting edge take heed.
The space is open and bright; blue, yellow and white dominate with other accents like a wall of live green shrubbery. It is a bright oasis of a place. Early into its run, Bresca caught on, and that will likely continue now that it has earned a Michelin star. Most nights the din of the dining room is vibrant but short of raucous. The service is nearly as earnest as the cooking, reflecting a team that seems excited to be a part of the experiment.
The wine list, as expected for a young restaurant, is focused and interesting, but not extensive. It leans toward old world and affordable. Cocktails are also highlighted and can border on precious (the Bee’s Knees is served in a bee shaped contraption).
When the story is told about the renaissance of D.C. dining, Bresca will be part of that oral history.
Other Guidance: A tie may be too formal, but it is certainly a nice place, and most will dress to match that. GF, V may work their way through the menu and staff will likely accommodate, but the menu does not appear to start with that in mind. Entrance is at street level with no stairs.
Washington Post: 2.5 from Tom.