Within a whirlwind of contemporary and gourmet flair, one can taste the traditional roots of Café Oggi’s inspiration.
This eatery is far from the ordinary Italian restaurant found around Northern Virginia – the mom and pop pizzerias and commercialized restaurant chains one usually finds. Pulling out all the stops, Café Oggi is an experience for the connoisseur as well as the culturally curious.
As I walked through the heavy wooden doors, McLean disappeared behind me and I found myself in Italy: sensuous Italian music filled the romantic dinning hall – small tables scattered about the intimate space, covered with crisp white tablecloths.
The menu was not even opened when my adventure into Italian delicacies began. The waiter detailed the specials in fluent Italian, and I – not knowing a word of Italian – asked for his suggestion. Placed before me was the Scaloppine alla Salsa di Limone ($21.95), sliced veal layered with spinach and fontina cheese, drizzled with lemon sauce, served with soft squash and soft-whipped garlic mashed potatoes. The thick layer of moist spinach was surprisingly complementary to the tender veal. The soft melted cheese added to the texture of every bite, which led me to wish the plate was endless.
My guest, who had taken the time to open his menu and see the translation within, ordered the Borsini di Ricotta ($13.95): round pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach in a cream sauce. Not being able to resist sneaking a bite, I found the thick ricotta and cream sauce intermingled nicely. Each taste was perfect.
The Branzino al Forno ($21.95) was another eye-popping specialty. This fresh Italian striped bass filet, baked with artichokes in a white wine sauce, arrived at the table whole, where one can witness the authentic touches of the Café Oggi waiters as they take special attention to remove the head, tail and scales at the table for their mouth-watering guests. The delicate act was impressive.
For dessert, I ordered tiramisu ($7.95), an Italian specialty and one of Café Oggi’s own recipes, consisting of layered mascarpone cheese with savoiardi cookies, which are much like lady fingers, dipped in espresso. The dish was completed by a serving of white chocolate sauce and a dusting of dark chocolate powder.
However, having had sweeter expectations, I was slightly let down by the tiramisu. The cheese and cookie combination topped with mild white chocolate sauce was not very sweet, and the powdered dark chocolate left my mouth dry.
Café Oggi would be great for those special occasions like birthdays, graduations or even wedding parties. The restaurant is also well suited for big engagements with its private dining room and bar. The room is secluded and, for the most part, out of sight to regular patrons.
Although Café Oggi tries to serve walk-in guests to the best of their ability, reservations are suggested on their website (www.cafeoggi.com), and can be made over the internet or by phone.
Another interesting aspect to Café Oggi is its openness to input through its online forum, where patrons can suggest new concoctions and recipes for the restaurant to take into consideration.
For a change of pace from the everyday, typical Italian fare found around Northern Virginia, Café Oggi is an indulgence that wakes up the palate and leaves one feeling like they’ve been transported to a far off land.
6671 Old Dominion Drive
Monday – Saturday 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., 5:30 – 10 p.m.
Sunday 5 – 9 p.m.