Geranio Ristorante – A Complete Italian Night Out
Atmosphere: Congenial, flexible
Wine Bottle: $20-$58
Reservations: (703) 548-0088
Open: M-F 11:30am – 10:30pm
Sat 6:00pm – 10:30pm
Sun 5:30pm – 9:30pm
With a history that spans almost 40 years on King St., Geranio Ristorante has seen a few operator exchanges, and while this Italian staple has had it’s fair share of highs and lows it would be impossible to ignore their consistently good offerings and amicable service thanks to the diligent work of the Clayton family.
I rarely begin any of my articles describing the end of a meal, but in this case after sharing a humorous and wild evening with my editor, girlfriend, and Alexandria’s quirkiest publication founder I was hit with a rush of satisfaction I have not stop thinking about since. I guided my spoon through the rich chocolate mousse laid out in front of me, only yielding a small sliver, and actively searching for a glazed raspberry on my plate digesting all of the wonderful food and conversation that was had earlier in the evening. This moment of nirvana, which rarely happens, is when the hedonist in my head conquers the health-nut in another battle in my masochistic culinary consciousness. I had no choice but to indulge in my almost non-existent sweet tooth’s desires at the end of a fantastic night at Geranio Ristorante. Time almost stood still and suddenly the whole evening seemed to disappear into thing air – the mark of a wonderful meal.
When we first took our seats at 722 King St. I was discouraged to hear the waiter explain that there was no list available for pre-dinner cocktails. Between the dim lights, romantic Old World style upstairs bar and smartly dressed wait staff I figured there would be one enthusiastic mixologist on staff. The waiter, however, nodded positively when I asked if he had the bitter Campari to make a pre-dinner Negroni. It always saddens me whenever restaurants are both capable and eager of putting together unique and interesting offerings but fail to market them properly on the menu. After looking over their even-keeled Italian dinner menu, which includes a healthy helping of risottos and pastas I asked to see the wine list. It was very well balanced containing a large portion of domestic whites and Italian reds. I was most excited about the Chiantis and Tuscanas, which were fairly priced and confidently endorsed by our waiter.
I was first drawn to the potato and leak soup that was offered as a special on the evening’s menu. It was served with a dash of oil and still piping hot after our waiter offered fresh pepper. The star of the first course, however, went to my girlfriend’s choice of antipasto. It was perfectly assembled with homemade mozzarella, prosciutto, and a splendid marinara sauce that I could not get enough of. I honestly could have eaten more of this and called it a night, especially after our wine was poured and conversation intensified around the table.
The next crowd-sourced favorite we were served was the lobster risotto, which had an impressive presentation and pleasing portion size. I did not try the risotto, however, as I believe Christopher Hitchens quote about the four most overrated things in life has a bit of truth to it and went for the seared shrimp linguini. Served with garlic, chilies, tomatoes, and tarragon it was smothered in a creamy sauce that almost begged to be mopped up by the freshly baked bread the waiters earnestly brought to the center of our table throughout the duration of the meal. Each dish was not perfectly matched with our Tuscana, which was chosen by our group and not the staff, but was delicious in its own right. With hardly any space left I decided to sample the oven-roasted swordfish, which I would have gone excellently with an Arneis or Pinot Grigio. A generous portion of seasoned swordfish atop a polenta cake, paired with roasted peppers and fresh corn cream; characteristics of Northern Italian fare expressed in a fine American execution.
A night out with family, friends, or just a loved one at Geranio Ristorante is a very sufficient call for anyone looking to share a bottle of wine and robust plates. The staff is eager to please and the kitchen cooks in a timely fashion. I personally would love to see more specials and possibly a cocktail list but will be happy to return. Next time, however, I will remember to save some space for the chocolate mousse.
Written by: Vince Arrunategui