Osteria Morini: Bucatini

Bucatini

Sea urchin is a foe to many people, probably because it has the consistency and flavor of fish Fro-yo. But, the sushi preparation of placing a patty of raw uni atop a mound of rice is not the only way to enjoy this briny, spiny creature. It Japan, it’s often used to give a savory boost to pasta sauce. And in the Italy? The same.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Bucatini with Crab, Sea Urchin and Basil at Osteria Morini is a divine combination of flavors and textures. Hollow bucatini is dotted with thick nuggets of crab and smooth slivers of sea urchin all in a sweet and spicy red sauce. For a glimpse at how much love (read: effort!) goes into pasta making at OM check out Eater’s piece on Matt Adler.

This rich dish usually rings in at $21. However, if you’re a ticket holder from a Washington Nationals game arriving after 9:00 p.m., it’s yours for a $12 steal.

Panini

Let’s say you’re visiting Osteria Morini for lunch looking out at the water. Maybe you took a mental health day or are just playing hooky down at the Navy Yard before a day game. Get a panini. It’s an under $20 way to experience OM and comes with super fancy potato chips and a crock of soup to use as a dipper.

Bucatini not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

You might also like Alba Osteria or The Red Hen.

Agua 301: Pork Belly al Pastor

Agua 301 Pork Belly Taco

If Hawaii and Mexico had a baby, a perfect baby, it would be this taco. The Best Thing on the Menu at Agua 301 is undoubtedly: Pork Belly al Pastor. Three succulent tacos filled with crispy fried pork belly, pineapple habanero salsa, al pastor aioli, salsa de arbol arrive at your table glistening with an entrancing glaze.

As if the world’s most perfect protein needed any help…Chef Antonio Burrell lightly breads and fries the belly, which has already been slow-cooked to optimal tenderness. The pineapple habanero salsa is what transports you directly to a Hawaiian luau, where the pig of the party is cooked underground to an equal level of deliciousness. Hopefully by men in ridiculous outfits.

Berry Mezcal Cocktail

If picking the right margarita has always been a problem for you, we’re here to help. The Humo en el Agua (translation Smoke on the Water) is the right choice. This pomegranate margarita made with Fidencio Classico, Pama Liqueur, pomegranate juice, and fresh squeezed lime juice. Fidencio Classico is key because it’s mezcal, and thus delivers smoke. Typically mezcal is paired with citrus fruits, but here’s hoping that the smoke and berry combination is a new trend. Mezcal is one of my favorite things right now, with its notes of beef jerky and peat. Fair warning though, mezcal is a gateway drug to scotch because once you go smoky, toasty, roasty  – you never go back.

Apple Pie Empanadas

Finish the evening at Agua 301 with Chef Burrell’s apple empanadas. They’re stuffed with his mother’s good old-fashioned apple pie recipe. You’ll undoubtedly be choosing between these and the churros. Choose these.

All and all the tacos and the guacamoles (with bacon!) steal the show at this new spot in the Navy Yard. They outshine the entrees and will be perfect before or after a Nats game come spring. Click here for more photos.

Pork Belly al Pastor not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.

The Arsenal: Sweet Potato Gnocchi

The Arsenal

We’re not as dense as a shiksa’s matzo balls. We know you schleped to Bluejacket for the house-brewed beer – all 25 of them. But stick with us for a minute because the Neighborhood Restaurant Group dining destination located inside the brewery – The Arsenal – has a lot to offer. Head over to the Navy Yard early, grab some brews and snacks in the bar area before sitting down for your reservation in the adjoining restaurant that focuses on pairing food with beer.

The Best Thing on the Menu: Sweet potato gnocchi, duck meatball, tallegio fonduta and greens is perfect for winter. And, lets face it with one and half underwhelming snow days under our belt, winter is here. It’s rich, comforting and super salty, which normally would irk me but it goes so well with beer.

Other top picks, the humble rotisserie half chicken thanks to its pretzel stuffing; the eighteen hour short rib because of the melt-in-you-mouth parmesan spaetzle; and the merguez burger because lamb’s got game. Rumor has it they recently added gluten-free burgers.

The Arsenal Restaurant

Let me be the 443rd person to tell you that Bluejacket and The Arsenal are housed inside an expansive factory where workers once built boilers for ships. It’s an impressive space. Check it out if you haven’t yet and wash down The Best Thing on the Menu with The Butcher: A dunkles dopplebock inspired by Red Apron’s half smoke. It features a dark and strong lager that is brewed with Red Apron-smoked malt and half-smoke spice mix. Gotta love drinks that taste like food. …

Sweet potato gnocchi not your BTM? Post your favorites in the comments section.