February 22, 2013 | by Jonathan Howard
Wide ‘Range’ of options
Range, gay news, Washington Blade, dining

Range (Photo by Ken Goodman Photography)

Diners are flocking to the Chevy Chase Pavilion to try one of the hottest new restaurants in the District, brought to you by Bryan Voltaggio of “Top Chef” and Volt fame. Range (5335 Wisconsin Ave NW) is Voltaggio’s first restaurant in Washington and a reservation is not always easy to get. Luckily, I called for a reservation a few weeks in advance and was able to gather a couple great friends who were prepared for a feast.

Range is not your typical D.C. small plate restaurant — it has “shared plates” but with a slightly different approach.

“The area needed something original,” Voltaggio said. “Range is about bringing together all my experiences to create a new dining experience.”

Range has multiple kitchens; there’s the wood oven, the salumeria, the raw bar, the bakery and more. This presents a bit of a challenge for service, but our waiter handles that with a quick but insightful explanation. We took our waiter’s advice as we agonized over which of the numerous options to choose.

A cheese plate is my favorite way to start a meal and Range’s had six divine cheeses that were smooth and full-bodied. We accompanied these with a memorable baker’s basket that featured cheddar jalapeno biscuits that were scrumptious. We also devoured a skillet full of warm cornbread with bacon marmalade. The breadbasket and cheeses were enough to satiate any appetite but we continued.

There’s a heightened level of skill evident in every morsel that was brought to the table. There was a sweet, delicate and unadulterated flavor to the bay scallops. The goat cheese seamless ravioli with a braised meat ragu was perfection on a plate with the tanginess of the goat cheese erupting from within the pasta.

The lobster mac-and-cheese was a rich and enjoyable dish. The pizza was a mouth-watering melding of two meals with meatloaf and potatoes on a cheesy pizza crust. The striped bass tasted so fresh, I found myself looking around for a fish tank full of these fish.

Our waiter selected the beef hanging tender for us, and this was one of the best-received items of the evening. This perfectly seasoned cut of meat melted in your mouth. Each item, including the rotisserie potatoes with bacon, showed off the superior craftsmanship Voltaggio spoke of with intricate flavors and extraordinary ingredients.

“At the end of the day it’s about showcasing the ingredients around me from the Mid-Atlantic… technique never takes precedence over the ingredient,” Voltaggio says.

Dessert is just as important as the savory menu at Range. The menu features luscious and tempting options and I chose to have the Cherry Glenn Farm goat cheesecake with kumquat and blood orange jams. There is also a full chocolate and candy station. Even though I had already ordered cheesecake I couldn’t resist tasting a few of the truffles like the salted caramel and the Mexican chocolate truffle, that the cart attendant described as “a party in your mouth,” and I couldn’t agree more.

Voltaggio lives up to the lofty expectations with Range. While the reservation may be difficult to get, I recommend getting a group of friends together and jumping on OpenTable and grabbing the first reservation available. Order plenty of items when you do get to the restaurant and try to experience all that the multiple kitchens have to offer.

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