Italian Stallion

Enzo Fargione is back with Elisir

With a poof of smoke, chef Enzo Fargione is back at the stove.

Nearly two years after departing Teatro Goldoni, the Italian chef is once again teasing diners' senses with his precise, often imaginative dishes. His restaurant, Elisir, offers two tasting options, but we've assembled a three-course guide to à la carte dishes. So hit the highlights without a three-hour commitment.

Starter: Let the aforementioned plumes begin your meal. Fargione captures the aroma and smoke of apple wood with glistening branzino carpaccio in a cigar box, which is theatrically unveiled table-side. Marinated in blood orange juice with scallions and citrus segments, the fish ($17) is a tart flash after the campfire-style smoke.

Pasta: Thick sheets of squid-ink pasta–looking like runaway lasagna layers–tangle with equally al dente saffron noodles ($29). Packed with sweet chunks of lobster, roasted tomatoes and basil, the dish is a simple but stellar reprieve.

Main: Fargione treats duck like most chefs handle prosciutto. He cures the breast ($36) for 48 hours in salt, cumin, coriander and garlic, which both season and cook the meat. The chef then sears slices to order, serving them with roasted artichoke hearts, olive sauce, spinach-whipped potatoes and caramelized quince ragout.

Elisir Restaurant, 427 11th St. NW (between Pennsylvania Ave. & E St.); 202-546-0088 or elisirrestaurant.com