This story originally appeared on DC Refined.
One of the most interesting dishes at Bresca is a buttery, fragrant plate of linguine topped with rich, briny sea urchin tongues. It has become one of the most popular orders at the innovative 14th street restaurant.
It fits right in with Executive Chef Ryan Ratino’s philosophy of imaginative and modern bistro food. Surprisingly, though, the inspiration behind the hit dish doesn’t have anything do with the spiny ocean creatures. It started, of all places, with a loaf of bread. Ratino and his chef de cuisine, Jose Arguelles, tore into a loaf of fresh bread and were smacked by the robust taste and aroma. That set off a spark.
“This flavor would be awesome not just in a loaf of bread, but in food,” Ratino says, recalling days spent taste testing bread with his staff.
After some trial and error in the kitchen, Ratino arrived on a pasta and sauce recipe that delivered on the sensation he was seeking. He never expected it would get such a positive reaction. Some Bresca guests are ordering two or three orders over the course of dinner, he says.
“It’s been absolutely crazy how that thing has taken off,” he says. “We were focused on making a really nice pasta. We really didn’t start with urchin—we ended with sea urchin.”
Travis moved to D.C. in 2007 has written about the city's diverse food scene for a number of outlets over the years, including Eater DC, Washington City Paper, Washingtonian and DCist, where he was formerly the food editor.