DCReview

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

Interior of restaurant with ombre balloon banner across ceiling, mirrored ceiling, neon lights, and leather booths.
7.3

Pineapple & Pearls

American

Barracks Row

$$$$Perfect For:Special OccasionsUnique Dining ExperienceSee And Be Seen
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What’s supposed to set Pineapple & Pearls apart from its sister restaurants like Rose’s Luxury and other fine dining restaurants in the city, is that it’s a party. This should be a dinner that calls for sparkles, fancy shoes, and a babysitter. Unfortunately, just like your ex who was so great until they weren’t, Pineapple & Pearls sets high expectations it doesn’t always meet. 

Some nights, you get Times Square New Year’s Eve levels of excitement. The playlist is bumping everything from “This Is How We Do It” to “As.” The chefs are dancing and singing along as they tweeze tiny edible flowers onto pristine china. Your fellow diners are laughing under the glow of this month’s gradient balloons. Everything is bumping.

dining room with mirrored ceiling and tables, leather booths, and lightning bolt sculptures on wall

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

bar area with warm lighting, painted walls, globe lights, and shelves of liquor

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

entrance to restaurant where balloon ceiling and open kitchen are visible

photo credit: Nina Palazzolo

dining room with mirrored ceiling and tables, leather booths, and lightning bolt sculptures on wall
bar area with warm lighting, painted walls, globe lights, and shelves of liquor
entrance to restaurant where balloon ceiling and open kitchen are visible

But then there are the nights that feel more like that middle school birthday party only your best friend showed up to. The curator of the playlist skips the universal bangers and settles for their personal 2000s favorites. The wait staff looks as excited to be explaining the funky cheese course as you look when the mechanic explains all the work your car suddenly needs. 

While your resilient inner child might’ve bounced back from such a bust of a party, your financially responsible (or hoping to be) adult self might be a little miffed to have dropped $500 per person on a dud.

Luckily, the food won’t disappoint, even if the party does. Marco’s gnocchi is a pillowy pasta in a rich butter sauce that might make you consider dropping five bills multiple times a month to taste it again and again. The menu rotates seasonally, but if this is on it, it’s the best thing you’ll eat all night.

But we know this restaurant group knows how to make good food, so that’s not enough to make Pineapple & Pearls a winner. To do that, they need Kid 'n Play levels of party success. And they don’t consistently deliver on that.

Food Rundown

The menu at Pineapple & Pearls rotates frequently, but here’s an example of what you can expect.

tiny dumpling with gold leaf on a mirrored pedestal

photo credit: Scott Suchman

Beggar’s Purse

This is the most fun dish at the restaurant. These literal bags of caviar topped with 24-carat gold flakes are salty with a little sweetness from the pressed beet canvas they’re wrapped in.

gnocchi on a small plate with intricate designs that is set on a stack of larger plates with intricate designs

photo credit: Birch Thomas

Marco’s Gnocchi

These butter-drenched pillows are the one thing we hope never comes off the menu because they’re happiness in pasta form. It might seem over the top to tilt the bowl to your mouth to make sure you didn’t miss a drop, but it’s not.

tiny cake on a stump with greenery surrounding it, being picked up by tiny gold tongs

photo credit: Birch Thomas

Even If You Don’t Like Lamb

This plate of lamb, bing cherries, and black forest cake is not what you’ll be looking at when this arrives at the table. Because it comes with a second plate that’s an actual mini black forest (that is purely for presentation purposes). This dish is as fun to look at as it is delicious to eat.

large plate with two morsels of food in the middle, and a cup to the side with cornbread takoyaki

photo credit: Birch Thomas

World Class Wagyu

Wagyu is a staple on a lot of fine dining menus, but this dish brings together flavors from around the world onto a plate you’ll be scraping long after the last bites are gone. The tiny piece of buttery meat is served alongside crispy collard greens and fluffy cornbread takoyaki.

knife slicing into a whole pineapple

photo credit: Scott Suchman

LA Mezcal Pineapple

What’s the point of coming to a restaurant named Pineapple & Pearls and not having pineapple? You won’t get it until dessert, but the juicy roasted pineapple atop pink Dippin’ Dots-esque bites of mango, chamoy, and pineapple are worth the wait. Our only complaint is that we want more of the roasted stuff.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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