Fabio Trabocchi is preparing to open a new concept, Casa Luca, offering a more casual theme in décor and menu than Fiola. There will be red, white and sparkling wines on tap at the bar. Casa Luca replaces the Againn space at 1099 New York Ave. NW. Fabio is also scheduled to open Fiola Mare on the Georgetown waterfront at Washington Harbour.
Dublin, Ireland-based Ri Ra will add a new location and a new concept to its growing metropolitan DC base of operations. When it takes over the Mie N Yu space on M Street in Georgetown, it will bring not only its Irish energy, but an Irish chef who is developing a full service upscale menu, punctuating Ri Ra’s latest evolution into the restaurant scene. It will also feature a state-of-the-art whiskey bar featuring 150 different whiskeys, supplemented by an authoritative whiskey program.
Chef Update: Chef Greg McCarty will head the kitchen at Ashok Bajaj’s newest venture, NOPA Kitchen & Bar where Zola was on F Street in Penn Quarter. McCarty’s credentials include Jean-Georges and Nobu Fifty Seven in NYC. La Tasca Spanish Tapas Bar & Restaurant has announced the appointment of Josu Zubikarai as their new executive chef, overseeing culinary operations for all five of the company’s restaurants: Washington, Arlington and Alexandria, Rockville, Md. and Baltimore. Zubikarai was the opening chef for Taberna del Alabardero in Washington, DC in 1989.
More: Ashley Soto has been named executive pastry chef at the new Farmers Fishers Bakers. She used to work for Black Restaurant Group’s Pearl Dive Oyster Bar. She manages pastries offered at the new FirstBake bakery and coffee shop within the restaurant. Carrie Jenkins, who briefly managed the pastry program at Farmers Fishers Bakers, has been promoted to executive pastry chef for Founding Farmers in DC.
Karl Graham, of the defunct New York Avenue Beach Bar, is in partnership with Hogo and The Passenger owner Tom Brown (Derek’s brother) to open The Elroy, named for the young son in The Jetsons cartoon from yesteryear. So think “futuristic.” It will be in the ever-burgeoning H Street corridor, as 1423 H St NE. Karl is a general contractor, so that should be a big advantage. A June opening is planned.
Aaron Tootill is the executive chef at The Bench restaurant opening at the Gaithersburg Marriott Washington Center in the Rio Washingtonian Center, this spring. The restaurant will be contemporary American. Tootill was opening chef for Fire & Sage at Marriott Metro Center in downtown DC. A spring opening is planned.
Capitol Prague Restaurant will open where Morso was at M and Prospect Streets in Georgetown. It will also operate a coffee shop nearby. The cuisine is Czech and Slovak: think schnitzel and dumplings. It will offer Czech Republic beers hard to find anywhere else. An April opening is planned.
C-C-Changes: Going casual is becoming more and more popular especially with that ubiquitous “sequester” word terrorizing us in DC. Enzo Fargione’s fine dining restaurant, Elisir, on 11th St in Penn Quarter, is now the more casual Osteria Elisir, with décor and menu to match. And in Georgetown, Ruth Gresser’s Pizzeria Paradiso has re-opened its lower level Birreria Paradiso after renovation to make the space more open, with communal tables for better socializing. Partners José Andrés and Rob Wilder, will expand the bar area at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana. Hapstak and Demetriou has designed the new bar, which will increase the restaurant by 900 square feet and add 42 more seats. Completion is slated for early May.
Quick Hits: Scion, an Asian restaurant in Dupont Circle plans to open a second location in Silver Spring at 1200 East West Hwy featuring American as well as Asian dishes. McLean’s Courthouse: Sweet Leaf Cafe plans to open a bit closer to town at 2200 Wilson Blvd where Hikaru sushi restaurant used to be. Southern California-based BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse plans a Tysons Corner opening this fall on Leesburg Pike. Sol Mexican Grill, a food truck, also plans to open a brick-n-mortar restaurant on H Street NE. Popular idea, as Chupacabra, also a food truck; plans to go brick-n-mortar on H Street NE. Dunya plans to open at 801 Florida Ave, NW serving Mediterranean food and tapas. Timothy Dean plans to open TD Burger in the Loree Grand building in NoMa at 3rd and K Streets, NE where Zuppa Fresca was. Compass Rose, plans to serve global foods at its Logan Circle restaurant at 1346 T St., NW. Owners Rose Previte and NPR’s David Greene plan to have it open by summer. Aaron Gordon and Chef Rock Harper (of Top Chef and DC Central Kitchen fame) plan to open Fat Shorty’s in Clarendon where Rabbit used to be. Expect sausage, and German & Belgian beers. Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant has opened its second Washington, D.C. location just in time for the opening baseball game, right around the corner from Nationals Park at 100 M St., SE. Reza Akhavan, former general manager of Shaw’s Tavern, is taking over what was Fun Fair Video at 919 5th St., NW to open a Mediterranean-themed organic restaurant.
Mixologist extraordinaire Derek Brown plans to open Mockingbird Hill on 7th St. NW in Shaw, with a Spanish influence that includes Iberico and Serrano hams. On the beverage front: a bar featuring Sherry. A May opening is planned. In addition to Mockingbird Hill, Derek Brown is teaming up with Rappahannock’s Travis Croxton to open Eat the Rich, highlighting seafood – complemented by an oyster bar.
Philadelphia-based La Colombe Torrefaction (translates to “roasting”) plans to open a coffee shop in DC’s Shaw neighborhood, in Blagden Alley next to Rogue 24. This will be their seventh cafe in the U.S., in addition to their thriving wholesale business, according to co-founders Todd Carmichael and Jean Philippe (JP) Iberti, Le Colombe coffee will be served at Philly-native, Stephen Starr’s, Le Diplomate in Logan Circle.