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Nibbles and Sips – March 2010

Jordan Wright

Is DC Becoming the New New York?

Greater Washington Fashion Council screening of Schmatta on the Hill with fashion designer, Nanette Lepore and Ohio Cong. Tim Ryan Legislative Assistant, Robert Bacon - photo by Jordan

Might as well start practicing your spaghetti twirling and channeling your inner Guido, with NY’s Casa Nonna scheduled to arrive in April to California Pizza Kitchen’s former Connecticut Avenue location and Carmine’s, another NY transplant, planning on a two-story 20,000 square foot location in Penn Quarter in mid-June.

The much-anticipated, over-the-top fabulous, Buddha Bar, with locations in New York, Paris, Tokyo, Beirut, Dubai and Kiev, is due to open this Spring in the Mount Vernon Triangle along with Philadelphia-based Cuba Libre, which promises over 75 different rums and a pre-Castro Cuban décor, slated to open in late May to early June. And now we have our own outpost of New York’s Greek restaurant Kellari (see my review). NY’s BBQ wunderkind, Mark Glosserman, is bringing us Texas style down-home flavors and live music with Hill Country with an opening scheduled for this summer.

Traditionally NYC-based industries like fashion, food and film now have a firm toe hold here. There’s the socially and politically active Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce, and entrepreneur Philip Dufour’s Politics on Film Festival in early May and the Environmental Film Festival that now calls DC home, earning DC its well-deserved moniker as “Capitol of The Documentary Film”. Is New York fading as a destination for these industries?

Hollywood Cupcake Confidential

Beverly Hills cupcake titan, Sprinkles, is coming to town this spring. Adored by Oprah, Tyra and Barbra this “cupcake boutique” will sweeten the pot by sharing M Street with our beloved Georgetown Cupcake. Oh the lines! Oh the hookups while waiting for those tiny sugary aphrodisiacs!

New York City’s Bond 45 Sails Into National Harbor

Bond 45 - photo by Jordan Wright

Blend NYC’s once-great Luchow’s, the century-old Peter Luger steakhouse, the historic Mama Leone’s, and the recently shuttered Gage and Tollner’s seafood emporium into one perfect authentic Italian steakhouse and seafood restaurant and what do you get? Bond 45, an instant classic, recently opening their second location at National Harbor. Their first venture is in the old Bond Building in New York City…thus the name.

While Executive Chef, Daniele Turchetti, hails from Fruili, Italy, the snappy-confident Italian waiters in a retro look of black ties and crisp white vests, serving guests with a flourish and a quick wit, are direct from NYC. A turn-of-the-century dark-paneled bar unfolds into smaller dining rooms with a mix of Old World Euro and 1940’s style décor. There are mosaic-tiled floors, nailhead-studded tobacco-hued leather banquettes, stamped tin cove ceilings and original oils selected by owner/creator, Shelly Fireman, on his tours of Italy.

I am still swooning for Bond 45’s crescendi of glorious vegetable antipasti and salumi, dry-aged or grass-fed beef, clams oreganata, luscious seafood risotto, house made burrata, pasta with slow-cooked beef ragu, and the traditional white linen napkins with stitched-in buttonholes…very old school. Don’t miss the chocolate mousse that transcends all previous renditions.

This unpretentious restaurant is homey and sophisticated all at once. For NY transplants and their foodie friends, this is the place for your next in-country Roman holiday. Look for their Nat Harbor summer opening of Fiorella, a casual pizzeria by the water.

Kitchen Quotes

Bibiana Chef Nicholas Stefanelli -in love - photo by Jordan Wright

Maryland native Nick Stefanelli, executive chef at Ashok Bajaj’s latest downtown restaurant creation, Bibiana Osteria and Enoteca, tells me his dishes reflect his amorous emotional state. “I am in love,” he declares. That’s amore in every bite!

Velvet Rope-a-Dope at the W Hotel

During a recent visit to the uber-modern W Hotel, to attend a reception I found a lobby with all three elevators roped off and seriously intentioned sleek-suited men with clipboards checking off names. Quite unlike any hotel I had ever experienced, the entire lobby was cordoned off with a series of velvet rope rows, airline terminal-style. It seems as though there were several other events that evening and they were screening incoming guests like high-class bouncers. We all dutifully stood in lines while the tiny elevators came and went. Not my cuppa. When I asked a staff member if it was always like this he barked, “Well, Madame, it is a hotel!” Oooohhhh, slap on the wrist! Guess I should have known better than to question an authority on hotel protocol.

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