Summer Restaurant Week is Coming in Hot – District Fray

Starting August 15th, Restaurant Week returns with classics and new restaurants alike, each participating and showcasing fun summer flavors. Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) President & CEO Kathy Hollinger says that “diners can look forward to creative menus and great price points.” She also suggests Restaurant Week-To-Go dinners for two or four people to create the perfect summer picnic. You can start planning now, as menus are up on the RAMW website. 

We spoke with a few representatives from participating restaurants on their experience with Restaurant Week and why their restaurant’s neighborhood is worth the trip. 

Lina Nicolai, Executive Chef for Il Piatto

District Fray: You’re new to Restaurant Week! How does it feel to join?
Nicolai: Il Piatto opened in June 2022, which makes Summer Restaurant Week our first one. However, at my previous restaurant, Al Crostino, we participated for 5 years, so I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to do it again. It feels exciting to welcome new faces and embrace old faces this Restaurant Week. As a relatively new restaurant, it also gives people the opportunity to try a variety of dishes from our menu.

What do you like about the experience? And what’s challenging?
Restaurant Week challenges our ability to anticipate volume and continue being consistent. As a new restaurant with labor shortages, we are faced with ensuring we offer a consistent experience for guests. In the same token, Restaurant Week invites new people in and reaches a broader audience. We hope to bring guests back downtown during the week even with hybrid work structures, which makes us excited to showcase our talents in Italian cuisine. 

What do you love about your restaurant’s location, and why should people go out of their way to visit your specific neighborhood?
Being in the heart of DC allows us to have an ever-changing and diverse audience. When you dine at Il Piatto, you see families touring the city for the first time or businesswomen negotiating deals or locals grabbing happy hour at the bar after work or college students enjoying pasta between summer classes. Our neighborhood truly allows you to see all the facets of our city.

Il Piatto: 900 16th St. NW, DC; // @ilpiattodc

Eggplant Parmesan Ray Lopez

Priyank Vira, General Manager for Celebration by Rupa Vira

District Fray: What do you like about the Restaurant Week experience? And what’s challenging?
Vira: We have been doing Restaurant Week since the Summer of 2020. Our restaurant opened in January 2020 and Restaurant Week was very helpful to introduce new customers to our restaurant to dine-in in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our restaurant’s dine-in experience shines and this helped bring guests who were looking for a one-of-a-kind dining experience in the midst of COVID craziness. 

Restaurant Week has challenged us to think creatively and bring the best of Indian Cuisine to our guests. Chef Rupa and her team work hard to prepare unique dishes that look just as delicious as they taste. 

What do you love about your restaurant’s location, and why should people go out of their way to visit your specific neighborhood?
Celebration by Rupa Vira is located in Loudoun County, the heart of Virginia’s wine country and many distilleries and breweries. A visit to Loudoun can be a fun day trip with a visit to the mountains, enjoying local wine and ending the day with delicious Indian Food. Celebration by Rupa Vira features local wines, beers and premium spirits from Loudoun county. The restaurant also features dishes that cannot be found in most Indian restaurants around the area such as Galouti Kebab, a mouth-melting lamb kebab; Lotus Root Stem Chaat, a cold appetizer made from crispy Lotus root stem; and Kashmir Ki Kahaani, a ginger-based Goat Curry that borrows the flavors from valleys of Kashmir, among others. Chef Rupa and Chef Khan have also created amazing desserts, like the Celebration Special, a foamy Makhan Malai that tastes like buttery air; Rasbhari Ka Ghosla that brings the desserts of eastern and western Indian together to look like a birds nest; and traditional Ghevar servers with a modern twist of Makhan Malai, Rabri, dry fruits and fresh berries. 

Celebration by Rupa Vira: 44260 Ice Rink Plaza Unit 120, Ashburn, VA; // @celebrationva

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John Brown, Executive Chef for City Winery

District Fray: How many years have you done Restaurant Week?
Chef Brown: We have participated in Restaurant Week since opening in 2018. The RAMW is so supportive of the DMV Hospitality community and we are glad to be able to participate again to see all the things impacted by Covid-19 come back to life.

What do you like about the experience? And what’s challenging?
Restaurant Week allows us and all participating restaurants the ability to showcase their menus and feature their Chefs to new guests that may not have visited. The challenging piece is selecting the menu to be able to provide a taste of what we do on a daily basis.

What do you love about your restaurant’s location, and why should people go out of their way to visit your specific neighborhood?
We are located in Ivy City, which is the heart of Ward 5. City Winery’s location was once home to the largest club in DC, which holds some history for many DC residents. Our building features a mural by DC muralist Aniekan Udolfo and pays homage to us being an Urban Winery, whereas inside you will find that many of our team members are born and bred in D.C. working to pay homage to the great neighborhood where we are located.

City Winery: 1350 Okie St. NE, DC; // @citywinerydc

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Chef Danny Lledó for Slate Wine Bar 

DF: How many years has Slate Wine Bar done Restaurant Week?
Chef Lledó: We’ve been doing Restaurant Week since very early on. It’s always a great opportunity to showcase what we do here and get people from different parts of the city to come to Glover Park and see what the neighborhood has to offer.

What do you like about the experience? And what’s challenging?
What was really great about the last Restaurant Week in particular was the mix of guests we got — regulars we hadn’t seen in a while due to the pandemic and new faces we’d never met before. People are always moving around in D.C., so it’s important to give new neighbors a chance to experience what you offer. What’s challenging about it is just that it’s a limited-time event, and something like that often sells out in advance. We actually extend our Restaurant Week promotion another week for exactly that reason! This year, we’ll also do the promotion from August 16th – 27th. We just recommend that people who know they specifically want to try that offering make their reservations early.

What do you love about your restaurant’s location, and why should people go out of their way to visit your specific neighborhood?
Glover Park is a bit of a hidden gem in the city. It’s just one mile north of the whirlwind on M Street in Georgetown, but it feels completely different. As you climb the hill up Wisconsin Avenue, things slow down, streets open up, and everything gets a little more peaceful. There are beautiful tree-lined residential areas just behind us, and parking is much easier than other places in the city. There are lots of interesting landmarks in Glover Park as well; we have several Embassies nearby, and the National Cathedral is less than a mile away.

Slate Wine Bar: 2404 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; // @slatewinebar

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