The DC Restaurant Buzz is back, and as always, we’re locked and loaded with a jam-packed round-up of the latest dining news in and around the District. From new openings, to upcoming special events, industry personnel news and more, we have got it covered right here.

New Openings

SpinFire Pizza Heads to Arlington

spinfire pizza arlington vaWashington Redskins’ wide receiver Pierre Garçon has opened the doors to his second SpinFire Pizza location in Arlington, VA. Garçon and his partner, Paisano’s Pizza founder Fouad Qreitem, launched the new space in the heart of Rosslyn at 1501 Wilson Blvd.

SpinFire specializes in made-to-order individual pizzas, gourmet salads and hearty calzones, all freshly served in 90 seconds.

Choose from over 30 fresh toppings, hand-cut in-house daily, along with classic combinations, like the Prosciutto Arugula Pizza (arugula, prosciutto, olive oil, fresh mozzarella, ricotta and citrus vinaigrette) or the Hawaiian Pizza (shredded mozzarella, pineapple, smoked ham and scallions).

You’ll also be able to indulge in homemade gelato and sip local brews from Port City Brewing Company.

Pizza Studio Opens in Dupont Circle

SpinFire Pizza isn’t the only new pizza joint around town. Welcome Pizza Studio, officially opening Thursday, April 23 in Dupont Circle at 1333 New Hampshire Ave NW, where you can “Create Your Masterpiece”. To celebrate DC’s first location, co-founders Samit Varma and Ron Biskin will be giving away free pizza to customers from 11-2pm and 5-8pm on April 23.

On April 23, customers can design an 11-inch pizza of their choice for free. Pizza Studio offers unique artisanal crusts, specialty sauces, freshly grated, shaved and crumbled cheeses, an array of seasonings, and over 35 high quality ingredients.

In addition, each guest that signs up for Pizza Studio’s loyalty program on April 23 will be eligible to win 1 of 100 giveaway prizes. Selected at random, 5 guests will win free pizza every week for a year (52 total). Other prizes include $100, $50 and $25 gift cards and a free pizza on a return visit.

For every pizza made on April 23, Pizza Studio will also donate $2 to the Capital Area Food Bank, an organization dedicated to feeding those who suffer from hunger in the region, and that educates, empowers and enlightens the community about the issues of hunger and nutrition.

Online ordering will be available for those on-the-go by visiting The restaurant’s signature “starving artists’ wall” will feature works of art created by locals from Washington Project for the Arts, all of which are consigned from the artists and available for purchase.

The Royal Comes to Ledroit Park

The Royal, from the owner of Vinoteca, is set for a late spring debut. Named for the building’s previous life as Royal Liquor Store, the new spot will be a classic corner neighborhood joint located in the heart of DC’s historic LeDroit Park neighborhood at 501 Florida Avenue, NW.

A coffee shop and lunch spot by day, and an intimate bar and casual eatery by night, The Royal will be a unique all-day destination for morning coffee, leisurely lunch, after-work cocktails and simple yet creative fare. In the morning, The Royal will boast a full espresso program, brewing up Counter Culture coffee for those on-the-go or looking to spend a leisurely morning, along with breakfast offerings and fresh juices.

Come afternoon, The Royal will offer an all-day menu from owner Paul Carlson and Chef Lonnie Zoeller with elevated bar snacks to complement the craft cocktail program. Inspired by both Carlson and Zoeller’s familial ties to Colombia, fresh meats, seafood and vegetables will be prepared on the wood-fire grill and accompanied by an assortment of house sauces.

The Royal’s beverage program will focus on craft cocktails, from beverage director Horus Alvarez, with a focus on simplicity – fresh ingredients, fruits, herbs – used in an array of both classic and signature cocktails. The bar will boast an extensive vermouth selection, featuring a housemade vermouth on draft. Carlson sourced a vintage ice shaver from Guatemala, which will churn the base for creative shaved ice cocktails, available year-round.

Urban Heights Set to Debut in Bethesda

Urban Heights Cliff WhartonThis Thursday, April 23, Urban Heights is set to debut in Bethesda in the former Roof spot. Find an area first, with a focus on high-end Philippine cuisine. The restaurant is helmed by executive chef Cliff Wharton, previously from TenPenh, and will offer a range of southeast Asian concepts, ingredients and techniques.

Wharton draws on his own Filipino heritage, his finely tuned instinct for the flavors of other Asian cultures, and his delight in mixing it up for the sake of a great bite.

Find a Tuna Bar, offering the highest quality tuna resting on a bed of ice, awaiting orders for dedicated delicacies from ahi poke to tuna tartare. Intriguing spins range from the Chicken Adobo Sliders to the Xo Honey Glazed Shrimp with Wasabi Grits to the Pork Belly Bites with Gochujang sauce. A Korean Bulgogi-style Steak Salad with Chili-Lime Dressing presents a flavorful riff on a hearty favorite, and at dinner, Wharton will be reprising his signature Red Curry Shrimp with Pineapple and Jasmine Rice.

Urban Heights will plan on capitalizing on its space, with outdoor tables for dining on the second floor and the expansive third floor top deck, perfect for all night lounging with “Island Cocktails” – handcrafted concoctions with aromatic essence and elegant presentations.

Special Events

Inaugural K Street Farm Dinner Held on June 2nd

DC Greens will host its first ever “K Street Farm Dinner” at its urban oasis on the corner of K Street and New Jersey Avenue, NW. The event, held on June 2, 2015, will feature some of the area’s top chefs preparing dinner on the K Street Farm, a parcel of city land that’s managed by DC Greens, featuring locally grown produce.

Participating chefs, include Ruben Garcia of MiniBar, Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery and Béarnaise, Mike Friedman of The Red Hen, Jeremiah Langhorne of the forthcoming The Dabney, Bryan Voltaggio of Aggio, Family Meal, Lunchbox, Range, and Volt, Mike Isabella of Mike Isabella Concepts and Tiffany MacIsaac of Buttercream Bakeshop.

Visiting guests include Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, who also sits on the Board of Advisors for DC Greens.

The event will honor local food and wine, while raising awareness for food education, food access, and food policy in the nation’s capital. Chefs will partner up to prepare a multi-course, family-style dinner for all guests.

The K Street Farm Dinner will be held on Tuesday, June 2, with a VIP welcome at 5:30pm, cocktail reception at 6:30pm and dinner at 7:15pm. VIP tickets cost $600, with general admission tickets costing $250. More information and tickets here.

2nd Launch Pad Challenge

Mess Hall, in collaboration with Union Market and restaurateur Ris Lacoste, has launched the 2nd incarnation of Launch Pad – a business plan competition to identify and launch a promising new culinary concept at DC’s Union Market.

On June 10, 5 finalists will be selected to pitch their innovative culinary project to a panel of judges, including Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington, Aaron Silverman of Rose’s Luxury and Drew Nieporent of Myriad Restaurant Group. Contestants will also have access to a star-studded board of advisors – from Spike Mendelsohn to the Hilton Brothers – offering consultations and strategies throughout the competition.

Aspiring entrepreneurs can register online here through May 11. This year’s winner will be announced on July 12 at Dock 5, joining 2014 Launch Pad champ Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., and taking over a space inside Union Market for 6-12 months.

Daikaya to Host Ramen 101 Classes

Daikaya cold ramenReady to learn how to make ramen at home? Then visit Daikaya on Saturday, May 16th and 23rd for Sapporo Ramen 101 classes, held in the 1st floor ramen shop.

Starting at 10 AM, guests will learn the rich history of ramen, with a focus on Sapporo-style ramen, and how ramen serves as an important identity for Sapporo’s citizens. Partners Executive Chef Katsuya Fukushima and Daisuke Utagawa will lead a hands-on demonstration on how to properly prepare the noodles, as well as the distinctive Sapporo ramen broth.

After the one hour class, order the ramen of their choice from Daikaya’s menu, as the restaurant opens for business. Each class is limited to 10 people for a very hands-on, intimate experience, and the class is priced at $35 per person.

Reserve your tickets in advance by calling 202-589-1600.

Fiola Wine Dinner with Peay Vineyards

Fiola is hosting a special wine dinner on Thursday, April 23, with Peay Vineyards, a family-owned, 54-acre vineyard on Sonoma’s northern coast. Peay Vineyards is one of the more exclusive wines in distribution today, as only a few thousand cases of its estate wine produced each year.

Expect a five-course tasting menu priced at $150 per person. The menu will be designed to accentuate the coastal qualities of Peay’s wines, with each course paired with one of the vineyard’s top selections. Diners will enjoy dishes such as Crudo of Tairagai Clams and Hay-Roasted Spring Lamb, among others from Executive Chef Stefano Frigerio.

Find more information and the full menu at Fiola’s website.

Margarita Wars

Margarita Wars DCWashington City Paper is hosting Margarita Wars on Thursday, May 21 at 6:30 at The Yards in Washington, D.C. More than 15 different mixologists will be on hand doing their part to turn out the very best in margaritas – and you get to vote on the winner.

Tickets cost $25 and include all the margarita tastings you can handle. Restaurants and food trucks will be on hand with food to purchase.

Full details and tickets here.

Looking for Ramps?

The whole world has apparently gone bonkers for ramps. So where can you find some dishes in and around the city showcasing the season’s offerings? Here are a few spots to check out.

  • BLT Steak: Chef Will Artley is offering a Spring Rabbit Blackboard dish, with confit rabbit legs with bone stock and an aromatic Middle Eastern mole, serving alongside roasted artichoke puree, house made potato gnocchi tossed with garlic, ramp leaves & red chili flakes, plus fresh favas, peas and pickled ramps ($22). You can also find a ramp-infused cocktail called the Rampsterdam, with barrel-aged Damrack Amsterdam Gin, stirred with ramp brine and Dolin Blanc, garnished with a pickled ramp ($15).
  • Vinoteca: Try Chef Lonnie Zoeller’s Grilled Pork Loin with wilted ramps and Gilfeather turnips, featuring marinated, grilled pork loin, ramps wilted in butter, roasted sweet turnips and pork jus ($25).
  • Jack Rose: Visit Jack Rose for Chef Russell Jones’ Spring Onion Soup with ramps, creme fraiche and smoked trout roe ($8) and a side of sauteed ramps with bottarga and parmesan ($8).
  • Cashion’s Eat Place:Chef John Manolatos is serving up ramps sautéed with a Sunnyside Goose Egg appetizer served with spring cress, parmesan cheese and gremolata bread crumbs ($14).
  • Trummer’s On Main: Chef Austin Fausett is using ramps in his seasonal Roasted Spring Garlic & Potato Pierogies dish ($24), with house-made Polish dumplings topped with crisp  ramps, shiitake mushrooms, snow peas, pickled red cabbage, fiddlehead ferns & chive sour cream.
  • Sonoma: Try Chef Joshua Hutter’s Pan-Seared Halibut with ramp salsa verde, grilled fiddlehead ferns & sautéed wax beans, or Chef James Marroquin’s Pan-Roasted Halibut with ramp cream, fingerling potatoes & pea shoots (both $28). Ramps are also available simply grilled as a side dish for $9.
  • Le Diplomate: Chef Michael Abt is putting a springtime spin on the menu mainstay Veal Escalope, with thinly pounded veal top-round, battered nd lightly sautéed, served with sautéed morels, charred ramps & a rich mushroom cream sauce ($29).
  • Fainting Goat:Chef Nathan Beauchamp is serving a special of Grilled Ramps with a soft-poached egg, avocado and house-cured duck prosciutto, seasoned with sea salt and olive oil ($15).

More Spring Menu Updates, New Offers, Personnel News

Vinoteca is Unleashing for Spring

Spring has definitely sprung at Vinoteca. The restaurant has opened its front patio and backyard bar for those looking to enjoy the beautiful spring weather. There’s also a new spring grill menu, special cocktails for the season, and more news.

Chef Lonnie Zoeller is bringing back his creatively-topped house-made hot dogs, such as the Miss Universe, a Colombian-style dog topped with grilled pineapple, salsa rosada, fresh cheese, crumbled potato chips, the Duck Dog, a duck sausage topped with spicy red cabbage slaw, pickled carrot and Korean chili mayo, or the Frank-en-Shteen topped with homemade sauerkraut and caraway mustard.

Other dishes get a taste of the grill, like the Bocce Burger; the Grilled Squid Roll with ink mayo; and the Chicken & Avocado Sandwich with buttermilk dressing and Bibb lettuce is a refreshing bite during a round of bocce.

Visit on Thursday nights from 5 to close for Adults Kids Meal specials, pairing a hot dog with a glass of wine, or a burger with a beer, all with a side of house made chips, and a kids “toy” – a pair of Vinoteca wayfarer-style sunglasses, for $11.

Bar manager Horus Alvarez has created a new spring cocktail menu to enjoy on the Plaza. Try the amaro-based Amari Spritzer, the Plaza’s #3 which fuses fresh fruit flavors and mint with Velho Barreiro Cachaça and Cocchi Rosa; the Sparkling Rickey uses Fords Gin, sparkling wine, lemongrass syrup and fresh lime juice; the House of Rye with Old Overholt Rye, Contratto Bianco Vermouth, fresh sour mix and grapefruit bitters; and two different house sangrias.

Also expect special Vermouth/Aperitif and Bitters/Amari menus, with a variety of aperitifs, including Vinoteca’s house-made and barreled vermouth, and amari by the glass, which are available neat, or served over ice with soda.

Last but not least, Vinoteca is the only bar in DC with its own outdoor bocce court. Its open from Wednesday-Friday from 5 to close, Saturday-Sunday from 11am-close, and is reserved for DC Bocce League play on Mondays & Tuesdays.

Blue Duck Tavern’s with New Spring Lunch & Dinner Menus

Blue Duck Tavern’s culinary team, including new Executive Chef Ryan LaRoche, is pleased to announce the unveiling of new menu items that showcase the return of spring, including fresh herbs harvested from the restaurant’s own Terrace herb garden.

Newcomers to the lunch menu include Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Old Bay remoulade; Cured Carolina Mountain Trout with citrus, jalapeño, and trout roe; Butter Crunch Lettuce Salad; Spring Pea Salad; Roasted Lemon-Brined Organic Chicken; Suckling Pig Sandwich; Pan-Seared Blue Catfish; and Wood Oven-Roasted Duck Confit Leg.

For dinner, new dishes include Smoked Beet Salad with Ewe’s blue cheese; Beer-Braised Bouchot Mussels; Foie Gras Custard with gooseberry compote; Crispy Pork Head Cheese; Slow-Roasted Porchetta; Chicken-Fried Wild Quail; and Seared Diver Scallops.

Giovanni Carlo Named Executive Chef of Paolo’s Ristorante

Giovanni Carlo has been named executive chef of Paolo’s Ristorante in Georgetown. Carlo brings sixteen years of experience to his new position having worked at some esteemed restaurants in the Metropolitan Washington area. He accepted his new position with Paolo’s in March, and is pleased to introduce a refreshed, new menu at Paolo’s for the spring season focusing on Pizza, Pasta & Pizzazz.

New additions on Giovanni Carlo’s spring menu include Burrata Mozzarella; Meatballs al Frono; Sicilian Eggplant Caponata; Lamb Pappardelle; Chef’s Signature Bolognese; Gnocchi alla Sorrentina; and Grilled Branzino. At brunch, tempting dishes include Parmesan Cheese and Egg Biscuit; Italian French Toast; and Paolo’s Iconic Fettuccine Carbonara.

Fabrice Bendano Named Executive Pastry Chef at Le Diplomate

Le Diplomate has announced the appointment of Fabrice Bendano as its new Executive Pastry Chef. Classically trained in French pastry, the Parisian-born Bendano is renowned as one of the area’s most talented pastry chefs, having developed dessert programs at some of the finest restaurants around the world over 20 years, from Paris and London to Las Vegas and Washington DC.  In 2012, Bendano was awarded a RAMMY award for “Pastry Chef of the Year”.

At Le Diplomate, Chef Bendano will apply his knowledge of classic French pastry, refined technique and flawless execution and presentation. The pastry program will be designed to enliven the restaurant’s commitment to authentic brasserie cuisine and culture, transporting guests to the brasseries of France via sweets and wowing with decadent flavor.

Seafood Shack at Trummer’s on Main

Chef Austin Fausett is celebrating summer at Trummer’s on Main with its second annual pop-up New England-style fish shack. Taking over the 3rd floor Gallery Room from now through July 30 and operating as a restaurant within a restaurant, the Trummer’s Seafood Shack brings the best of beachfront seafood houses to Northern Virginia.

Featured dishes include Virginia Ham and Littleneck Clam Chowder, Chicken Fried Oysters with Andouille Gravy, Lobster Roll with Diablo Mayo, Rockfish Tacos with Guacamole & Mango Pico de Gallo, Port City Wit Battered Codfish & Malt Vinegar Chips, and Rockfish Brandade Hushpuppies with Chorizo Chips & Mayo.

The Seafood Shack will also showcase Clambakes featuring Lobster, crawfish, mussels, clam, corn, and andouille sausage slowly simmered together in one pot, available for $22 per person, as well as a Seafood Tower for $54, with 10 clams, 10 oysters and 10 shrimp & ceviche.

Also expect a creative menu of “seaside cocktails” featuring fresh-squeezed juices and a unique, handmade “spray salt, ” which allows guests to spray-on a salt concoction to taste. Also available are buckets of beer served on ice,

G to Offer New A La Carte Menu

With the Yona pop-up at G winding down by May 2, Mike Isabella has announced an expansion to the menu at G, which has been offering a $40 four-course tasting menu at night, while operating as a sandwich shop by day. The new setup leaves the tasting option intact, but expands upon it with a full a la carte dining menu.

The menu, which launches May 6, allows chef de cuisine Elliot Drew, to show off more of his range, including pasta making. The new list features first courses like summer squash frittelle and shaved foie salad as well as pasta dishes like duck egg ravioli and bucatini carbonara.

Rabbit with a spring onion pesto and grilled cauliflower fiorentina with scalloped potatoes are among the main courses offered, while diners can supplement their meal with sides like braised hari cot Vert and roasted maitake mushrooms. Tasting menu meals at G always begin with a fabulous antipasti board, two sizes of which will be available on the a la carte menu.

Cafe Deluxe Launches New Gourmet Burger Menu

Cafe Deluxe Porter Burger

Cafe Deluxe is introducing a new limited time gourmet burger menu on May 4th at all five of its DC area locations. The new “Burger Days of Summer” will continue through July 31st. Check it out for a weekday lunch Monday-Friday until 3pm, as well as all day and night Wednesdays for half price.

Look out for The Philly Cheesesteak Burger—with prime rib and house made cheese sauce on the side; the Porter Burger with onions braised in porter beer; the T Coast Burger, featuring red peppers and jalapenos and pepper jack cheese, balanced with house made avocado spread and topped with crunchy cumin tortilla strips; and the Red White and Blue, featuring blue cheese with a sweet and tangy red onion marmalade and horseradish mayo.

For the non-meat eaters, try the Salmon Burger #3, topped with seaweed salad, pickled ginger, crispy spring roll strips and wasabi mayo; and the Austin Veggie, with black bean relish, jack cheese, avocado spread and sandwiched in a jalapeno cheddar bun.

Jaleo Hosts Saint Jordi Day

Saint Jordi Day is the second most important National Feast celebrated in Catalonia, Spain. José Andrés’ Jaleo will celebrate with special offerings on Thursday, April 23.

According to tradition, couples exchange gifts on Sant Jordi Day: a book for the men and a rose for the women. Similar to Valentine’s Day in the US, book and flower stalls are set up along the streets of Barcelona for people to buy.

In honor of the holiday, Jaleo will feature a selection of Catalonian tapas such as Xatonada Salad, Rap al all cremat (monkfish), Fricando and Crema Catalana. Guests are invited to donate paperback books all day at Jaleo to honor the national tradition and give back to the community. All donations will go to the Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop.