Young and Hungry

Al Crostino Reopens in Shaw Tomorrow With a Discount

alcrostinoAl Crostino will open in its new Shaw digs tomorrow, and guests will receive 30 percent off their checks through Sunday.

The Italian restaurant, which relocated from U Street NW, will be pretty similar to its previous incarnation. Owners and daughter-mother team Lina and Juliana Nicolai will serve up plenty of pastas plus some new fried items like calamari. The first floor will be a casual wine bar, while the upstairs will host the main dining room.

Reservations can be made by calling (202) 797-0523. The restaurant should have an OpenTable page next week.

Al Crostino, 1926 9th St. NW;

Photo via Al Crostino

Rosslyn Getting a Wine Bar and Fast Casual Pizza Place

sipIs Rosslyn on the verge of having a dining scene? That's the question Y&H pondered in a March column after the madhouse opening of middling Heavy Seas Alehouse. Well, Rosslyn is no 14th Street NW yet, but it does have two new spots on the way: Sip Wine Tasting & Tapas Restaurant and SpinFire. Both will open in the Monday Properties building at 1501 Wilson Blvd., where Heavy Seas is also located.

Sip Wine Tasting, which is expanding from Georgia, will offer more than 80 different wines available by the sip, half-glass, full-glass, or bottle. Many of the wines will be poured from self-serve wine machines. The vino will be accompanied by a tapas-style menu from chef Greg DeMichiel, who was on the Food Network show Cutthroat Kitchen. The Georgia menus include dishes like burrata in a jar, short rib mac and cheese, and sous vide chicken kebabs. Every dish will have a suggested wine pairing. The restaurant is slated to open in December.  Read more Rosslyn Getting a Wine Bar and Fast Casual Pizza Place

Yes, Another South American Steakhouse: Rural Society Opens


Argentine steakhouse Rural Society only opened in Thomas Circle’s Loews Madison Hotel last week, but already the staff is talking a big game. “We’re going to win the Best Restaurant of the Year from the RAMMYS next year,” General Manager Robert Esplen told me on opening day.

Bold words for the third South American–inspired steakhouse to open within a mile radius in the past year and a half (Del Campo and Toro Toro being the others). This one comes from Philadelphia-based celebrity chef Jose Garces, who is making his D.C. debut.

“Jose is a world-renowned chef, James Beard award winner, Iron Chef. The food is phenomenal. The service, I think that we’ve done such a great job in training our servers and also wine knowledge… It’s a different league," Esplen says when asked about the local competition. Game on.

One thing that makes this steakhouse a little different menu-wise? Pastas and flatbreads. Esplen explains that Buenos Aires has a lot of Italian influence due to a wave of immigrants in the 19th century. One popular Italian-inspired Argentine dish that will be represented on the menu is sorrentino, a ham and cheese ravioli. The exhibition kitchen also features a wood-fired grill similar to the one at The Red Hen. Steaks are pre-sliced and served family style. “Everything is meant to be shared,” Esplen says. There's also a variety of sausages, seafood, and vegetables cooked by flame. (Check out the full dinner menu below.)

The restaurant is open for dinner to start but will expand to breakfast and lunch on July 17. Breakfast will include traditional Argentine breakfast with mate and pastries as well as more typical American breakfast offerings. (It is in a hotel, after all.) Read more Yes, Another South American Steakhouse: Rural Society Opens

Last Night’s Leftovers: Steakhouse Edition


A guide to new and revamped steakhouses [Eater]

Crumbs Bake Shop closes all its stores. [Post]

The best brunches in 15 D.C. neighborhoods. [Thrillist]

Six non-touristy places to eat in Georgetown. [Zagat]

Kitty's Saloon coming to H Street NE. [PoPville]

D.C. restaurants navigate Obamacare. [WBJ]

Westover Beer Garden moves closer to opening in Clarendon. [ARLnow]

Photo of The Gryphon by Jessica Sidman

Daikaya to Debut Collaboration With 3 Stars Brewing Company

Daikaya1While beer and ramen may seem like a staple of American college campuses, a hearty bowl of the hot stuff paired with the right brew has always been a part Japanese culture, according to Dave Coleman of 3 Stars Brewing Company. Daikaya ramen shop will debut its first house beer, the Sansho Panza, on Thursday, a collaboration between chef Katsuya Fukuhima and 3 Stars that was six months in the making.

Although it was conceptualized during winter, with both parties going back and forth about what would pair best with the minimalist ramen shop menu, the final product is a summer beer—a 4.8% ABV, light Japanese-style Saison. Having a less yeasty flavor and far less alcohol than 3 Stars' Peppercorn Saison, Daikaya's new brew will feature the natural Japanese flavors of yuzu, a sweet and sour citrus fruit that tastes lightly of blood orange, and the sansho pepper, which is traditionally used to spice up miso soup. Sansho Panza debuts alongside a special menu and a few other options on tap selected for the occasion. Priced at $9, the beer will be served at the Chinatown ramen shop and in the Izakaya upstairs on Thursday. Coleman says more collaborations between Daikaya and 3 Stars are in the works.

Photo by Brian Oh


Remixology: Make Us a Drink With Kombucha


Bartender: Sebastian Zutant

Where: Red Hen, 1822 1st St. NW

Mystery Ingredient: Ginger-flavored Capital Kombucha

Bartender Response: Turns out Zutant is a kombucha fanboy. “I literally drink kombucha every other day,” he said. “I thought the ingredient would be, like, oxblood or something.”

What We Got: Zutant wasted no time whipping up a mezcal and Aperol concoction topped with fizzy kombucha and a sprig of mint. The way the ginger kombucha hovered over the peachy-orange Aperol and mezcal mixture was quite pretty. Read more Remixology: Make Us a Drink With Kombucha

Are You Gonna Eat That? Seoul Soondae’s Korean Blood Sausage Soup


The Dish: Soondae blood sausage soup

Where to Get It: Seoul Soondae, 4231 Markham Street, Annandale; (703) 642-2220

Price: $8.99

What It Is: Korean blood sausage is unlike its cousins British blood pudding, Spanish morcilla, and French boudin noir—all of which have a denser, richer texture and taste. Soondae (or sundae) is just as dark, thanks to the blood, but vermicelli noodles and glutinous rice lighten the texture.

What It Tastes Like: By itself, soondae is like a cold kitchen sponge: bland, porous, bouncy, and almost gummy. That is, until you lift a piece from the bowl of sizzling, hearty pork broth chock full of offal, cabbage, and a generous dollop of spicy gochugaru hot bean paste. Then it becomes an explosive vortex of flavor that’s so addictive, it’s hard to resist finishing the entire bowl—except that it’s almost too filling to finish. Read more Are You Gonna Eat That? Seoul Soondae’s Korean Blood Sausage Soup

Three Sophisticated Piña Coladas You Should Try

Piña coladas are more often appreciated by Banana Boat–slathered sun seekers than serious cocktail connoisseurs. That’s a shame, says DGS Delicatessen Beverage Director Brian Zipin, because “the piña colada along with the Mai Tai are the two greatest drinks in the world, in my opinion—except for Manhattans.” Zipin and a number of other top bartenders around D.C. are revisiting the tropical tipple this summer, using freshly squeezed juices and other unique flourishes. Here are three places to indulge your inner beach bum while still feeling like a sophisticated drinker.

doimoiDoi Moi/2 Birds 1 Stone

Price: $14

Bar Manager Adam Bernbach’s long-standing piña colada at 2 Birds 1 Stone recently migrated upstairs to sister restaurant Doi Moi as one of a dozen new tiki-inspired drinks. His current version combines daily juiced pineapple with white and light brown sugar, coconut milk, and fresh lime juice. The mixture is put through a siphon, which adds a slight frizzante quality, before it’s combined with El Dorado Rum. Bernbach switches up the ingredients throughout the year, sometimes using roasted pineapple or an aged rum that he infuses with vanilla, cinnamon, and toasted black pepper.  Read more Three Sophisticated Piña Coladas You Should Try

In D.C.’s Transient Restaurant Scene, Stelios Alexandris has Stayed Put for 34 Years

Y_H_Stelios-1Stelios Alexandris has been filling water glasses and taking orders long enough that he used to serve Hubert Humphrey at The Monocle on Capitol Hill. “I was like up to here to him,” Alexandris says, hovering his hand around his shoulder to show his height compared to that of the then-senator and former vice-president. In fact, he still has a photo the two once took together. “He was hugging me. He was a tall man! I had long hair over my ears. Those were the fashions of the ’70s.”

For the past three decades, though, Alexandris has been a front-of-house pillar at Georgetown’s 1789 Restaurant, where he’s served a list of Washington’s who’s who that would put even the most avid namedroppers to shame. He recalls catering a dinner for the first President George Bush at the Blair House during his inauguration, President Bill Clinton circling the restaurant to shake hands with nearly every fellow diner, and that one time Bob Hope broke into song in the middle of the dining room.

But among all the big names and important figures, Alexandris has become something of an institutional celebrity himself. Patrons frequently request to be put in “Steli’s” section when they make reservations. “They say, ‘We don’t really care where in the restaurant we sit, as long as that’s where he’s working,’” 1789 General Manager Rich Kaufman says. Even before Kaufman joined the staff two and half years ago, Alexandris was on his radar. “He’s just one of those guys, you come in to dinner here more than once or twice and you talk to people, you just end up knowing him.”

Last week, Alexandris finally got some recognition beyond the equestrian print–covered walls of the fine dining establishment where he’s worked for more than half of his life. With his two sons, wife, and sister looking on, Alexandris received the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s annual RAMMY award for Employee of the Year—one of the few honors that recognizes local industry vets who are neither chefs nor restaurateurs. (Washington City Paper is a RAMMYS media sponsor.) Actually, “vet” is an understatement. At 59 years old, Alexandris has been a waiter at 1789 longer than the restaurant’s general manager, chef, and a lot of the staff have even been alive. That’s no small achievement in a business where employees come and go as frequently as menu specials. So what would possess someone to work in the same place, in the same humble position for 34 years? Read more In D.C.’s Transient Restaurant Scene, Stelios Alexandris has Stayed Put for 34 Years

Last Night’s Leftovers: Ice Cream Edition


A guide to D.C. ice cream [BYT]

Five All-American beers to drink over Fourth of July [Washingtonian]

The best hot dogs in D.C. [DCist]

Behind the scenes of David Guas' new TV show American Grilled. [Post]

Bangkok Golden chef plans Laotian restaurant for D.C. [Eater]

Nine refreshing summer soups [Zagat]

Lawsons closes in Metro Center. [PoPville]

Photo by Jessica Sidman