Insatiable – September 2017

364

With fall and football in the air, culinary yearnings turn to wonderful, smoky barbecue. With that in mind, we headed to DCity Smokehouse, tucked into the Truxton Circle neighborhood between Bloomingdale and Shaw. Husband Peter, the family barbecue expert, has this to say:

When Celeste and I drove along Florida Avenue to Shaw on a recent Saturday, we sniffed a tantalizing aroma outside DCity Smokehouse. “We’ve got to check out this place to see if its food tastes as good as it smells,” I told Celeste. It did.

We were not disappointed the next week when we pigged out at one of DC’s hottest new barbecue joints. The welcoming smoky odor permeates the cozy eight-month-old eatery, overseen by pitmeister Shawn McWhirter.

DCity Smokehouse provides outdoor seating at picnic tables. Photo: Celeste McCall

I ordered my favorite barbecue sandwich, the Original Pulled Pork, with coleslaw and a tangy homemade BBQ sauce. Celeste opted for the Meaty Palmer sandwich, stuffed with turkey, pork belly, avocado, and tomato accompanied by a zesty chipotle aioli. Both cost $10. Our sandwiches were decadently delicious. My only complaint: my bun was so soggy I had to use a plastic fork to eat my pulled (or chopped) pork. We were too full for anything else.

Other sandwiches (all $10 or less) include Brisket Champ (sliced beef brisket), Smokehouse Champ, DCity half-smoke, the Big Scoop (half-smoke and pulled pork), and the Tommy Gun (smoked turkey, cheese, crispy onions, BBQ sauce, and cilantro ranch). Next time!

If you want heavier dishes, try the platters: Smokehouse Meat (choice of brisket, turkey, or pork belly, $16), BBQ Sampler (brisket, rib tips, and two sides, $20), the Showstopper (rib tips, brisket, and smoked wings, $30), Smokehouse Picnic Basket for Five ($70), and Ribs & Wings Combo ($15).

The friendly bar at DCity Smokehouse focuses on beer and cocktails. Photo: Celeste McCall

Sides (ranging $3 to $6) include potato salad, classic coleslaw, hushpuppies, fried onions, BBQ beans, smoky brisket chili, jalapeno cheddar grits, spiced fries, fried Brussels sprouts, mac & cheese, spicy collard greens, and house pickles.

By the way, the bar focuses on beer and cocktails, not wine. Celeste sampled the white sangria and found it cloyingly sweet. She settled for lemonade. The owners combine a bit of North Carolina (pork) with Texas (brisket) and other regions to provide hungry diners with an inexpensive, satisfying meal.

Open daily, DCity Smokehouse is located at 203 Florida Ave. NW; call 202-733-1919 or visit www.dcitysmokehouse.com. 

Honeycomb, Burgers, and Lobsters
Things keep happening in Shaw. Coming soon, maybe next month, to 14th and T streets NW, is Bresca (Spanish for “honeycomb”). No worries: Policy Restaurant & Lounge, which shares that same address, remains upstairs, while Bresca will move into the renovated downstairs space.

Chef Ryan Ratino, who wielded his whisk at the now-defunct Ripple (Cleveland Park), will head Bresca’s innovative French kitchen. Inspired by the European concept of “bistronomy” (“bistro” and “gastronomy”), Ratino intends to experiment with myriad ingredients, vibrant flavors and techniques. Yes, honey will figure in his yet-to-be divulged menu and in cocktails devised by mixologist Juan Coronado. Located at 1906 14th St. NW, Bresca will be open six nights a week, closed Mondays. For updates visit www.brescadc.com.

Also in Shaw, look for the Great American Bistro at 1545 New Jersey Ave. NW, later this fall. If all goes well, Victoria Manages, who operates the spa Salon Le Fini, next door, and biz partner James McKinney plan to open the bistro in a vacant storefront which once housed a convenience store. McKinney will direct construction and design of the 1,600 square-foot enterprise, which would be located several blocks away from Shaw’s main commercial area.

Management is looking for an executive chef who will tackle ambitious plans for dispensing breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The morning menu is expected to encompass bagels, pancakes, waffles, creamed chipped beef. Lunch: build-your-own burgers (beef, turkey, or veggie), build-your-own grilled cheese with myriad varieties, Maine lobster rolls. Dinner will bring shrimp and grits, rotisserie chicken, grilled veggie platters, and more. Great American Bistro will be open seven days, including Saturday and Sunday brunch. Stay tuned. 

High Spirits
Congrats to the Columbia Room, 124 Blagden Alley NW, in Mount Vernon Triangle, across from the Walter Washington Convention Center. Operated by Drink Company President Derek Brown (head bartender is J.P. Fetherston), the high-end lounge took top honors at the 2017 Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. This is the first time a District bar has ever won this award. Previous winners include lower Manhattan’s Dead Rabbit, where “Dining Notes” sipped and dined this past spring.

Godfather’s Subs
Now here’s an offer you can’t refuse. A long-time Florida-favorite sub shop has unveiled an offshoot in Shaw, hoping to lure round-the-clock city crowds hungry for hoagies. Located at 715 Florida Ave. NW, the local transplant is named Capo Italian Deli. The moniker refers to the head (godfather?) of an Italian family.

The original eatery, dubbed V&S Italian Deli, was founded in Boca Raton by Sal Falcone and his brother in 1985. Capo co-founder Andy Seligman had become a regular at V&S while attending college nearby. More than 20 years later, he convinced Falcone to install a second version here in the District, which Seligman believes is lacking in authentic Italian delis with fresh-baked breads. Seligman also is co-owner of Brickside Food & Drink in Bethesda and Grand Central (Adams Morgan).

The 750 square-foot Capo, co-operated with Seligman’s longtime business partner Brian Vasile, carries many of the same products as its Sunshine State parent. The Capo Special (sopressata, mortadella, provolone) is a classic, and hot plates like chicken (or eggplant) Parmesan, lasagna, baked ziti, and sauteed broccoli rabe are perennial favorites. Grocery items include meats, cheeses, crackers, and bottles of Capo Italian dressing, a homemade concoction of Italian spices, olive oil, and vinegar that’s splashed on subs.

Falcone hopes to inspire the same loyal following he’s fostered in Florida. After observing the lively U Street weekend scene, he decided to cash in on the late-night crowd by staying open an hour after last call at nearby bars.

Capo Italian Deli is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; call 202-827-8012 or visit www.capodc.com.