New and Up-and-Coming Restaurants

Insatiable

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Washington seafood mogul Greg Casten appears omnipresent these days—racing between Georgetown to Ivy City to Buzzard Point in Southwest DC. He keeps a busy schedule as founder and owner of ProFish (seafood purveyors), Ivy City Smokehouse and Tavern, Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place and Nick’s Riverside Grill (both on the Georgetown waterfront). This spring, he unveiled The Point, 2100 Second St. SW, at Buzzard Point, near DC United’s Audi Stadium.

Why Buzzard Point? “We’re looking at where the Potomac and the Anacostia meet,” he responded, as we munched crunchy Boardwalk fries at his spacious new restaurant. A lifetime waterman, Casten, 58, grew up near Boston, where he worked on lobster boats.

Designed by Allison Cooke of Core Architecture + Design, the 12,500-square-foot restaurant is gorgeous. Soaring, 22-foot ceilings are zig-zagged with neon (including giant crustaceans), sweeping booths and lots of plants. Check out the zany restroom décor which features orange and yellow shoe soles.

Executive chef Benjamin Lambert (who cooked at the famous Restaurant Nora), creates fire-grilled seafood clam beignets, whole branzino, salmon, and “turf” dishes involving duck and chicken. One notable starter is a doughnut stuffed with creamy crab dip. Among vegetarian options is fire-roasted cauliflower shawarma.

Perusing the luncheon menu, Peter and I sat outside on the spacious terrace, where we could see the Yacht Club and passing helicopters. Five fire pits will ward off chilly weather.

Crab aficionado Peter eyed the jumbo crab cake sandwich, listed at “market price.”  Crabs are extremely expensive this year. “The highest in my 31 years in the business,” Casten explained, adding that ProFish pays $40 per pound for crabmeat. “We absorb some of the price,” Casten said. By the way, all ProFish seafoods swam in Maryland waters.

At The Point, the crab cake sandwich was $26, and Peter went for it. Nestled in a brioche bun with the fixings, the jumbo cakes were flavorful, moist and filler-free, practically falling apart. I considered ordering the crispy calamari, but decided on mahi mahi tostadas. Good choice; firm white fish chunks were arranged atop a crisp tortilla, draped with cabbage, tomatillo-avocado salsa and radish wedges. The $26 Ivy City Smoked Fish board is loaded with salmon, rainbow trout, whitefish salad and other goodies.

A customer favorite at Ivy City’s Baker’s Daughter is the “classic” ham-and-cheese nestled in a buttered baguette with a side of Brussels sprouts.

Lunch for two—including my glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc–came to $58 before tax. Service, provided by Franny, was excellent. The Point is open daily; call 202-948-2522 or visit www.thepointdc.com.

And, coming soon to Buzzard Point: La Vie (a spinoff of the District Wharf’s La Vie), around the corner from The Point. For updates, visit www.lavie-dc.com.

Ivy City Expansion

Chef Matt Baker, who wields his whisk at the Michelin-starred Gravitas in Ivy City, is launching a new restaurant, Michele’s. Look for it this fall in the Eaton Hotel, 1201 K St. NW. Michele’s French-American theme will incorporate influences from New Orleans and Houston. (Michele’s is named after Baker’s late mother Michele, a New Orleans native who raised him in Houston.) Michele’s will have a communal dining room and a raw bar dishing out 18-course omakase (tastings selected by the chef) repasts.

Gravitas’ sister eatery, Baker’s Daughter, located across the street, is also opening an offshoot in the Eaton, plus another Baker’s in Chinatown. Look for it later this year at 625 I St. NW. Besides carryout and delivery, the Chinatown spinoff will offer a few patio seats.

Meanwhile, Ivy City’s Baker’s Daughter, located at 1401 Okie St. NE, has expanded its café menu: All day breakfast options encompass avocado toast, quiche, chorizo egg and cheese breakfast tacos. Among luncheon favorites is a “classic” ham and cheese sandwich on a buttered French baguette with cornichons.

We ordered the “classic” and devoured it in the rather plain dining area. The sandwich came with choice of sides. While fried Brussels sprouts have become a cliché, Baker’s rendition, with caramelized onions and drizzled with honey, was memorable. The kitchen also prepares a few Korean entrees. Call 202-729-6990 or visit www.bakersdaughterdc.com.

Menomale’s Neapolitan style prosciutto cotto pizza is crowned with ham, mushrooms, fresh basil and olive oil.

Pizza in NoMa

My dining companion and I decided to check out Menomale Pizza, an offshoot of the Brookland original. Located at 33 N St. NE, the six-month-old Menomale NoMa specializes in two pizza styles, crafted by Naples-born chef Ettore Rusciano. Emerging from his handsome, dome shaped tiled oven are round, thin-crusted Neapolitan and alla Romana pizzas. The latter has a thicker crust, with toppings blanketing the entire surface.

We decided on the Neapolitan prosciutto cotto (ham) pizza, crowned with ham, mushrooms, fresh basil, parmesan and a sprinkling of olive oil. The crust was awesome, chewy, and the edges were crusty and slightly blistered.

. Emerging from Menomale Pizza’s dome-shaped, tiled oven are Neapolitan and Roman style pies.

Among pizzas (also available gluten-free) are Margarita, pesto, salsiccia (sausage and mushrooms), diavola (spicy sausage). Other Italian favorites include antipasto misto (salami, prosciutto, grapes, goat cheese, olives); mozzarella-stuffed squash blossoms, calzone verde, and seafood salads. If you save room for dessert, try the popular La Bomba (pizza dough filled with Nutella), limoncello gelato, or tiramsu. The full bar pours limoncello, grappa, wine, beer and cocktails.  Lunch for two came to $63.36 (including my glass of Pinot Grigio) and tip. Service, provided by Ajene, was excellent.

Menomale Pizza (NoMa) is open for lunch and dinner daily except for Tuesday. Call 202-216-0630 or visit www.menomale.com.

Next door at 35 N St. NW and under the same management is Salumeria 2703, a sprightly shop offering fresh and dried pastas, wines, olive oils, crackers, cookies, frozen desserts and freshly made lasagna and other entrees. Call 202-408-1939 or visit www.salumeria2703.com.

Market Watch

Remember when “British food” used to be an oxymoron? Not anymore. London and other English cities boast excellent restaurants and food purveyors. In Union Market, chef Nicholas Martino has unveiled Above Ground, bringing “classic” offerings like sausage rolls, fish & chips, haddock, triple-cooked chips (fries) and mushy peas (they taste better than the name sounds). Chef Martino’s love of British cuisine was sparked while cooking alongside British celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, who taught him to prepare homespun victuals. Above Ground is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Union Market is located at 1309 Fifth St. NE.