The folks behind Cava threw open the doors to their latest concept — this time, an Italian small plates restaurant out in Rockville named Sugo Cicchetti — almost two weeks ago. While Greek-focused Cava and its fast-casual spinoff Cava Grill have fared well over the years, exactly what will become of the restaurateurs' take on Italian? Well, from the opening preview party until today, here's a look at what the early diners are saying.
The Good Design News: One Yelper files a detailed report on the look and feel of the new restaurant, writing: "We were seated almost immediately, and both my wife and I immediately liked the look and atmosphere. High ceilings with a central U-shaped bar and multiple smaller dining areas gives a more intimate feeling than you might expect from what is a good-sized restaurant. Tables are spaced apart well. It's possible to have a conversation with the next table over without having to yell, but you can have conversations at a normal volume. The open kitchen, with its brick oven is a nice touch too." [Yelp]
The Bad Expansion News: Not everybody who loves Cava was pleased, it appears: "I love Cava, one of my favorite restaurants. Unfortunately the owners blew it here. Maybe it's the partnership with Mama Lucia? To begin with we were excited, the restaurant had a buzz like all Cavas, slick interior. Friendly staff looked like fun. Then came our soggy salad, I almost choked when the ton of dressing ran down my throat. Then came the gnocchi that they bragged about as homemade and special totally mushey over soaked in oil, tasted like a wet sponge. Seconds later everything came out at once, we were done in what seemed like 20 min. The octopus was ok but again heavy on sauce, not that light grilled taste one would experience at Cava." [Yelp]
The Rave: Meanwhile, for other locals it was love at first dine: "Just wow! My wife and I visited SuGo for its soft opening last night and were completely blown away by the experience. Might be our new favorite restaurant in the area. The food, drinks, and service were excellent despite it being a soft opening. The modern decor is very tasteful and appropriate. ... Throughout the night, I didn't see any food in the restaurant that didn't look appealing. The cocktails were also fantastic. I tried the Apricot Mint Julep, Elderflower Margarita, and the Peach Bellini. The first two were my favorites." [Yelp]
The Pizza News: One Don Rockwellian reports back about the pizza situation at Sugo: "We also ate at Sugo night two. Agree about the service; a little rough, but I guess that's to be expected. As to the pizza,I'm all about the crust. We had the pizza with sauce and mozzarella (not buffalo). Not soupy at all. The problem with buffalo mozzarella is that it releases a lot of liquid when it melts, resulting in "soupy" pizza. Our crust was crisp, with a good bite, a little salty, great crumb. However, there was way too much sauce. With a crust this good, they need to dial the sauce way back. My advice is to order the "oven baked bread. " it's the pizza crust with a little olive oil, salt, and rosemary. We loved it." [Don Rockwell]
The Pre-Opening News: A Don Rockwell moderator hit up the preview party and shares some thoughts, with full disclosure: "Went to the (comp) pre-opening tonight, and was very pleased - this place is going to be a hit in Potomac. As noted above, this is from the people behind Cava partnering with the Mamma Lucia team, and it shows. Small plate menu with a lot of ingredient overlap with Cava, but presented from an Italian perspective rather than Greek. Harold, yes, the space between FF and Zoe's Kitchen. By my count, there are 25 seats outside, 75 at tables inside, and 25 and 10 seats at the two bars. There's a lot of standing room by the bars as well, and the hard floors, tiled walls, marble bars, exposed ceilings, and cloth-free wood tables and chairs means it's going to get very loud in there when the place gets full, which I expect to happen all the time. [Don Rockwell]
The Great News: Macaroni Kid also went to the preview party and gives some good food news: "After sampling several amazing small plates, our favorites included the Onion Love pizza (caramelized onions, shallots, goat cheese and truffles), the Smoked Salmon (served cold with lentils) and the Green Eggs & Ham (deviled eggs, crispy pancetta, truffle and basil oils). I also really enjoyed the veal SUGO slider and will definitely be ordering everything I tried again! As my dad said, the only problem we foresee with SUGO is how packed they are going to be once they open for business on May 2nd." [Macaroni Kid]