Word came at the end of last month that Floriana owner Dino Tapper would be taking over the Cleveland Park Tackle Box space at the end of the Bandolero pop-up preview to open a tapas restaurant named Pulpo and, by golly, it has already happened. Last Friday, in fact, and very quietly. Prince of Petworth reported earlier this afternoon that the restaurant has soft-opened as it awaits its liquor license, which Tapper tells Eater could arrive as soon as June 6.
Since "soft open" can mean so many different things, what exactly does it mean in this case? Well, the restaurant is completely open to the public, but only on a walk-in basis from 5-10:30 p.m. on the main floor as the mezzanine level isn't yet open. Tapper says the menu will be much larger after the grand opening — and include some molecular gastronomy techniques — though this larger menu might not debut until perhaps two weeks after the liquor license arrives.
Tapper explains that Pulpo's soft opening menu is "Spanish tapas-inspired. By no means are we classic or traditional." He emphasizes the octopus dishes — hence the name Pulpo, which is Spanish for octopus — but also a pasta-less ravioli dish involving carrot, beet and pea purees that he says are soaked in an acid wash. As Tapper explains it, "Spain is the home of molecular gastronomy, it was invented there. So we would like to do some of it. We would like to start cooking with some nitrogen later also." There's also a list of cocktails, sangrias and beer, but for now they're just serving mocktails — which will also be available after the liquor license comes through.
The restaurateur says he didn't do too much to the space, which explains the quick turn-around. Since Jonathan Umbel had only just opened Tackle Box about a year ago, the electrical and mechanical aspects were already good to go, so Pulpo's buildout mostly involved re-painting, putting in new light fixtures and putting in a new bar. Also, lots of cleaning.
While Pulpo hasn't even officially opened yet, Tapper says to expect several more ventures from him in the next five years or so — a new restaurant every 18 to 24 months. He says he hasn't secured any spaces yet, but wants to open a restaurant named after his daughter Sophia as well as an Asian fusion spot. So stay tuned.
Pulpo [Photo: Facebook]