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Conosci Creator Michael Schlow Wants to Take the Experimental Eatery to the Next Level

Pop-ups will cycle through the Mt. Vernon Triangle spot during the hunt for a new home

The main counter at restaurant-within-a-restaurant, Conosci.
Photo by Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Hideaway restaurant Conosci, a logistical challenge that has since blossomed into a culinary force all its own, is going away on Saturday, September 9. But management vows it will return — once a more suitable environment becomes available.

According to restaurateur Michael Schlow, the original crudo bar was spawned out of necessity; he wasn’t able to install a hood system on the side of the building opposite companion restaurant Alta Strada, so room-temperature meals became the focal point next door. The exclusivity of it all sparked interest. Then things blew up.

“Truthfully, we never thought we were going to get a 3-star review from the [Washington] Post,” he says, adding, “It became something bigger than I ever imagined.”

Schlow wants to transplant Conosci somewhere better, without compromising its carefully cultivated identity. “I want to keep it small,” he says, floating a few dozen seats as the ideal. The core concern: securing a full kitchen.

He’s in no rush, though. “When the right space comes along, that’s when we make the move. We don’t want to force it,” he tells Eater.

In the interim, his culinary team, including Conosci executive chef George Rodrigues, has already queued up a half-dozen replacements expected to flow through the range-free eatery in the coming months. First up: Spanish-themed Calle Cinco.

“Tapas first just made sense to me,” Schlow says, touting Rodriques’ travels through Spain and his experience with the format — Rodrigues previously helped out at sharing-centric Tico — as motivating factors. Tentative offerings include garlicky shrimp (gambas al ajillo), fried rice balls (croquetas de paella), and fudge-capped churros.

Schlow is leaving the door open to extending Calle Cinco’s planned one-month run (should it prove successful). He also envisions giving ambitious kitchen staff, and perhaps outsiders, a crack at the location.

“Maybe it’s a joint venture with someone,” he says of the next temporary restaurant. “As chefs, we like to be spontaneous.” He also mentioned the possibility of throwing cooking classes and wine tastings into the mix.

Calle Cinco is scheduled to debut on Tuesday, September 12.


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