The only thing left to decide is which of the nearly three dozen pieces of china the award-winning chef has stockpiled over the years to use as canvases for each order the kitchen sends out.
An aficionado of eye-catching tableware, Ratino says he’s got approximately 29 types of china on hand at the new restaurant he’s expected to unveil at 1906 14th Street NW in the coming weeks. The collection ranges from a white dish he purchased from the now-defunct Cleveland Park restaurant he worked at just a few months ago, to “cool quirky things” he’s picked up during trips to Europe and late-night shopping binges on the Internet.
“Not everything has to be the same in my opinion … as long as all the pieces are nice,” he says of his affinity for mixing-and-matching.
An avid collector, Ratino says he was struck by what he spotted in Spanish chef Dani Garcia’s family of restaurants during visits to the area. “I’ve never seen cooler plates in my life than in Paris and Spain,” he tells Eater. “They have some really stunning pieces over there.”
Closer to home, Ratino says he admires the presentation options at Michelin-starred Masseria
If anything, Ratino says he has to stop himself from snatching up every provocative dish he comes across. “You look at those restaurants, you see pictures, then you are googling like ‘black round plate with a half-inch rim’ or something silly until you find what you’re looking for,” he warns.
His latest acquisition: “some whimsical ceramic vessels for cocktails.”
Get an eyeful of the varied conversation starters when the restaurant opens for dinner on September 22.
The projected hours of operation are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. The bar is expected to open at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.