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The first of many eateries to arrive inside Officina is its cafe, now slinging sandwiches and cocktails.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

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Officina’s Stunning Sun-Drenched Cafe Just Landed on the Wharf

The first part of chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s tri-level Italian destination is here

Officina’s all-day waterfront cafe aims to cater to every craving and schedule, whether that means ordering a to-go cappuccino and cannoli — or leisurely sipping a morning Aperol spritz while taking in views of boats bobbing outside.

“If you’re working the night shift that could be your happy hour,” says chef Nicholas Stefanelli of the airy European-style cafe, the debut piece of his anticipated tri-level culinary playground.

The 40-seat setup quietly opened over the weekend and is running with limited service this week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for food and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. for cocktails. Eventually, its hours will stretch from 7 a.m. to midnight daily (1120 Maine Avenue SW), with full bar service all day.

Stefanelli’s transportive goal is to make D.C. diners imagine they’re hanging out in a modern Italian cafe across the globe, with pastries and egg sandwiches in the morning followed by all-day Italian street food fare as the sun sets. Think: Roman-style pizzas, fried arancini balls, gourmet sandwiches, cakes, and a gelato bar, with an in-house butcher providing an array of meats.

“There are a lot of fun things here inspired by your traditional bar in Italy you can walk to in the morning, or stop by in the afternoon for a Negroni,” says Stefanelli, who also owns Northeast’s Michelin-starred Masseria.

If classic Italian cocktails taste familiar, they should; some of Masseria’s bar staff relocated to Southwest to man the program at Officina. A vast selection of Italian wines are also a big part of the opening lineup, with eight whites, eight reds, a rose, and four sparkling varieties by the glass or half carafe.

A gigantic wine cellar, which inches up all three floors, is currently stocked with 500 selections. The vino chest has the ability to house up to 4,000 bottles, Stefanelli tells Eater.

Officina’s second-level restaurant and scenic terrace above will soon join the mix — complete with casual Southern Italian fare and rooftop champagne (there’s a whopping 75 bubbly varieties) — starting Friday, October 12.

On Monday, October 15, the first-floor market will open, triggering full-blown service across all three levels. Here’s a go-to guide on operating hours once all components come online, which also includes an amaro bar dedicated to the Italian herbal liqueur. Officina’s reservations portal on Resy is now live.

“There’s a little something for everybody. The Wharf is a great place because the demographic changes with concerts and programming,” he says.

The cafe also features a glass-encased selection of hyper-rotating pastries and baked goods, which means diners can sample a different bite every day.

“We just put out cannolis, fresh and stuffed made to order every day,” he says.

Status: First-floor cafe is certified open, with the 150-seat restaurant and terrace scheduled to arrive next on Friday, October 12 (stay tuned for photos this week). 1120 Maine Avenue SW; website.*

Scroll on for a look inside the elegant cafe:

Officina’s cafe offers a robust selection of spirits — including a few bottles of pricey Louis XIII cognac.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Officina’s cafe windows roll up to reveal breezy vistas of the Wharf. “It all depends on how nice the day is,” says owner Nicholas Stefanelli, of whether windows are open or not.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
The cafe will transform into a bar of sorts as the day progresses, with alcohol served until midnight daily.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Inspired by Italy’s popular “aperitivo” happy hours, Officina’s cafe offers freshly-made arancini alongside afternoon cocktails.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
D.C. architecture firm Grupo-7 integrated lots of blue tiling, chrome accents, and mosaic flooring across Officina.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC
Officina’s cafe will eventually run themed events around charcuterie and Lambrusco offerings. “In a sense it’s a happy hour, but we’re having more fun with it than just ‘$2 off beer,’” says chef Nicholas Stefanelli.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

*Note: Officina will be closed on Sunday, October 14 and for its invite-only opening party on Tuesday, October 16.

Officina

1120 Maine Avenue Southwest, , DC 20024 (202) 747-5222 Visit Website

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