After 30 years in the local mortgage banking business, Rick Weiner is ready for something a little more satisfying — so he’s opening a casual pizza parlor in D.C. next year.
Weiner tells Eater he’s close to reaching a deal on a small underground location in Mount Pleasant (3110 Mount Pleasant Street NW) for Rick’s Craft Pizza. Oyamel alum Christian Irabien pulled out of plans to open his Mexican-themed Amparo in the same 35-seat space this summer.
The self-taught cook has been toying with the idea of opening his own restaurant for five years. Along the way, he’s met one serious mentor by chance: chef José Andrés, whose golf locker is next to his at TPC Potomac.
“He’s offered to answer any questions I have down the road,” he says of the busy restaurateur, adding, “It’s hard to get him to stay focused at the moment.”
Utilizing a test kitchen in Beltsville, Maryland, Weiner has taste-tested his pies amongst his peers at real estate events. He says he’s receiving “rave reviews,” so he thinks he’s ready for the next logical step of opening a brick-and-mortar.
A centrally-located pizza oven will serve “Neapolitan-ish” 12-inch pizzas with “top of the line” ingredients, Weiner says.
One pie in the works features extra virgin olive oil as a base. As for toppings, Weiner says he wants to incorporate seasonal fruits like sliced peaches or pears along with meats such as prosciutto, sweet fennel sausage, pork shoulder, and cured chorizo. He’s also integrated Vermont maple syrup, honey, and aged provolone and gouda into some test pies.
Weiner plans to stock Rick’s with lots of craft beer options, which would also be available for purchase in four-packs. He plans to keep the brews local, naming Maryland’s Brookeville Beer Farm as one potential supplier. He also wants to keep the vibe relaxed.
“You can get a glass, take a seat, and they’ll bring out the pizza when it’s ready,” he says, of the envisioned setup. “I don’t want to do wait service if I don’t have to.”
Other potential sites for Weiner’s shop are still in play. There’s one in Cleveland Park and another near the Convention Center, with hopes to land in around 1,000 to 1,200 square feet. Weiner is working with Pulse Property Group broker Patrick Slagle to lock down a lease.
Weiner will keep his day job in the interim, so the restaurant will serve only dinner to start. He’ll also keep busy by hitting balls in Potomac, Maryland, alongside Andrés.
“He’s not the world’s greatest golfer but he’s an absolute blast to play — the most fun I ever had is playing in a foursome with him,” he says of the recent Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
Weiner has another mentor in David Trevelino, who runs the kitchen at the private golf course and has let him bake pies on-site.
“I am happiest when I am cooking and making people happy,” says Weiner.
His potential Mount Pleasant location — which he is “seriously” considering at this point — already has an adjoining after-dinner dessert option: Mount Desert Island Ice Cream, which opened upstairs this summer.