Officina, the three-level food hall restaurateur Nicholas Stefanelli is erecting at the Wharf, is now projected to open this summer.
That will give the owner of Michelin-starred Masseria a few more months to build up the collection of amaros he’ll feature at Officina’s coziest bar; perfect the grab-and-go dishes served at the spacious ground floor market; and choose the most glorious “hunks of meat” to be placed before diners at the casual restaurant.
The ambitious endeavor was originally scheduled to arrive this spring, along with other members of the Wharf’s roster of rolling openings; that list includes neighboring Rappahannock Oyster Bar and rum-focused Potomac Distilling Company. Stefanelli tells Eater that construction is coming along but that there’s still plenty of little details to fill in. He says he’s working with Jimi Yui, who also helped designed the original Eataly in New York City, on making the multi-purpose space flow as most efficiently as possible.
First up: opening the market and cafe on the bottom floor. Stefanelli says the shopping hub will include areas dedicated to freshly baked breads, imported cheeses, cured meats, and dried pasta. There will also be an in-house butcher. He’s planning to serve coffee and pastries in the mornings, opening as early as 7 a.m. to accommodate the office workers a few buildings over. He’ll then switch to an all-day menu featuring Roman-style pizza, gourmet sandwiches, fried arancini, and more. “Stuff you can eat while walking around,” is how he describes the likely lineup.
The rooftop, which is split between a 60-seat private event space and a 70-seat gathering spot open to the general public, should follow shortly thereafter. Stefanelli says some light fare will be served up top, but he’s hoping the rooftop crowd will favor sparkling wines, specialty cocktails, and aperitivos.
The middle floor will be the final piece of the puzzle. And it sounds like it’s Stefanelli’s favorite. Instead of going the prix fixe route as he has at his flagship restaurant in northeast, Stefanelli says the Wharf restaurant will be entirely a la carte. Customers will have the option to try and claim a spot in the 90-seat main dining room, or book a sure thing in the 12-seat private dining room. Stefanelli hasn’t settled on a final menu, but tells Eater patrons should expect casual Southern Italian food. “Pasta, vegetables, and big hunks of meat” is how he put it.
He’s also carved out room for a 5-seat bar he’s dubbed the Amaro Library. While it will also function as the restaurant’s service bar, Stefanelli says customers will have the opportunity to taste the dozens of herbal liqueurs he’s amassed (80 vintages, and counting) — some dating back to the 1930s. “It’s more of an after experience,” Stefanelli says of the post-dinner sipping he’s hoping to foster at the niche drinking spot.
The market and cafe at Officina is projected to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. The restaurant is projected to serve lunch Friday through Sunday (and then roll into continuous service), and dinner daily. The rooftop is projected to operate all day on Saturday and Sunday, and open for happy hour and dinner daily.