Officina, the multi-functional Italian destination restaurateur Nicholas Stefanelli is erecting at the Wharf, is now shooting to open its to-go market and scenic rooftop at the end of August.
The owner of Michelin-starred Masseria tells Eater the sprawling shopping hub and cafe on the bottom floor will debut first, either the third of fourth week of August. Since it’s a new building (1120 Maine Avenue SW), attempting to look like a worn-in Italian eatery would “be too contrived,” he says. Instead, he's shooting to replicate a modern market popping up in current-day Italy.
“I’ve been really fascinated by chartreuse,” he says, of the color scheme.
D.C. architecture firm Grupo-7 (behind Atlas District’s colorful Fare Well and Dolcezza City Center) designed the three-story venture, which will feature blue tiling splashed across walls, lots of wood accents, exposed ceilings, soft lighting, and black-and-white flooring.
Upon entry, the cavernous first-floor level will open daily at 7 a.m. as a coffee shop, slinging pastries and egg sandwiches, with all-day Italian street food fare entering the mix as the day progresses. Think: Roman-style pizzas, gourmet sandwiches, cakes, and a gelato bar. An in-house butcher will provide an array of meats.
The market component, tentatively expected to operate from 9 a.m to 7 p.m. (with extended hours depending on demand), will be stocked with to-go items like baked breads, imported cheeses, dried pasta, and anchovies. And, of course, lots of Italian wines.
“Ideally we’d like to have a million,” says Stefanelli.
His team is playing around with different wine shelving configurations to cater to customers coming off the street or those grabbing a bottle for their boats bobbing on the nearby dock. Jimi Yui, who also helped designed the original Eataly in New York City, worked to make the multi-purpose space flow as most efficiently as possible. A series of monthly wine dinners will highlight different regions of Italy, with featured wines available for purchase.
The rooftop — a 60-seat outdoor respite on the third floor — will open during Officina’s first full weekend with just drinks to start (think: sparkling wines, specialty cocktails, and aperitivos). Light fare will follow. Garage doors open up to a 12-seat bar, lined with a glitzy champagne display case.
The rooftop is projected to operate all day on Saturday and Sunday, and open for happy hour and dinner daily. The third floor also features a 60-seat private dining room — complete with its own kitchen next door — with full audio and visual capabilities.
“You can host anything from a board meeting to a bar mitzvah,” he says.
The 150-seat restaurant piece, inspired by coastal restaurants found in Italy’s southern region of Puglia, will follow a few weeks later with limited reservations for about 60 a night to start. The 90-seat main dining room is flanked by a 44-seat outdoor patio and 12-seat private dining room overlooking the water.
Expects lots of surf and turf options on the a la carte menu, like grilled fish and octopus, pastas, and “big cuts of meat” like steak florentine and a whole rack of lamb, he says. Diners can whet their palates via cured meat boards and a couple types of mozzarella.
“We’re going to let the table have a good time,” he says.
The restaurant is projected to be open from 5 p.m to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday to Sunday, with lunch entering the mix later.
As for his next venture, Stefanelli’s going Greek. He says construction is slated to start in early 2019 on the new restaurant he's planning for Fannie Mae’s new headquarters (1100 15th Street NW), shooting for a late summer opening.
“We set it up that way so there’s a good year apart on both projects opening so that gives time to fine tune everything at the Wharf,” says Stefanelli.
Stefanelli, who’s half Italian and half Greek, plans to feature lesser-known regions and wines of Greece at the massive 12,000-square-foot eatery.
Scroll on for a glance of what Officina will look like: