The new eatery (601 2nd Street NE), slated to debut in early October, will be called Duet. Eater has learned its new owner is Atul Bhola, who’s behind D.C.’s critically acclaimed Indian chain Masala Art.
The quaint two-story restaurant went dark in early August after nearly 10 years of keeping nearby travelers full from Italian food.
Bhola’s keeping its longtime Italian theme alive to appease longtime regulars, but he also plans to add a few Indian dishes to the menu. Toscana Cafe’s Italian-inspired lunch and dinner menu largely included paninis, pizzas, pastas, and salads.
The restaurant is also expected to be packed with lots of authentic Indian art. He’s currently bidding on several authentic artifacts across the globe that will live on inside Duet as decor, he tells Eater. He says he was attracted to the restaurant’s existing patio, as neither of his two Masala Art locations in Tenleytown or Southwest have one.
“I wanted something in a neighborhood that was up-and-coming and a place where there was lunch and dinner business,” he says. “It’s nice and small and beautiful, kind of a townhome situation with an upstairs private dining room.”
The worn-in space looks much like an Italian grandmother’s aging house; its facade got a facelift over the past few years, but its interior has largely stayed the same. A family from Tuscany originally opened Toscana, and it’s switched ownership at least once over its decade-long run.
He’s not doing a full-blown renovation, but rather sprucing up the space via a new paint job and refurbishing its hardwood flooring in the dining areas, as well as modernizing the kitchen.
“We are bringing it up to date,” he says.