More details are emerging about Greek celebrity chef Argiro Barbarigou’s plans for her first U.S. restaurant, which will land in the West End along with an in-house bakery whipping up traditional desserts from her native country.
Barbarigou is scheduled to debut the new 5,000-square-foot venue at 1118 23rd Street NW later this year. She has partnered with Alex Alevras, the Greek restaurateur behind the fast-casual GRK Fresh Greek chain across New York City and D.C.
Dubbed the “First Lady of Greek Cuisine” back home, Barbarigou owns the wildly popular Papadakis restaurant, which began on the Aegean island of Paros, where she was born, and is now set the foothills of Mt. Lycabettus in Athens. She comes from a line of Greek restaurateurs that goes back to her grandparents.
All of the bread, pastries, and confections served at her new D.C. restaurant will be made on-site from an adjoining bakery and sweets shop complete with its own entrance and patio. A large exposed oven — an iconic feature of Grecian homes and kitchen — will have a starring role in the establishment, which will also feature a pick-up counter.
“I want D.C. to taste the same thing we taste — the food of my home,” Barbarigou says.
Most of the square footage will be devoted to the fine-dining restaurant, which will fit 100 to 120 people inside and up to 80 on its patio facing the back of the Ritz-Carlton. While Central Park has ritzy seafood spot Estiatorio Milos and San Francisco has Kokkari, D.C. has been missing a modern, high-end Greek destination until now.
The city will fill that void with Barbarigou’s project. Chef Nicholas Stefanelli’s forthcoming Greek restaurant, Philotimo, will add another into the mix next year.
Barbarigou, a cookbook author and TV personality, hopes to create a “very cozy” atmosphere celebrating Greece’s hospitable culture inside her new stateside venture. To create a vibe modeled after the comforts of home, she engaged OOAK Architects — a Sweden-based studio behind super stylish residential projects and urban villages across the globe.
A largely blue-and-white color scheme mimics the look of picturesque towns dotting coastal Greece.
“The ambiance of the space is going to show our islands, water, seas, and skies,” Alevras says.
The team isn’t disclosing the restaurant’s name or releasing renderings yet.
Barbarigou’s history in D.C includes consulting on the menu for Alfa Piehouse (1750 H Street NW) as well as cooking for Congress and President Bill Clinton.
“It’s a town I love very much. I have a lot of friends there,” she says, counting Daniel Boulud as one of her close culinary contacts.
She’s currently on an international exhibition tour and making several appearances back home as an ambassador for South Aegean European Region of Gastronomy.