James Beard Award-winning chef Michael White and partner Ahmass Fakahany hope to open their second D.C. restaurant in Mount Vernon Triangle this April.
Nicoletta Italian Kitchen — a completely new brand under their Altamarea Group umbrella of restaurants — will go in the base of the shiny new headquarters of the D.C. Bar association (901 4th Street NW).
White and Fakahany’s prolific restaurant group runs 15 spots worldwide, including Michelin-starred Italian seafood spot Marea and glitzy French brasserie Vaucluse. The brand’s first D.C. location, Osteria Morini, arrived in Navy Yard in 2013.
The new Nicoletta in D.C. is modeled after an all-day Italian “piazza,” or central plaza. It will include an interior coffee shop, called Brew’d, that’s designed to perk up guests with carbs and caffeine during the day. The whole space is 4,000 square feet, including a patio and the kitchen.
“Those piazzas play home to the neighborhood eateries where residents gather and the neighborhood spirit is strong and celebrated,” says White, who lived and cooked in Italy for decades.
Nicoletta utilizes hand-tossed doughs that go through a three-day fermentation to create a rich flavor, but pies will only be a fraction of the focus at their latest D.C. restaurant. The still in-the-works menu will be filled out by snacks (arancini, calabrian chile clams, and veggie fritto misto), chicken and eggplant Parmesan, and various vehicles for meatballs.
Nicoletta Italian Kitchen is an evolution of its existing NYC pizzeria brand, simply dubbed Nicoletta (similar to how Osteria Morini was birthed from Upper East Side’s dressed-up Italian darling Ristorante Morini). White is still holding on hopes to bring a Nicoletta to D.C.; talk of bringing the casual build-your-own pie shop to D.C. date back to 2013.
The original plan was to operate the pizza joint out of a retail kiosk in Navy Yard. That site ended up becoming a waterfront offshoot of Osteria Morini instead. Eater has learned the team is now working on opening a Nicoletta here soon.
New York Times critic Pete Wells panned the shop in 2012, and Nicoletta’s East Village operation went dark in December. That prompted White to announce plans to reinvent the pizzeria as a fast-casual chain across NYC with a focus on takeout and delivery. In its current form, Nicoletta has other locations in Bernardsville, New Jersey; at a mall stall in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; and inside the New York Mets’ Citi Field.