One year after bringing coastal Italian vibes and Neapolitan cuisine to Columbia Heights, Napoli Pasta Bar just doubled its capacity by growing into the space upstairs. Now that it’s got roomier digs, Napoli plans to debut a new daytime cafe operation across both floors and patio starting around mid-June.
The second-story addition, dotted with 38 seafoam green and light grey chairs, went live last week to accommodate both private parties and overflow service during dinner and Sunday brunch.
Under a new daytime model, the Italian restaurant (2737 Sherman Avenue NW) plans to serve sandwiches, salads, a small selection of its pastas, and coffee starting at 10 a.m. before flipping for its regular dinner service at 4:30 p.m.
“People can hang out upstairs with their laptop or for a phone call,” says owner Antonio Ferraro.
The brick-lined second level was already built out and occupied by a nonprofit, which recently vacated.
“It was pretty easy — there was already an office here so it was pretty much done,” says Ferraro.
The first-time restaurant owner, who came to D.C. from Naples in 2006, sprinkled several authentic touches across Napoli’s new addition. Tables are covered with hand-painted tiles imported from the Amalfi Coast, featuring bright yellow lemon designs that remind diners where limoncello is made.
Other restaurants around town are also flipping floors into daytime operations to capitalize on traffic from remote workers. Chevy Chase’s The Avenue started using its third floor events space as a coworking cafe earlier this year.
Ferraro says buzzy places like Call Your Mother and Colony Club have shown the area is hungry for more daytime options. Napoli’s first year of business has also proven there’s enough neighborhood demand for house-made pastas, Italian wines, and Aperol spritzes to add another floor into the mix.
He envisions the addition getting lots of use during winter months.
“When the weather is good, no one wants to be inside,” he says.
Ferraro, an alum of Italian mainstays Café Milano and Lupo Verde, recently brought on board a to-be-named chef straight from Naples.
“We are trying to be as original as possible,” he says.
Expect rotating dishes to join the existing lineup of apps and pastas that have stayed put since day one. A new veggie lasagna features artichokes, smoked mozzarella, black olives, and bechamel sauce. One late spring starter features fresh salmon tartare, strawberries, mozzarella, and fresh mint.
Last year Napoli made Michelin’s 2019 Bib Gourmand list of more affordable restaurants “that offer excellent food at a reasonable price.”
Here’s a look at the May menu:
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