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Adams Morgan Gets a Place for Venetian Small Plates From Two Al Volo Partners

Retrobottega opened last weekend in the former Rosario space

Retrobottega slides into the former Rosario space on 18th Street NW.
Retrobottega slides into the former Rosario space on 18th Street NW.
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A new Italian restaurant showcasing small plates traditionally eaten in Venice opened in Adams Morgan last weekend.

Washington City Paper reports that Retrobottega (2435 18th Street NW) comes from two of the three partners behind the local Al Volo restaurants that also sell fresh pasta at Union Market and farmers markets around town. Rolando Frias and Matteo Catalani are making the cicchetti, the Italian equivalent of tapas that fortify standing drinkers at Venetian bars. Daniele Catalani, Matteo’s uncle and a founding chef at Al Volo, is reportedly not involved in the new project. Al Volo’s narrow osteria is just around the corner on Columbia Road NW.

At Retrobottega, WCP reports, cicchetti will include plentiful fried items (arancini, calamari, artichokes, polenta) as well as items such as halibut crudo and lamb arrosticini, an Italian kebab. There’s also sections of the menu for cheese, cured meats, salads, and larger entrees. The latter includes oxtail lasagna and a rabbit cacciatora made with tomatoes, green olives, mushrooms, and potatoes. Drinks include wines, selection of amaro, and cocktails such as a CaraMia (egg white, amaro, gin, lime, and coffee beans). Taleggio cheesecake is one of three desserts .

The opening marks the second time in the past couple years that the space will lean Italian. Pint Size Hospitality Group (Smoke & Barrel, Meridian Pint) opened Rosario as a cozy pasta place in the building in the spring of 2017. After just over a year, Rosario transformed into a taco restaurant under the same name. It closed late last year.

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