Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has found himself embraced by the local D.C. restaurant community before — Shaw’s Capo Italian Deli paid tribute to the rising icon by creating the “Fauci Pouchy,” a line of frozen cocktails. Turns out the feeling is mutual — Fauci is an ardent supporter of the city’s restaurants, which he’s been patronizing through takeout orders.
Fauci recently told CNN that he orders from local restaurants several times a week. “I feel badly about restaurants losing business,” he said. “And I feel it’s almost a neighborly obligation to keep neighborhood restaurants afloat.” For the restaurant-obsessed in D.C., a question immediately follows — which restaurants?
Eater reached out to Fauci’s office at the National Institution of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to see if he would share which restaurants are currently in his takeout rotation. A representative eventually said he was unavailable for comment, so Eater did some detective work.
Given the fact that the Faucis reside in the Wesley Heights area of D.C. (at one point, grateful neighbors were decorating the neighborhood with “Thank You, Dr. Fauci” signs), a natural first place to suspect is longtime neighborhood hangout Chef Geoff’s, the original location of which is on New Mexico Ave. NW. And sure enough, chef Geoff Tracy tells Eater the Faucis have been regulars at his restaurant for close to 20 years (he spoke to USA Today about their loyalty to the restaurant back in May as well).
Before COVID, the couple would dine at the bar weekly. “He’s a burger and beer guy,” Tracy told Eater, describing the pair as “truly one of the nicest couples he’s ever met.” Since the pandemic, the Faucis have shifted to exclusively ordering takeout from the restaurant. Tracy got the chance to chat with them himself back in September, and he says the couple orders from them 3-4 times each month.
Right in the same development as Chef Geoff’s is beloved neighborhood butcher and sandwich shop Wagshal’s. Owner Bill Fuchs confirms that Fauci comes into the shop regularly. But is he a brisket guy or a corned beef connoisseur? We’re waiting on further details.
In the CNN article, Fauci says that his favorite meal with his wife is pasta and a glass of wine. That means nearby Italian restaurants become likely suspects as Fauci faves, including pizza and small plates standard-bearer 2Amys and retro destination I’m Eddie Cano in Chevy Chase. CEO for the latter Carolyn Papetti said they can’t claim the public official as a customer, and she thinks they’d know if he’d been in. “He’s one of the most recognizable men right now, even with his mask,” she said. 2Amys owner Peter Pastan isn’t aware of any business from him, either.
But Italian restaurant Al Dente is in the same shopping center as Chef Geoff’s and Wagshal’s — do they get Fauci’s noodle business? We have a winner — a spokesperson confirms that Fauci has ordered the restaurant’s fettuccine alla bolognese to go.
The Faucis also got a pasta fix over at Fabio Trabocchi’s Sfoglina Van Ness “several times since the start of the pandemic,” says a spokesperson. The couple’s carb-centric carryout orders from the upscale Italian mainstay have included everything from barbecue pork rib tortellini to potato gnocchi.
Pizza is a natural takeout option for any diner, and the Faucis are apparently no exception — a spokesperson for Pizzeria Paradiso’s Spring Valley location says he’s been in to pick up take-out “multiple times throughout the duration of the pandemic.” He’s also made multiple to-go trips to Millie’s, the Nantucket seafood spot next door, according to a spokesperson. There he’s ordered the “Rhode Island Avenue” grilled steak quesadilla on repeat visits, notes the rep, as well as its potstickers filled with shrimp and pork.
The Palisades neighborhood isn’t too far from Wesley Heights, which could help expand the Faucis’ takeout options further. Belgian gem Et Voila! isn’t getting any of their orders, though; chef Claudio Pirollo says he has no firsthand knowledge of any Fauci takeout orders; seafood-centric BlackSalt says the same, and a spokesperson for that neighborhood’s pasta purveyor, Lupo Verde, said they had no info to share.
When the Fauci Pouchy line of cocktails launched earlier this year, it ended up leading to a major boost in business for Capo Italian Deli. Maybe it’s time for a Chef Geoff burger or a bowl of fettuccine with Fauci’s name attached?
—Additional reporting by Gabe Hiatt