Michael Schlow, the James Beard award-winning chef who owns a slew of popular restaurants across D.C. and Boston, has permanently closed coastal Italian-minded Casolare after more than four years of business in the Glover Park Hotel. That property has changed hands, so Schlow is repurposing the restaurant space as an American grill that serves coffee and sweets from executive pastry chef Alex Levin in the morning and staples such as steaks, burgers, and roast chicken for dinner.
Glover Park Grill (2505 Wisconsin Avenue NW) is expected to open later this month. Schlow says his goal is to create a “comfortable” and “approachable” neighborhood staple that will satisfy hotel customers and attract a base of regulars from surrounding areas like Georgetown and Cathedral Heights.
Schlow Restaurant Group, which owns throwback fine dining venue the Riggsby (temporarily closed) in Dupont Circle’s Carlyle hotel, hosted tryouts for chefs looking to lead the project. Hamilton Johnson, who recently left Asian-American shared plates place Emilie’s, won the job. The South Carolina native has specialized in Southern, Nordic, and Asian-American cooking at Vidalia, Honeysuckle, and American Son at the Eaton hotel.
“He was outstanding,” Schlow says of Johnson. “Organized, ready to go, timely, clean. The food was beautiful.”
Schlow says Johnson will have a lot of flexibility to create a menu, but Glover Park Grill won’t be “challenging anybody.” Johnson recently impressed Schlow with a version of butternut squash soup with apples, crispy sage, and a sassafras syrup that tasted like root beer.
Schlow says Glover Park Grill is investing money to “invigorate” the patio deck in front of the hotel. The 156-seat space at Casolare, which is full of terra cotta tiles, is getting a minor renovation, and socially distant indoor dining will be an option at the new grill.
In the District, SRG also operates Alta Strada and Nama sushi in Mt. Vernon Triangle and Tico near U Street NW. Schlow says putting people at ease is always a priority, but serving customers during the COVID-19 crisis makes it even more important. Comfort food is the order of the day, he says: “You know how much garlic bread and chicken Parm I’m selling right now?”