Peter Serpico, the Philadelphia-based chef who refined his noodle-making skills within David Chang’s Momofuku empire before partnering with hospitality magnate Stephen Starr on his own acclaimed restaurant, has set up a “kinda Korean,” delivery-only kitchen in D.C. that offers bibimbap, twice-fried chicken wings with a chile glaze, and beef and radish soup.
Serpico, the 7-year-old fancy fixture in Philly, pivoted to a casual takeout spot called Pete’s Place in October. Starting Tuesday, December 8, Pete’s Place will be available in D.C. as a daily, delivery-only dinner operation based out out of Starr’s upscale tavern St. Anselm in the Union Market district.
Customers can order online or through Caviar, DoorDash, and GrubHub, with a delivery radius dictated by its third-party partners. Pete’s Place opens from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
“It’s an abbreviated version of what we do in Philly,” Serpico says. “We want to get our feet wet then grow into it [and] keep the ‘soul’ the same but we don’t want recipes to be 100 percent the same.”
Serpico’s says his biggest critic is his 5-year-old daughter, so the menu at Pete’s Place is designed to meet her tastes.
“It’s based on stuff she likes to eat — pretty straightforward and nothing too ‘chef-y’ — things that taste good and are seasoned well,” Serpico says. “A lot of preserved things that are nourishing and delicious.”
The twice-fried jumbo chicken wings are a Serpico original. The sharable, seven-piece order came on and off the Pete’s Place menu and will eventually be available whenever Serpico reopens.
“Now that we are a more casual restaurant, we can serve those and have demand for those,” he says.
The D.C. ghost kitchen marks a homecoming of sorts for Serpico, who was born in South Korea, adopted by an American family as a 2-year-old, and raised in Laurel, Maryland. After attending culinary school in Baltimore, he worked as sous chef at Chang’s original Momofuku Noodle Shop in the East Village in 2006 before moving on to open Momofuku Ssam, Momofuku Ko, Ma Peche, and Momofuku Sydney as the brand’s culinary director. In 2009 he was part of the team that won a James Beard award for Best New Restaurant at Momofuku Ko.
Pete’s Place represents a mishmash of his native culture and stateside upbringing — a similar mantra that Chinese-American chef Tim Ma is following at his casual new takeout venture in Mt. Vernon Triangle.
At Pete’s Place, noodles and other mains cost $16 to $18, and sides like spicy soy pickled cucumbers and daikon, potato salad with kimchi relish, and fried cauliflower with chile glaze are $4 to $12.
A deconstructed, Japanese-style dish of chilled tsukemen noodles can be dipped into a concentrated kimchi dipping sauce, joined by pork shoulder, seaweed, and white sesame.
For a personalized touch, QR code-enabled video tutorials featuring Serpico and his daughter show customers how to assemble orders that are affixed with sticker logos of squiggly “noodle men” holding chopsticks.
“We did a good job with [hospitality] at Serpico and are trying to capture that with takeout food and make it special,” he says.
Another brothy option combines wavy ramen noodles with pulled chicken, miso, soy, scallion, slow cooked garlic, and shredded carrots.
Outfitted with a prep kitchen that’s vacant at night, St. Anselm made more sense as a temporary home than Starr’s original D.C. go-to, Le Diplomate. In Philadelphia, Pete’s Place also offers takeout, but he says that’s because Serpico enjoys a longtime neighborhood following. Pete’s Place could evolve into a takeout operation at St. Anselm, too, Serpico says.
The Philly version doesn’t offer any alcohol due to the city’s murky to-go laws, but D.C. customers can expect to find soju, cocktails, and beers on the menu soon.
The ghost kitchen’s menu is expected to grow in both D.C., but there are no plans to open a standalone restaurant yet.
“We want to serve our first bowl of ramen before making those decisions,” Serpico says. “We are just doing what we can right now — there’s no long term plan or goal. Right now we’re just trying to stay busy and keep people employed.”