Chef Ryan Gordon has enjoyed 14 years of success at Granville Moore’s on the strength of Moules-frites, but broth-filled bowls of mussels don’t make sense to serve as long as the novel coronavirus crisis leads customers to prioritize takeout and delivery. So Gordon is adapting dramatically. Starting Tuesday, May 26, the formerly Belgian restaurant at 1238 H Street NE will offer a remade menu of Italian comfort foods that replicate the Italian-American red sauce joints he admired while growing up around New Jersey.
“I love that kind of style,” he says. “Good, hearty food you can enjoy and share with the family. Old-school Italian.”
Now dubbed GM’s Pasta Place, the restaurant will utilize a newly installed takeout window to hand customers seafood tagliatelle, spaghetti and meatballs, stuffed shells, and a broccolini and spinach gnocchi. The idea is to become a “red-and-white checkered table” kind of place, Gordon says.
Starters include burrata caprese salad, calamari, smoked mozzarella, and pepperoni roll bites made with pizza dough. For dessert, there’s tiramisu and cannoli. There will also be to-go wines, local beers, and a blood orange Negroni.
Here’s a first look at the menu:
The restaurant will open Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with pickup and delivery orders handled through GrubHub and Uber Eats. Customers who call in takeout directly get a 15 percent discount.
When D.C. adopted a dine-in ban in mid-March, Gordon realized he’d have to move away from mussels.
“We decided on comfort food,” he says. “H Street doesn’t have a good pasta place, so why don’t we do that?”
Pursuit Wine Bar has been a notable exception, but the strip does lack a traditional Italian-American place.
The idea to cook Italian was already on Gordon’s radar. He tested a pasta pop-up inside Granville Moore’s just before the pandemic and reports he made nearly five times as much as he would on normal night.
After securing a Paycheck Protection Program loan and D.C. microgrant, the restaurant was able to purchase new stock to jumpstart the pasta experiment. Government funding was also used to update the facade to provide a “safe, contactless service,” and pay the staff, Gordon says.
He says he’ll consider pivoting back to the venue’s Belgian roots depending on how it performs as a pasta place.
Meanwhile, sister spot the Queen Vic has maintained a takeout operation for British pub fare during the pandemic, relying on a core base of regulars. Gordon has also kept the kitchen busy as a lead volunteer at Hook Hall’s relief center for restaurant workers in Park View.