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A look at the dining room and open kitchen at Dolce Vita.
Dolce Vita’s dolled up dining room is a feast for the eyes, complete with colorful coastal vistas and views into an Italian tile-framed kitchen.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita

Logan Circle’s Chic New Dolce Vita Takes Diners on a Fabulous European Vacation

The team behind Lupo Verde and Pizzeria ups its game on the 14th Street NW strip

Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

Logan Circle just got a glamorous destination for coastal Mediterranean favorites like luxe iberico ham, beef souvlaki, chicken tagine, orzo risotto, and minty spritzes.

Dolce Vita kicked off dinner service last week in the high-profile space formerly known as happy hour hotspot Ghibellina (1610 14th Street NW). With a show-stopping new look and fusion menu that features flavors from four countries (Italy, Greece, Morocco, and Spain), Dolce Vita represents D.C. restaurateur Med Lahlou’s sixth and most ambitious project to date. While his nearby Lupo Verde and Lupo Pizzeria are all about Italian, Dolce Vita’s menu casts a much wider net across the Mediterranean.

“We’re trying to bring the best of each country and its cuisine,” Lahlou tells Eater.

A photo of chicken roulade on a white plate at Dolce Vita.
Chicken roulade (harissa yogurt, chicken mousse, pine nuts, and apricot jam) gets topped off with a pastilla cigar.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita
A raw meze starter at Dolce Vita.
Sashimi-grade tuna with Moroccan spices, harissa yogurt, and jewel beads of fish roe.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita

As a kid, Lahlou traveled extensively throughout Europe with his French-born mother and Moroccan father and has long wanted to bring a taste of his heritage to D.C. In addition to his 14th Street NW standby Lupo Verde and months-old Lupo Pizzeria next door, Lahlou Restaurant Group’s citywide empire includes Lupo Verde Osteria in the Palisades, Lupo Marino on the Wharf, and Tunnicliff’s Tavern on Capitol Hill.

bomba de papa (potato, manchego cheese, serrano ham, bechamel, frisee, salmon roe)
Bomba de papa (potato, manchego cheese, serrano ham, bechamel, frisee, salmon roe).
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita

At Dolce Vita, diners can drop $45 to sample four-ounce portions of Spain’s premiere pig. Known as jamón ibérico de bellota, the high-brow ham sliced tableside features white ribbons of fat running in between its deep-red meat.

Lahlou’s corporate executive chef Juan Olivera worked with Dolce Vita executive chef and Del Mar alum Elier Rodriguez to create a one-page menu split into meze; salad and vegetarian; and “from the wood-fired oven” sections.

Morocco’s fiery harissa chile paste makes appearances in raw tuna, potatoes, sardines, and cauliflower dishes. Spain’s beloved baby squid called chipirónes comes with nutty, mahogany-colored rice and egg yolk. Lamb croquettes with tzatziki cream are also a good way to start. Moussaka is the Greek answer to lasagna, comprised of ground lamb, eggplant, béchamel, and cinnamon. An octopus gnocchi lets Southern Italy’s spicy ‘nduja sausage shine.

A photo of the chefs in the open kitchen at Dolce Vita.
Chefs Juan Olivera and Elier Rodriguez preparing a sirloin carpaccio in the open kitchen.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita
A photo of raw steak carpaccio in front of a blue seat.
The raw meze, delicately placed atop veal rinds, is finished with fermented garlic and parmigiano reggiano.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita

The common denominator across the Mediterranean-hopping menu is a wood-fired oven sitting prominently in the back, charged with cooking meaty mains and whole fish ($28-$65). A branzino flanked with Morocco’s pungent herb chermoula comes with couscous and seasonal veggies, while a baked, salt-crusted dorade arrives alongside olive oil potatoes and smoked paprika.

Unveiled under a glass dome, a 14-ounce Colorado lamb shank joins a billowing bed of charred eggplant zaalouk, roasted rainbow carrots, prunes, and potato puree.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita

The design is an equally transportive experience, offering a visual tour of the Mediterranean via painted landscapes of idyllic coastal towns splashed across its brick walls. Images of Italy’s famous comedian Toto and actress Sophia Loren welcomes guests to a 150-seat dining room dotted with maritime blue chairs and a big communal table to gather friends at the bar. A stylish upstairs dining room covered in fashion magazine collages adds another 80 seats.

“We brought a lot of Mediterranean flair — a lot of great rustic brick, chandeliers and the wood burning oven. All the finishes have been thoroughly thought through,” he says.

Dolce Vita’s welcoming committee includes Italian celebrities Sophia Loren and Toto.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita

Cocktail and wine lists follow the menu’s lead, showing love for spirits, fruits, and grapes from all four countries and beyond.

“This cuisine we have here screams wine and dine all day long,” says Dolce Vita bar manager Daniel Omana.

Toto’s namesake cocktail naturally stars Italian ingredients (Antica vermouth, Amaro Montenegro, mandarin, lemon, and basil), plus Tito’s as a playful riff on his name. Peychaud’s bitters also adds an American touch to the Peppino Sorrentino cocktail, an homage to Italy with Limoncello dell’Isola, lemon, and prosecco. Spanish sangria fans can find white and red options.

Dolce Vita bar manager Daniel Omana doing his thing behind the bar.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita
Dots of chlorophyll oil made on-site adds a “speakeasy-esque” finish to the Toto cocktail, he says.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita

A Moroccan Spritzer is the ultimate fusion cocktail, built with Tanqueray, Aperol, Massaya arak, mandarin, prosecco, club soda, and mint syrup it makes on-site. “Mint is king in Morocco,” says Omana.

The Moroccan Spritzer is topped with a big mint sprig.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita
Ghibellina regulars who used to cut pizza with scissors will barely recognize its sophisticated replacement, which oozes European elegance out of the gate.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita

Tripling down on the 14th Street NW strip came as a no-brainer for Lahlou.

“I call it the Wall Street of D.C. The neighborhood is amazing and there’s nothing like this here. We kill four birds with one stone,” he says.

The bar program invites Lebanon to join in on the fun, too, and showcases the neighboring country’s anise-flavored arak and crowd-pleasing Bekaa Valley reds.

The 150-bottle wine list leaves room for big-name Napa labels like Stag’s Leap and Silver Oak. The sprawling spirits wall behind the 19-seat bar also sneaks in unexpected gems like aged rums, rare agaves and vodkas, and single-malt scotches, notes Omana.

A huge wood-fired seafood platter at Dolce Vita.
Named after the Athens coastline, the abundant “Piraeus Market Pick” seafood platter arrives atop a wavy egg white and salt base.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita
A picture of the upstairs dining room at Dolce Vita.
Pearly chandeliers and collage cut-outs of iconic places and faces add European flair to the upstairs dining room.
Laura Chase de Formigny/Dolce Vita
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