After impressing Capitol Hill with old-school chicken Parm, fluffy tiramisu, and well-made martinis for $10, the team behind essential Italian-American restaurant Caruso’s Grocery will add another outpost at North Bethesda’s Pike & Rose complex this fall.
The incoming location inside six-year-old pub Owen’s Ordinary builds upon a partnership with Neighborhood Restaurant Group founder Michael Babin, whose Roost food hall welcomed Caruso’s Grocery in spring 2021. Matt Adler’s decidedly unmodern tribute to classic red sauce joints delivers dishes heavy on nostalgia, quality ingredients, and technique, with pastas like gnocchi, fettuccine, ravioli, and penne alla vodka with peas and prosciutto all made on-site.
The back two-thirds of the NRG space will flip into a 90-seat edition of Caruso’s with a menu full of familiar D.C. favorites (11820 Trade St, North Bethesda, Md.).
Carnivores will have more options in Maryland, with additions like chicken Scarpariello with sausage and peppers and veal saltimbocca, plus prime steaks and chops served with marsala-braised mushrooms, balsamic onions, and roasted garlic butter.
Its sophomore digs will be tweaked to resemble the hospitable original, which features slightly-faded red banquettes and vintage photos across a cozy dining room. The bar side of Owen’s Ordinary will remain as is, as well as the patio space out front, but the name will change to Owen’s Tavern and Garden.
Adler will also contribute comfort food offerings to the revised tavern side, which shares a kitchen with Caruso’s. Adler’s childhood cravings for French bread pizza spark a selection of thick-cut garlic carbs topped with roasted wild mushrooms, truffle and parmesan or thick cut pepperoni, spicy honey and basil. Other ideas for the tavern menu include Calabrian chili and honey-glazed chicken wings and a hefty, pub-style burger.
Caruso’s reliable list of $10 cocktails like a Manhattan with an amaretto rinse by Nick Farrell will join a deep list of affordable wines by the glass, carafe, and bottles curated by Erin Dudley.
On the tavern side, NRG’s Greg Engert will continue to offer 50 beers on tap and Farrell will add more frozen cocktails for summer and spiked hot options for the heated garden side during the winter.
Adler says he’s excited to bring Bethesda the beloved Italian nachos his dad used to make at Scoozi, the red sauce joint north of New York City where Adler worked the line as a teenager and throughout culinary school. Fresh pasta sheets cut into triangles get fried and topped with its four-cheese sauce, sauteed spinach, crumbled sausage, basil marinated tomatoes, and black olives.
“I’ve wanted to recreate this dish for a while now, but I didn’t think the first Caruso’s was the right place for it,” he says.
The Pike & Rose complex continues to up its reputation as a dining complex, with recent additions from SoCal seafood shack Hello Betty, carb counter Call Your Mother, and D.C. fried chicken chain Roaming Rooster.