Santorini is calling D.C., and a transatlantic flight isn’t required. At Limani, the Wharf’s newest dining option arriving Wednesday, November 15, guests are transported to the glitzy Greek isles through classic Mediterranean fare and expansive waterfront views. The 16,000-square-foot scenic marvel situated in an over-water structure seats 600-plus on three levels — and claims newfound rights to the largest, full-service terrace at the Wharf (670 Wharf Street SW).
And while the Potomac River is no Aegean Sea, glass-enclosed Limani leverages D.C.’s booming Southwest Waterfront development to deliver a dining experience that puts Greek hospitality front and center. Its first two locations opened in New York City and Long Island, New York, followed by other East Coast arrivals in Boston and Charlotte, N.C. The white table-clothed D.C. edition makes five.
“The idea is, everything is simply done, it’s very traditionally Greek,” says Limani’s regional services director Kyriakos Curiacopoulos. “It’s bare bones, in reality. This is food that was cooked for thousands of years in the same exact way.”
Greeks, he explains, have very easy access to olives and lemons, which covers the dressing that’s used on many Greek dishes. And the star of the show is, of course, the seafood.
“It’s whatever they were pulling out of the Aegean, Mediterranean Sea: octopus, the fish, and charcoal grilling it,” Curiacopoulos says. “As long as you’ve got great raw ingredients, you’re in good shape. If you let the food speak for itself, everything kind of falls into place from there.”
The restaurant brings a refined approach to traditional Greek specialties such as the 4-pound branzino baked in sea salt, which serves four for $160.
“The uniqueness of Limani is our focus on seafood, specifically charcoal grilled whole fish,” says executive chef Lonnie Zoeller. “And the grilled octopus — it’s super tender, simple seasoning and garnish.”
At Limani, there are no deep fryers — three items on the menu are pan fried — and the kitchen houses nine round, rod-top charbroil grills. Butter is nowhere in sight; instead, only olive oil flown in from Greece is used generously across the menu.
“They’ve really introduced very fresh seafood and a different style of dining that hasn’t been around here in a while, I feel,” says general manager Michael Deery. “This is all predominantly a culinary menu that you would find in the Mediterranean.”
The drinks program features riffs on quintessential seaside refreshments, including a blood orange margarita, red or white sangria, and an Otto’s Spritz, made with Otto’s Athens vermouth, prosecco, club soda, and a twist. Wine enthusiasts can also enjoy a limited selection of Greek varietals.
The Mediterranean cuisine is clearly having a moment in D.C. Chef Nick Stefanelli recently reopened his luxe Greek restaurant Philotimo downtown, and Balos is scheduled to debut in Dupont in early December.
“The cuisine paired with the overall experience, waterfront view, tableside presentations, and attention to details in the service is a great combination,” Zoeller says. “I’ve always loved seafood and Greek cuisine. When I stepped into the space, something felt right.”
The sprawling restaurant is filled with elegant design touches that call to mind a European getaway, including a bar made from Greek marble, seafoam-hued booths, and faux olive trees.
“You walk in, you see the high ceilings, you see the decor, and then you get a little further into the restaurant and you have the view,” Curiacopoulos says. “It knocks it out of the park.”
—Tierney Plumb contributed to this report