Logan Circle’s chic new Dolce Vita takes diners on fabulous European vacations


Logan Circle just got a glamorous destination for Mediterranean coast favorites like Deluxe Iberian Ham, Beef Souvlaki, Chicken Tagine, Orzo Risotto, and Mint Spritz.

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

“We try to bring the best from each country and its cuisine,” Lahlou told Eater.

The chicken roulade (harissa yogurt, chicken mousse, pine nuts and apricot jam) is topped with a pastilla cigar.
Laura Chase de Formigny / Dolce Vita

A starter of raw meze at Dolce Vita.

Quality tuna sashimi with Moroccan spices, harissa yogurt and fish roe pearls.
Laura Chase de Formigny / Dolce Vita

As a child, Lahlou traveled extensively across Europe with his French-born mother and Moroccan father, and has long wanted to bring a taste of his heritage to DC. The Lahlou Restaurant Group town empire includes Lupo Verde Osteria in the Palisades, Lupo Marino on the Quayside, and Tunnicliff’s Tavern on Capitol Hill.

Bomba de papa (potato, manchego cheese, serrano ham, béchamel, frieze, salmon eggs).
Laura Chase de Formigny / Dolce Vita

At Dolce Vita, diners can deposit $ 45 to sample four-ounce servings of Spain’s premier pork. Known as jamón ibérico de bellota, the high-browed ham sliced ​​next to the table features white ribbons of fat that flow between its dark red meat.

Lahlou Executive Chef Juan Olivera worked with Dolce Vita Executive Chef and Del Mar alumnus Elier Rodriguez to create a one-page menu divided into meze; salad and vegetarian; and the “wood-fired oven” headings.

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

A photo of the chefs in the open kitchen of Dolce Vita.

Chefs Juan Olivera and Elier Rodriguez prepare 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 on veal rinds, is finished with fermented garlic and Parmesan reggiano.
Laura Chase de Formigny / Dolce Vita

The common thread across the Mediterranean hopping menu is a wood-fired oven sitting prominently in the back, tasked with cooking whole meat and fish dishes ($ 28 to $ 65). A branzino flanked by tangy Moroccan herb chermoula is served with couscous and seasonal vegetables, while an oven-baked sea bream in a salt crust accompanies potatoes in olive oil and smoked paprika.

Unveiled under a glass dome, a 14-ounce Colorado lamb shank joins a swollen bed of grilled eggplant zaalouk, roasted rainbow carrots, prunes and mashed potatoes.
Laura Chase de Formigny / Dolce Vita

The design is an equally transporting experience, offering a visual tour of the Mediterranean through painted landscapes of idyllic coastal towns splashed onto its brick walls. Images of famous Italian comedian Toto and actress Sophia Loren welcome guests to a 150-seat dining room dotted with navy blue chairs and a large communal table for gathering friends at the bar. An elegant upstairs dining area covered with collages from fashion magazines adds 80 additional seats.

“We brought in a lot of Mediterranean style – lots of great rustic bricks, chandeliers and the wood-burning oven. All the finishes have been carefully thought out, ”he says.

The reception committee of Dolce Vita includes Italian celebrities Sophia Loren and Toto.
Laura Chase de Formigny / Dolce Vita

The cocktail and wine lists follow the lead of the menu, showing the love for spirits, fruits and grapes from the four countries and beyond.

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

Toto’s namesake cocktail naturally features Italian ingredients (Antica vermouth, Amaro Montenegro, tangerine, lemon and basil), as well as Tito’s as a playful riff on its name. The bitters of Peychaud also add an American touch to the Peppino Sorrentino cocktail, a tribute to Italy with Limoncello dell’Isola, lemon and prosecco. Fans of Spanish sangria can find white and red options.

Dolce Vita bar manager Daniel Omana does his job behind the bar.
Laura Chase de Formigny / Dolce Vita

Locally made dots of chlorophyll oil add a “speakeasy-esque” finish to the Toto cocktail, he says.
Laura Chase de Formigny / Dolce Vita

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

The Moroccan Spritzer is topped with a large sprig of mint.
Laura Chase de Formigny / Dolce Vita

Ghibellina regulars who cut pizza with scissors will hardly recognize its sophisticated replacement, which exudes European elegance out of the door.
Laura Chase de Formigny / Dolce Vita

Tripling on 14th Street NW was obvious to Lahlou.

“I call it DC’s Wall Street. The neighborhood is amazing and there is nothing like it here. We are killing four birds with one stone, ”he said.

The bar program also invites Lebanon to have fun and presents the aniseed arak from the neighboring country and reds from the Bekaa valley that appeal to everyone.

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

A huge wood-fired seafood platter at Dolce Vita.

Named after the coast of Athens, the abundant seafood platter “Piraeus Market Pick” arrives on a base of egg white and wavy salt.
Laura Chase de Formigny / Dolce Vita

A photo of the upstairs dining room at the Dolce Vita.

Pearly chandeliers and cut-out collages of iconic places and faces add a European touch to the upstairs dining area.
Laura Chase de Formigny / Dolce Vita


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