The Latest Dish
John Fulchino of Johnny’s Half Shell and Ann Cashion of Taqueria Nacionale (next door) have come out winners, taking over the space at 1407 T St., NW. It was supposed to be the Post Office Bistro, operated by a New York company, but instead it will become a much bigger Taqueria Nacional. The old post office façade will remain, and the large space will be divided into three areas inside. It will offer favorites – authentic tacos, juices made fresh daily and tasty margaritas. The current Taqueria Nacional, next to Johnny’s Half Shell, will now become a take-out place for Fulchino’s food. It should be open by the time you read this. Chef Update: Juan Natal has been named executive chef of 14K Restaurant & Lounge in the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel at 14th & K Streets, NW. Previously, he worked at Hawks Cay Resort and Villas in Duck Key, Fla. He was also executive chef for Pienza Italian Market at the Gaylord National Hotel…. Tony Conte has been promoted to group executive chef of Oval Room & 701 Restaurant. His has two new chefs de cuisine: Lucas Sousa will work with Conte at 701, and James Barton is at the Oval Room. Barton and Sousa graduated from the CIA in Hyde Park, N.Y. Correction (sort of): Without the “…” it’s hard to separate the Quick Hits so please know that the new Sprig & Sprout in Glover Park is a Pho and Vietnamese sandwich shop. It is not a Mexican restaurant, which was in reference to the next item in my October column about Riscatta. America will always love hamburgers. Burger 21, a new fast-casual concept from Tampa-based Front Burner Brands, which also brought us the Melting Pot Restaurants, has signed franchisees to open four new Burger 21s in Fairfax and Montgomery counties. The franchisees: Joseph Yu, Bubuhai, Ray and Nick Patel, will develop the local outlets in Alexandria, Tysons Corner, Fair Lakes and Rockville. They know the franchise biz, as they also have Dunkin’ Brands franchises. There are 10 franchised restaurants in development along the East Coast. Recent Openings: TAAN is now open in Adams Morgan… Hanoi House, a new Vietnamese concept in the U Street Corridor just opened where Blackbyrd Warehouse used to be. James Claudio, executive chef of Marvin, draws from the experience and talent of his Vietnamese grandmother, Lap Claudio, to bring a more extensive menu of authentic Vietnamese dishes. Brendan Murphy of the Gibson, created the cocktail menu, which incorporates Vietnamese influences. Typically, a restaurant opens first locally, then enters the world of airport food service – but not this time. Vino Volo, a wine bar that opened its first location at Dulles in 2005, recently opened a wine lounge at Bethesda Row, its first location not at an airport. San Francisco-based Vino Volo or “wine flight” in Italian, operates in 14 airports, including Dulles and BWI/Marshall Airport. That’s not all. Vino Volo will open its second location not at an airport in Tysons Corner in early 2013. Restaurateurs Paul Stratmeyer and David Levitt are on a roll. They just opened Black Lime Café, a Mediterranean concept, in Crystal City, and plan to open more Black Lime Cafés in the Baltimore-Washington area within the next five years. Levitt co-owned Tenderjacks in Leesburg; he and Stratmeyer bought the restaurant from Levitt’s partners. They converted Tenderjacks into DelMarVa’s Taphouse, which features locally crafted beer and wine. There are plans to open a Taphouse in Sterling next month, with others coming to Arlington and Quantico next year. The duo also operates DelMarVa’s Southern Café, a traditional Southern restaurant, which has one location in Baltimore that opened earlier this year. Potomac Mills is expanding. It will soon take over all of Prince William County (just kidding…) The Cheesecake Factory has recently opened (its 12th location in the Baltimore/Washington area), the first of several new sit-down dining choices at Potomac Mills on its redeveloped south side. Bahama Breeze is scheduled to open its first Washington-area location at Potomac Mills later this year. Bobby Flay’s Bobby’s Burger Palace is also slated to open early next year. Ch-Ch-Changes: Even though Art and Soul in the Liaison Hotel is not very old, it is closing immediately following January’s inauguration for a makeover that will transform the modern interior into something better suited to the restaurant’s farm-to-table southern menu. It is slated to re-open in mid-February. The change won’t affect the kitchen, which will continue to be manned by executive chef Wes Morton. Brickside Food & Drink is slated to open on Cordell Avenue in Bethesda where Bubby’s Deli used to be. Villa Mozart (Fairfax) chef-owner Andrea Pace will be in charge of the kitchen. His business partner, Brian Vasile, a co-owner of Grand Central in Adams Morgan, will serve as general manager of the 85-seat operation. The interior is described as “Prohibition.” Quick Hits: Gordon Biersch plans to open near Nationals Stadium on M St, SE, by the beginning of the 2013 season. They have five other locations in the metro area…Gypsy Sally’s Acoustic Tavern, has applied for a license to open in Georgetown at 3401 K St., NW. Opening Update: Frederik de Pue’s Azur on 405 8th St., NW, is slated to open by New Year’s Eve. The theme is European-style seafood. De Pue knows seafood, having cooked at the Michelin-rated Sea Grill in Brussels. Pastry chef Kieu-Linh Nguyen will make desserts. Jon Arroyo of vFounding Farmers is designing the cocktail menu. Tea is provided by Teaism. Beuchert’s Saloon on 623 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, will have five sections focusing on locally sourced vegetables, snacks, main courses called “Whole Meals,” side dishes and a dessert selection focusing on such retro treats as banana Foster Twinkies. The 47-seat restaurant is set to open Jan. 7.