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Roberto's Back
December 20, 2013

Roberto's Back

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Chef Roberto Donna is re-establishing his downtown presence with the opening of Alba Osteria in Mount Vernon Triangle—just north of Chinatown—just in time for New Year's.

Many Washingtonians fondly remember Roberto's downtown outlet of yore, Galileo. For Alba, Roberto has reunited with chef Amy Brandwein, who will head up the kitchen, as Roberto will still be running the show at Al Dente, up near Tenleytown.

Owner Hakan Ilhan tells us that he's excited about Alba's potential, location-wise, because it gives them access to so many different audiences. The area already has a strong residential population, with more to come as nearby developments near completion. Proximity to Chinatown, Penn Quarter, and the forthcoming City Center will bring the office and hotel guest crowds. And Hakan thinks they're close enough to Verizon Center to draw some clientele from there. This once-desolate part of town is now looking like a pretty attractive site for restaurateurs.

The menu will focus on the cuisine from the Piemonte region of Italy, where Roberto hails from. Expect pastas and meat dishes with delicate, subtle sauces finished with a touch of butter rather than heavy, cream- or tomato-and-meat-based sauces. Piemonte is land-locked, so seafood isn't traditionally part of the cuisine, but Amy plans to run rotating fish specials. (It's feasible a few fish hopped their way to Piemonte.) Another departure from the traditional is the glowing, mosaic-tiled wood-burning pizza oven in the corner, which will burn at 900 degrees and serve up Neapolitan-style pizzas. The bar will offer four wines and 20 beers on tap, as well as a wide selection of wines by the glass and bottle, displayed throughout the restaurant. Alba will open for dinner on Dec. 30, and will be open New Year's Eve. Lunch and weekend brunch will be rolled out shortly thereafter.

Sneak Peek: Agua 301

Modern Mexican restaurant Agua 301 opens this Saturday in the Lumber Shed building at The Yards on the SE waterfront. The riverfront restaurant comes from the family behind Zest Bistro on Barracks Row: husband-and-wife Steve and Amanda Briggs and Steve's stepfather, former Majority and Minority Whip David Bonior (D-MI). The family has tapped Chef Antonio Burrell, formerly of Masa 14 and El Centro, to lead the culinary team. Above, Amanda and Antonio welcome us in.

Antonio tells us he enjoys putting American twists on Mexican dishes. For instance, his beef barbacoa flautas are served with a queso fundido dip, making the dish reminiscent of a Philly cheesesteak. The flautas will be on the bocaditos—little bites— section of the menu, alongside empanadas, guacamole, and the like. Entrees will include dishes like pan-seared black bass and roasted adobo chicken, and tacos will feature creative fillings like carne asada con kimchi. Nearly every seat in the restaurant has a view of the river thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows, and come spring there will be a patio out front.

In addition to beer, wine, and 12 signature cocktails, the bar will be serving up peach sangria and lime margaritas, both of which will be frozen slushie-style. (And yes, you can get them swirled.) And did we mention the 60 tequilas and mezcals? Happy hour will be from 3:30 to 7, seven days a week. Agua 301 opens with dinner service this Saturday, and will roll out lunch on Dec. 28. Brunch will debut New Year's Day and will be available every weekend afterwards; Antonio assures us the brunch menu will feature dishes "perfect for soaking up a hangover."

The Peruvian Brothers Keep On Truckin'

The line starts behind us: The Peruvian Brothers (Giuseppe and Mario Lanzone) are bringing their delectable "Comida Criolla" Peruvian delights to the DC streets in a food truck they own and operate. We already know their food skills are amazing, but we suspect their driving skills are impeccable, being that Giuseppe is a two-time Olympic athlete in competitive rowing. And their specialties are the driving force behind their success: sandwiches and empanadas featuring chicharron (pork tenderloin), asado (beef), and chicken (delicious), as well as vegetarian options. To sample their authentic Peruvian fare, follow the Peruvian Brothers truck via @PeruBrothers and Facebook. They're available for catering and private events. We're hot on their trail! For more info on our sponsors, please visit www.peruvianbrothers.com.

Shaw's Quintuple Ribbon-Cutting

Eat The Rich Ribbon Cutting
The warp-speed gentrification of Shaw continued this week with a quintuple ribbon cutting (someone call Guinness!) featuring Mayor Gray and Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham. The following five spots are now officially open for business (or will be by the weekend).

Eat the Rich & Southern Efficiency - 1839 & 1841 7th St. NW. These two spots will bring Derek Brown's total of Shaw establishments up to four (after Passenger/Columbia Room and Mockingbird Hill). Eat the Rich features Rappahannock oysters and seafood from the Chesapeake to soak up his award-winning beverages. With diner-meets-whiskey bar Southern Efficiency opening Saturday next door, we'd say Derek's well on his way to being crowned King of Shaw. (Your move, Prince of Petworth.)

Dunya - 801 Florida Ave NW. This spacious, three-story Mediterranean-meets-New-American restaurant will feature a roof deck come spring.

All Souls Bar - 725 T. Street NW. A cozy, 33-seat neighborhood bar from David Batista, formerly of Jaleo and Zaytinya.

Right Proper Brewing Company - 624 T St. NW. This 110-seat microbrewery and pub is already getting raves on Yelp.

Email Alia.Khan@bisnow.com with tips, suggestions, and story ideas. Follow Dining Bisnow on Facebook and Twitter!

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We're taking a break for the holidays—see you in the new year!

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