Dining Notes

Lupo Marino's Norcia pizza is crowned with salami, roasted peppers, San Marino tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.

Pizza and More at District Wharf
Pizza and Italian street food highlight the menu at Lupo Marino, a District Wharf recent arrival. The newcomer is the creation of Med Lahlou, the French restaurateur who brought us Tunnicliff’s (near Eastern Market), Station 4 in Southwest and other DC restaurants. Along with executive chef/partner Matteo Venini and Antonio Matarazzo, Lahlou  unveiled Lupo Marino this past spring.

At the Wharf, Lupo Verde’s fritto misto is a basket of wonderfully crispy seafood.

Lupo’s artistic décor is dominated by an enormous wall photo of Italy’s gorgeous Amalfi Coast. The interior also represents an Italian market with shelves of boxed pasta, olive oils and vinegars. Some of Lupo’s gleaming, blond wood tables are communal. Emerging from the open kitchen—complete with a wood burning oven—are myriad thin-crusted pizzas.

Guests may build their own pies with various toppings, or choose from the menu. I went for the Norcia, adorned with salami, roasted peppers, San Marino tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, which melts nicely. Peter chose fritto misto, a basket crammed with fried calamari, heads-on shrimp and crunchy sardines, all escorted with a tangy green sauce. The pasta listing includes a unique take on the classic carbonara with pork and egg and pickled ramps. Gnocchi is napped with asparagus and wild mushrooms.

Located at 40 Pearl St. SE, Lupo Marino is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Call 202-506-1306 or visit www.lupomarinodc.com.

Kaliwa’s version of Korean bibambap is a mélange of mushrooms, rice, vegetables and pickles.

Asian Delight
So many enticing restaurants have arrived at the Wharf that we only recently explored Kaliwa. The Asian charmer is the brainchild of Eat Good Food Group co-founders Cathal Armstrong and his Philippine-born wife Meshelle Armstrong. Kaliwa, which means “left” in Tagalog (the Filipino language) opened in March. A trifecta of Filipino, Thai and Korean dishes appear on the eclectic menu.

Vibrant décor transports diners to South Asia. A colorful pig image hovers above the dramatic, Filipino-made wooden hostess stand. The azure-accented interior is festooned with handsome light fixtures and wicker furniture. Plants add to the tropical ambience.

Barbecued pork belly, a popular Filipino street snack, is equally popular at Kaliwa.

There is a list of fancy cocktails, beers and wine. Try small plates such as “Filipino Street” barbecued pork belly—a pair of succulent ribs enhanced with banana ketchup or the Thai offering of spicy sautéed green beans or vegetarian bibambap, a generous mix of mushrooms, rice, veggies and pickles.  Sizzling atop chef de cuisine Paolo Dungca’s wood-burning grill are marinated fish and chicken kebabs. Other chefs are stir-frying pork, meat, and vegetables on woks. Lip-tingling curries, pork, shrimp-filled lumpia and crispy whole fish garner high marks. Coming soon if not already: A kamayan, a Filipino feast presented on banana leaves to be enjoyed sans silverware.

Located at 751 Wharf St. SW, Kaliwa is open daily for lunch and dinner. Call 202-516-4739 or visitwww.kaliwadc.com.

On July 4, first-time restaurateur Brinna Keefe plans to unveil Toastique Gourmet Toast and Juice Bar. You’ll find it at 764 Maine St. SW, around the corner from Lupo Marino. Until millennials discovered avocado toast, we didn’t consider toast “gourmet.” Now, this childhood breakfast staple is all grown up, venturing far beyond avocado. Keefe will slather gourmet goodies like ricotta, honey, berries and the like on thick, crunchy bread.

Patrons pair fancy toast with various healthy juices and other beverages.  Toastique will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Goodby Jenny’s
Not all Wharf news is good. Jenny’s Fusion Grill, which dished out affordable Asian food for 40 years, was slated for closure June 30. Over the decades, Jenny’s had several homes: Waterside Mall, upstairs at the Capital Yacht Club, and the Channel Inn. Southwest neighbors were trying to save Jenny’s, but things didn’t look good. The building will probably be razed to make room for the Wharf’s Phase 2. Peter and I will miss Jenny’s, where we enjoyed many pleasant meals.

California Here We Come!
Barracks Row’s ChiKo, named Best New Restaurant at the RAMMYs (see last Dining Notes item), is heading West. Co-founder Drew Kim plans to unveil his beachfront spinoff later this summer in Encinitas, California.

The West Coast ChiKo menu will be similar to the Barracks Row lineup, with chilled acorn noodles, Korean-style chicken wings and furikake-spiced brisket. But California customers will probably have more seafood and vegetable options. Chefs Danny Lee and Scott Drewno will travel back and forth to help with the opening and to train the kitchen staff. Kim, who lives on the West Coast, will handle day-to-day operations.

The banh mi (Vietnamese-style sub) is a $10 lunchtime favorite at Chloe.

Lunch in the Yards
Meanwhile, near Nationals Park, Chloe, the brainchild of Chef Haidar Karoum, opened in January. Named after his eldest niece, Chloe reflects Karoum’s Lebanese roots and extensive travels. On a steamy Friday, we sampled his weekday $10 “Test Kitchen” lunch, served in the bar area and patio. (It’s also available on-line for carryout.) Thanks to Karoum’s Southeast Asian explorations, Vietnamese items appear on the limited mid-day menu.

Perched at a tall communal table where our helpful server provided us with comfortable chairs, we perused the brief listing. I chose banh mi—a toasted roll packed with tasty roast pork, pickled daikon, shredded carrots, and cucumber. The Mediterranean hero was stacked with falafel, caramelized cauliflower and pickles. Harisa, the Middle Eastern dip, added zip. Rounding out our meal was a paper bag of addictive, Old Bay potato chips. From the short drink list I chose a lovely cotes-du-Rhone rose.

Lunch for two came to $35.50 before tip.

Located in Arris, at 1331 Fourth St. SE, Chloe is open for dinner nightly. The weekday lunch is served Tuesday-Friday from 11 to 2, plus weekend brunch. Call 202-313-7007 or visit www.restaurantchloe.com.

Market Watch
Union Market has added a crepere, Petite Loulou, to its array of high-end food options. The newcomer, hatched by Fiola alum Stefano Frigerio, offers about a dozen varieties of crepes. Sweet options include apricot jam with whipped cream; strawberries and Nutella; honey & almonds. Savory: ham & brie; spinach, egg & cheese; and heartier duck a l’orange; beef bourguignon. Petite LouLou also dispenses hors d’oeuvres and dressed-up sandwiches like croque monsieur and croquet au truffle. To drink: frozen Champagne cocktails. Union Market is closed Mondays.

Watch this Space
Near Eastern Market, the ever-growing Hine Project will welcome the latest offshoot of Trickling Springs Creamery. Look for the 800-foot shop in the 700 block of Pennsylvania Ave. SE later this summer.  Based in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the Creamery will dispense organic, non-GMO milkshakes, ice cream, milk; yogurt; cheese and more.

RAMMY Winners
Congrats to restaurants around Capitol Hill who took top honors at the 36th annual RAMMY Awards. Winners were announced June 10 at a black tie gala at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The envelope, please:

  • Best New Restaurant of the Year: ChiKo (Barracks Row)
  • Upscale Brunch: Osteria Morini
  • Casual Brunch: Ambar Capitol Hill (Barracks Row)
  • Casual Restaurant: Ivy City Smokehouse Tavern (Ivy City)
  • Restaurateur: Ari Gejdenson, Mindful Restaurants (various locations)
  • Formal Fine Dining Restaurant: Masseria

For more information visit therammys.org or email therammys@ramw.org.