Washington DC: Lupo Verde

Maybe locals and regulars like to keep this little secret to themselves, but I have to shout out that Lupo Verde is one of the best Italian spots in Washington, DC.  Right when you walk into Lupo Verde, you’ll feel at home – partly because this 14th street joint is actually an old rowhouse.  Décor is reminiscent of an old world Italian eatery with worn hardwood floors, exposed brick, wrought iron and wood barstools, and eclectic floral fabrics upholstering the wooden dining chairs upstairs.

I was fortunate enough to enjoy a brunch feast with the wife of executive chef and co-partner Domenico Apollaro.  Although she usually knows the menu inside and out, it changes with each season or special offering and she puts trust in her husband to bring out what she may like most.  I’m so so so glad that’s what we did for brunch.  From the seriously artistic presentation to the use of delicious house made sauces, jams, spreads and butters to enhance natural flavors in each dish, our spread was truly impressive.

We started with Tagliere di Frutta, a gorgeous board of flaky croissants + seasonal fresh fruit + house made butter, creamy chocolate hazelnut spread, and mixed berries jam.  A dust of powdered sugar was a beautiful finishing touch.  I was impressed from the start and Ms. Apollaro mentioned “this is just the start.”  Boy, was she right!

Spaghetti Zucchine e Salmone was our next dish, and WOW did it deliver.  The Opera Spaghetti was made in-house that morning (3am wake up anyone?!) mixed with salmon + zucchini + shaved frittata + garlic + parmigiano cream.  The shaved frittata added texture, cohesiveness, and flavor to the dish, and while it looks really creamy, the sauce lightly held everything together.

Although the next dish, Parmigiana di Patate, reminded me of cheesy potatoes, there was nothing basic about the flavors.  Scamorza is an Italian cow’s milk cheese that I’d never had before; it’s creamy, pleasantly sharp and perfectly balanced the flavors of the meats, potatoes, and leeks.  A definitely must-try!

I’ve never ever been a fan of standard eggs benedict, but the Benedette Uova were honestly on a different level.  The freshly baked, still warm olive-infused focaccia paired well with the meats (procuitto + crispy San Daniele) directly imported from Italy or cured in-house.  The basil drizzle and herbal hollandaise added moisture and creaminess to the dish.  I couldn’t let one bite go to waste.

Our last surprise is not yet offered on the menu, but may (and should) be very soon!  This Pistachio Semifreddo Truffle was half-cold (semifreddo), velvety, and sweet – like ice cream and frozen mousse.  The bittersweet cocoa powder dusting gave us the sense we were sharing a decadent truffle.

After speaking with Ms. Apollaro, this innovative meal shouldn’t have surprised me in the least.  Executive chef and co-partner Domenico Apollaro prides himself on his Italian culinary training and enjoys sharing his craft.  Whether it’s training pasta-making pros from scratch, or sharing his talents at exclusive art shows and local events, quite possibly nothing can surprise Ms. Apollaro about her husband anymore.  She is so proud of the way he rewards people through opportunity or training and embraces his passion for life and culture.

The trio behind Lupo Verdo has set plans to open a new shop in the Palisades neighborhood, offering coffee, pastries, ready-to-cook pastas for pick-up/cook at home, Italian culinary goods and kitchen wares, plus a full menu of delicious Italian food.  Plans to open a third DC-based location are still under wraps, but it is definitely on the horizon.

Chef Domenico Apollaro sent out a variety of dishes that I probably wouldn’t have chosen on my own.  And each dish delivered a new taste or concept that I was eager to experience.  Ms. Apollaro mentioned that her most requested dish from the executive chef is his ragu, offered in a couple variations on the dinner menu.  It’s definitely on the must-try list for my next (already planned) visit to Lupo Verde.

Lupo Verde (1401 T Street NW, Washington, DC // 202.827.4752)

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