Neighborhood Eats: Rasika West End, La Forchetta Opening, ShopHouse to Georgetown

by Rebecca Cooper

The lounge area at Rasika West End.

This week’s Neighborhood Eats is bringing the expansion — and reappearance, in the case of now infamous chef Roberto Donna — of some tried and true DC names.

Open: Rasika West End officially opens Friday, March 30th at 1177 22nd St. NW, following a series of soft opening dinners earlier in the week. The second location of the city’s upscale Indian institution will serve many of the favorite dishes from the original Penn Quarter spot — the palak chaat is there, rest easy, West Enders — but about a quarter of the menu is new thanks to chef de cuisine Manish Tyagi, who joined the restaurant group in January. New dishes include young goat biryani, tawa fish, and poori pockets stuffed with vegetables and mint chutney.

Opening soon: La Forchetta, the pizza restaurant claiming to give 2 Amy’s a run for its money when it comes to the classic Neapolitan pizza, opens April 2nd at 3201 New Mexico Ave NW with a kitchen run by returning DC chef Roberto Donna. Donna, who returns from a stint in Arizona after having to shutter Galileo III for financial reasons, isn’t involved in the business side of the restaurant; it’s owned by restaurateur Hakan Ilhan, he of Pizza Autentica, Cafe Cantina, and Gelato Dolce Vita fame. In addition to pizza, the menu will also include calzones, pastas, risottos, and other entrees dreamed up by its James Beard award-winning chef.

Re-opening: Jaleo’s flagship at 480 7th St. NW in Penn Quarter will reopen this week after a significant renovation, according to Eater DC. The tapas mecca from Jose Andres has been getting a makeover for the past month, and will reopen with a fresh, modern Spanish design — including this pretty crazy bathroom, which the gregarious chef tweeted a picture of earlier in the week.

A vineyard mural welcomes diners at the newly expanded Curious Grape in Shirlington.

The Curious Grape in Shirlington also reopens in a new incarnation today, moving into an expanded space at 2900 S. Quincy Street, down the block from its original location. They closed their previous space nine months ago, and owner Suzanne McGrath said during a soft opening last night that she’s excited “to finally be at this point.” The establishment will be known as Curious Grape Wine, Dine & Shop, as the former wine shop now includes a coffee bar, wine bar, and sit-down restaurant in addition to their retail wine, beer, cheese and charcuterie sales. (Oh and don’t forget to check out the ENORMOUS wall of artisan chocolates. It’s a sight to behold.) Curious Grape will be open for breakfast (mainly coffee and pastries), lunch, and dinner six days a week. Executive chef Erin McKamey comes on board with an impressive resume: she has done stints at 2941, Cental, CityZen, and Proof.

Opening…eventually? Well that didn’t take long. ShopHouse, the Vietnamese sandwich shop in Dupont Circle from the fast-casual magnates behind Chipotle that became instantly popular when it opened in September 2011, is opening another location in Georgetown. They’ll be taking over the former Furin’s space at 2805 M St. NW, according to Georgetown Metropolitan, and opening at some point later this year.

Bring on the year round ice pops: the farm-loving team behind the Pleasant Pops food truck and farmers market stand are opening a brick-and-mortar store at the nexus of Dupont, Adams Morgan, and U Street, they announced on their website Tuesday. The Pleasant Pops Farmhouse Market and Cafe will be located in the old Rita’s water ice location at 1781 Florida Ave NW and will feature their signature frozen confections made from fresh farm ingredients, as well as a slew of other menu items. They’re seeking investment on Kickstarter to get the shop open by this summer.

The prolific owners behind U Street area bars, including Marvin, Gibson and American Ice Company are now floating another new concept: a bar and taqueria operating out of shipping containers on an empty lot at 919 U St. NW. It’s currently being called El Rey, and would include a covered summer garden in the back of the property. In a bit of a surprise, staff at the Historic Preservation Review Board recommended that the board approve it, which could be one step in the right direction. They’ll still need to get approval from ABRA though, which we all know can be an uphill battle with an outdoor seating area in the neighborhood.

A waffle sandwich from the Grids Waffles truck.

Events: Although it might seem like an uber-touristy activity for your Friday or Saturday night, the new Blossom Bites bike tour being offered for this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival sounds like it could be a pretty great time. For $79, the folks behind Bike the Sites and DC Metro Food Tours will lead riders on a tour of some of DC’s best restaurants, where they’ll taste specially created dishes that relate to the annual spring festival.

For something cheaper — or a little more on-your-way-home-from-Rock ‘n Roll Hotel-at-1-a.m. — this weekend marks the launch of the food truck pop-ups at H Street’s Fruit Bat (map). Starting Friday night, the South American-themed bar will host the Grids Waffles’ cooks in their kitchen, and serve fare until 2 a.m., or later, Fruit Bat owner Erik Holzherr tells Young & Hungry. So if waffles, and not White Castle, are what you crave late night, stop by Fruit Bat this weekend.

See other articles related to: neighborhood eats

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/neighborhood_eats_rasika_west_end_la_forchetta_opening_shophouse/5349

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