Neighborhood: 14th Street/U Street
The restaurant in question was Lupo Verde, the newest addition to the now blossoming 14th Street stretch. I was predisposed to dislike the place: the first time an Open Table miscommunication meant I had to move a six-person brunch last minute. Still, I owed Official Friend of DCWD HR Intern some catch up time and with the middle ground falling squarely at 14th and U, Lupo Verde seemed like a decent enough stop. The second strike was the restaurant's strict enforcement of a 5pm open time. Which isn't a complaint - this of course is their prerogative and the rules of the game - just an explanation of my mood having stood outside for 15 minutes in the cold before they let us in. And the third blow was the advertisement of a snow day happy hour special on Eater that never surfaced. Still, here we were.
Squeezed in the skinny space between Policy and the refurbished post office on T Street, Lupo Verde is two skinny floors that feels like an extended bar on the first floor (the second floor remains unseen on this trip). A six-seat marble bar sits underneath a staircase, while some high-top tables sit opposite, mostly groups of six. Pick a restaurant trend and it exists here: exposed brick, chalkboards, repurposed drafting chairs, industrial style light fixtures. Still, it's got a bit of polish over the whole thing and one major hammer: a small booth-like office that sits at the bar's back corner, to show off the results of the restaurant's cheesemaking, sausage making, and other audience-friendly finishing work.
Neither of us were particularly hungry and HR Intern was teetotaling for the evening, so we decided to just split a little nosh. On deck for me was a cocktail of rye, fennel, and bitters which was a bit expensive, but every bit of delicious as advertised. For food, we split a pizza topped with mozzarella, stracchino, mortadella, radicchio, pistachio, and honey. The pizza maybe perfectly embodies the personal pan style, coming in its own little . This also means that it's surprisingly small, maybe six or seven inches across. Still, despite how much I might have been inclined to dislike the dish, it's an incredible bite: a crust that is equal parts soft and crispy and sublime; a steady hand with the cheese that balances out all of the presented flavors: the wonderful crisp of the radicchio slaw, the salty flecks of crispy mortadella ham, and the delicate hints of honey sweet.
Maybe not the best bang for your buck, but an incredibly rich bite deserving of merit.
Food Rating: **** (out of 5)
Date Rating: 3.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code: Casual
Bar Rating: Classy Crowd
Cost:$$$ (out of 5) ($50-$75 for two)