Archive | January, 2012

Zuppa Fresca: A Young Chef Brings an Exciting Vision to NoMa

19 Jan

Open Kitchen and Bar at Zuppa Fresca

Even if you know D.C. well, you may not know anything about NoMa.  Technically defined as the area immediately north of Massachusetts Avenue, NoMa is the area to the north of Union Station up to and around the New York Avenue Metro stop that has seen incredible growth in high rise (for D.C.) office buildings and apartment buildings over the past few years.  While NoMa is not currently known for its cuisine or nightlife (with the possible exception of Todd Gray’s Watershed restaurant), a new restaurant has an exciting opportunity to elevate the dining scene in the area and begin to place it on the culinary map.  That restaurant is Zuppa Fresca, located on the ground floor of the Loree Grand apartment building (250 K Street NE).  When the Loree Grand building first opened, it was going to have a restaurant by Gillian Clark (of The General Store and others).  However, Clark’s restaurant never opened, and Zuppa Fresca quickly took its place.  Zuppa Fresca is already open serving breakfast and lunch Tuesday-Sunday; however, the restaurant has much more planned in the weeks and months ahead.

Zuppa Fresca is headed by new chef Alfio Celia, a graduate of L’ Academie de Cuisine in

Window Tables at Zuppa Fresca

Maryland.  Celia started his culinary career when he was 13 cooking in his father’s restaurant.  After his early start, he went on to master his skills at L’Academie de Cuisine so that he could become a part of the D.C. dining scene.  He believes that it isn’t enough simply to make great food.  For him, “a chef has to be able to tell a story with his food and it has to be an interesting story.”  He thinks that NoMa is the place to develop his vision.  In our interview he had warm thoughts about NoMa saying that it will “have explosive growth in the upcoming years and the food scene will need to grow.”  He also believes that other chefs will follow the lead and begin making NoMa a dining and going out destination.

Onion Rings with Aioli

Zuppa Fresca (as you could probably guess from the name) is Italian cuisine but don’t be thinking boring chicken alfredo.  Celia tells us that his dinner menu will buck the usual Italian restaurant theme and not serve many pastas.  Instead, his menu will feature a combination of traditional Italian flavors and modern dishes that have a “Sicilian flair.”   He says that he wants to showcase Sicilian and Italian food “that is overlooked by other Italian cuisine.” Rather than excessive amounts of pasta, expect different kinds of seafood and veal.  He expects that the menu will change daily and that he will be in the kitchen personally preparing many of the dishes. Continue reading