Tag Archives: NoMa

Thaaja Bringing Customizable Indian Food to NoMa

15 Oct

Over the past couple of years, NoMa (roughly defined as the region to the north of Union Station) has seen its population grow exponentially thanks to the opening of several large apartment buildings.  Unfortunately, there has not been similar growth in the number of good food options in the area that are open for dinner.  NoMa residents are currently restricted to the pricey (and less than stellar) Watershed, a few fast food places, or going elsewhere for food.  Thaaja Indian Food Bar, 1335 2nd Street NE (in the same building as the Courtyard by Marriott), has the potential to improve the NoMa dining scene when it opens in mid-November.

Future Site of Thaaja Indian Food Bar

We recently caught up with Thaaja owner Shailesh Kumar to learn more about the new place.  Thaaja will be Kumar’s first restaurant and will draw upon the flavors and experiences of the Indian food that Kumar grew up on as a child.  Kumar wants Thaaja to show customers that Indian food can be done quickly, while still being delicious, fresh, and healthy.  Thaaja is still in the middle of renovations, but Kumar expects that it will be ready to open in November.  Once Thaaja has been open for a little while, it will begin delivery.

At Thaaja–which translates as fresh–diners will choose their ingredients and build their meals from scratch.  The customization will be similar to that of Chipotle, ShopHouse Kitchen, or H&pizza.  Customers will first choose a base: Indian wrap, tortilla wrap, rice bowl, or salad bowl.  Next they will add the type of meat that they want as well as other toppings before finishing the meal off with a variety of Indian sauces of different spice levels.  The meats will be chicken, lamb, steak, paneer (smoked Indian cheese), and tofu.  The other toppings will range from onions to chickpeas to cucumber to fried onions.  According to Kumar, they will have “six signature homemade sauces which vary in spiciness, some of which offer very traditional Indian flavors, while others are a little more modern.” The sauces are broken down into spicy ones (a tikka masala sauce, a spicy vindaloo sauce, and a “Tandoori Buffalo” sauce) and savory ones (a yogurt based sauce, a coconut sauce, and one with cilantro, cucumber, and coriander). While the full details of the menu at Thaaja are still being ironed out, there will be a variety of sides on the menu, likely including Indian bread baskets with dipping sauces. Continue reading


Zuppa Fresca Premiers Dinner and Bar on Saturday

17 Feb

Zuppa Fresca in NoMa will be premiering dinner service and full bar service starting on Saturday night.  They have been open for breakfast and lunch for almost two months now and so far have been very impressive.  Check out our updated review and their dinner menu.

Continue reading

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

New Restaurants Coming to NoMa and H Street

5 Dec

Exciting restaurant news for the NoMa and H Street regions at the end of last week:

Zuppa Fresca in NoMa: Our friends over at Frozen Tropics and DC NoMa reported that the Loree Grand apartment building in NoMa has found a replacement restaurant for Jillian Clark’s “Kitchen on K Street” that had been scheduled to open on the first floor of the building until it was recently announced that it had pulled out.  Looking inside, it had been obvious that the space had already been designed for the incoming restaurant for several months, but little work had been done over the past several months.  Fortunately, Zuppa Fresca, a new Italian restaurant by Alfio Celia will be opening soon.  DC NoMa (menu included) and Frozen Tropics have more details.

Chicken Tortilla on H Street: Frozen Tropics also reports that Chicken Tortilla is opening on the east end of H Street (1324 H Street).  The new restaurant will open on the same stretch of H Street where Shawafel and Pho Bar and Grill recently opened.