Retrobottega co-owner Rolando Frias advises you not to skip the rabbit cacciatora served with tomatoes, green olives, mushrooms, and roasted potatoes on your first visit to the Adams Morgan newcomer that quietly opened over the weekend. The Italian restaurant replaces what was once Libertine and then Rosario at 2435 18th St. NW. He and co-owner Matteo Catalani will do the cooking.
Washingtonians know Catalani and Frias from the growing number of restaurants under the Al Volo umbrella, including Osteria Al Volo up the street in Adams Morgan, as well as the Al Volo Trattoria & Bar in Cleveland Park, Pizzeria Al Volo downtown, and the Al Volo stand in Union Market. The third Al Volo partner, Daniele Catalani, is not involved in Retrobottega.
Diners can have a more traditional meal that kicks off with cheese and charcuterie followed by a salad and a choice between five entrées that will frequently rotate, or they can make a meal out of Italian small snacks known as cicchetti.
The tapas-sized, mostly fried bites include arancini, fried artichokes, meatballs, fried polenta, fried truffle mozzarella cheese, and fried calamari. They’re priced between $4 and $8 each. Frias wants diners to “try something they wouldn’t have at home.” See the full menu below.
In addition to the rabbit cacciatora, Frias recommends trying the charcuterie. He’s sourcing several of the meats from Virginia producer Terra di Siena. “He’s Italian,” Frias says, referring to the company’s owner, Filippo Gambassi. “It’s a little more expensive, but he’s doing a great job.”
Drinks include $12 cocktails like an amaro smash, a spiced gimlet, and a negroni; a short Italian wine list, most of which is offered by the glass; and a selection of amari for sipping before or after dinner.
Retrobottega is currently open Sundays through Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. The restaurant is not accepting reservations at this time.
Retrobottega, 2435 18th St. NW