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New York-based Chef Michael White made a splash when he opened Osteria Morini in the Yards development in Navy Yard six years ago. He’s hoping for repeat success with Nicoletta Italian Kitchen opening in Mount Vernon Triangle on April 19.
The new upscale casual restaurant with an industrial vibe aims to be a fun neighborhood restaurant according to Chef Bill Dorrler, who oversees culinary operations for some restaurants in White’s company.
In this case, fun means pizza, luxe meatballs, classic parms, house-made pastas, and Italian comfort food—some of which astute diners will recognize as favorites from other restaurants by White. “We’ve taken from here and there, and then added to it,” Dorrler explains. See the complete menu below for pricing information.
Pizza doughs are made with 6-year-old mother starter birthed at the restaurant group’s original location of Nicoletta Pizzeria in New York City. (Mothers are fermentation starters used in certain types of bread making.) After three days of fermentation, the crusts are ready be fired up in a Marsal pizza oven. “Our crust is not Neapolitan, but it’s also not thick,” Dorrler says. “They’re built to have toppings.”
The signature pies come well loaded. One is topped with pepperoni, fennel sausage, mozzarella, red onions, and pomodoro sauce; another features porchetta, smoked provolone, rapini, pickled peppers, and fennel pollen. The dough is also used to make breadsticks, which come with rotating dips, like spring garlic pesto and Tuscan bean.
There are three types of meatballs, which can be mixed and matched: one with a blend of dry-aged chuck and brisket from famed butcher Pat LaFrieda; one starring chicken and eggplant; and a third molded from prosciutto and mortadella. There are also faithful renditions of chicken and eggplant parmesan.
Pastas include spinach-rich tagliatelle with bolognese, spaghetti pomodoro with parmesan fonduta, and gnocchi al forno. Entrée options are old school favorites—veal milanese, roasted chicken, and grilled hanger steak—and the restaurant group’s “White Label” burger, which comes coronated with smoked provolone, tomato conserva, and dijonnaise.
Those looking for a sweet finish to the meal can choose from sundaes made with fior di latte soft serve and Italian classics, such as tiramisu, upside-down olive oil cake, budino, and gelatos.
For the opening, Nicoletta Italian Kitchen will be helmed by the restaurant group’s corporate Chef Kevin Knevals, corporate Pastry Chef Katie Conklin, and beverage director Rob Cryan.
Though the restaurant group has no concrete plans, they’re hopeful they can continue to grow in the area. “I hope it’s not our last restaurant here,” Dorrler says. “Who knows where it goes from here?”
Nicoletta Italian Kitchen, 901 4th St. NW; 202-697-6888; nicolettakitchen.com