Restaurant dress codes have gone the way of the three-martini lunch. But that’s not stopping Rialto, a new Italian restaurant opening in Georgetown tomorrow, from instituting one.

A dress code will apply only to the more formal downstairs dining room and lounge dubbed the Sala Grifone. That’s the Italian translation of “Gryphon Room,” which is what the building’s former occupant, The Guards, called the downstairs space. (The room got its name because the fireplace is decorated with gryphons.) Before the Gryphon Room, the lower level was a members-only club called East India Club.

So what exactly is the dress code? Co-owner Ben Kirane says there’s no coat-and-tie requirement, but they don’t want people wearing flip flops, jeans with holes, T-shirts without collars, or baseball caps. “We want to keep it as unique as possible,” Kirane says. “It’s a way to make it slightly exclusive.” No children under the age of 10 are allowed, either. 

It’s quite a change of pace for Kirane and his partners Moe and Joe Idressi, who also own Thunder Burger & Bar and Bodega Spanish Tapas & Lounge in Georgetown.  Ryan Fichter, who oversees the food at those restaurants, will also be executive chef at Rialto. The northern Italian menu features fresh-made pasta, pizza, cheeses and charcuterie, five types of polenta, and quite a few small plates in addition to a handful of entrees. The menu is the same for the dressed-up folks downstairs as those dining upstairs.

Rialto will be open for dinner only in the first month but will eventually expand to lunch and brunch.

Rialto, 2915 M St. NW; (202) 337-1573;

Photo courtesy Cher Murphy