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Walter Gagliano is an interior designer who has designed 25 restaurants in the Washington, D.C. area, including D.C. Coast, Ten Penh, and all three Jaleo locations. Tonight, he’s accompanying Young & Hungry columnist Tim Carman on a whirlwind architectural tour of District eats. Gagliano goes on the record about what’s hot and cold in D.C. restaurants, off the menu.

Cork Wine Bar is located at 1720 14th St. NW, in a spot formerly occupied by Sparky’s espresso cafe.

Hot: Cork’s retooling of the caffeine joint’s space achieves “a familiarity that looks totally at home with the block,” says Gagliano. “It’s a sophisticated but not-overdone look.” The bar’s tin ceilings, wood floors, and exposed brick contribute to the unexpected elegance. “I’m bemused at the ability of those elements to reinvent themselves and look fresh,” says Gagliano. Cork’s interior design makes sure its wine list is exposed, as well. “The wine-bar theme is instantly reinforced by a distant view of an open wine cellar. It lets you know that they’re serious about wine without looking like some showy suburban wine cellar.” A central loft dining room perched atop the mock cellar “looks like a great space for a party of 12-19,” Gagliano adds.

Cold: Not all of Cork’s simplified solutions come off as quite as earthy. “There are energy-inefficient Edison bulbs, but they have great character and warmth,” says Gagliano. “And the back room is pleasant, but unless they’re very busy it would be like being in Siberia—-it’s so removed from the main action.”

Reporting by Tim Carman