Todd) You are an event planner in a sense, and a designer, and
a coordinator, and a bit of an accountant, a business major at the University of Maryland, and so you saw this concept coming in Georgetown, and you thought this could really work right.
CiCi) When I met the owners, they said this is what they are doing...They wanted to do an Italian restaurant in georgetown and that this is a wonderful idea.
TCW) Were you surprised to hear that?
CiCi) When you think of italian food, it's bigger, larger dishes, I
love their idea. I think it's a wonderful way to encourage the family.. Was this everything you thought you could be to be involved with this? The owners are great. I love working with them. I can call them at 3 in the morning and they're going to answer
Todd) Oh you've tried! You've got experience. Especially when you're running the restaurant.
CiCi) They take good care of each one of their businesses. And that's why they hired me. And you care because you been there
as a customer. You want to be waited on by somebody who
knows the food right? When you're very detailed about service.
We want our guests to feel like it's their home. It can feel like a home when you have comfortable furniture right?
Todd) You did it tonight, at least for the media, but I want to say
in particular the warm ravioli was really a delicacy. That's what
you want, ravioli that melts in your mouth. And our Chef Ryan. Yea, he pulled it off. And we saw the pasta making machine, and you're not the only one's besides Filominas in Georgetown that can make your own pasta.
CiCi) We make our own right here and it's fresh. And that's a
staple now to see that it's being done. Ryan is very particular
Todd) He probably learned that from Roberta Donna, and some of the other people that he's worked with.
CiCi) We are opening for lunch next week. We open late for dinner and weekends.
TCW) But can you dance?
CiCi) We'll make room for you if you want...
Todd) That's what I wanted to hear...chow!
Rialto Restaurant Georgetown,
October 2013, Washington DC
Sihanm Zouine Stoops (CiCi)
Chef Ryan Fichter
Waiter Santino Filipetto
A Website for Events Information and Services, in Washington DC
My name is Tommaso, and I'm the general manager of Realto. I was born and raised in Italy, in Pavlova, a city a few miles from Venice.I moved to America when I was about 21.
Todd) How long have you been in the restaurant business?
Tommaso) All my life, since I was 15.
Todd) So you've seen it all? Every kind of Mushroom?
Todd) Been there, done that, as you say it over here. What do you bring to Georgetown, that we want to see in Washington DC? We're bringing
what Georgetown is missing…The character of place with a fine dining experience
Tommaso) A good place where people as far as Georgetown is, I'm not going to mention our competitors but we need a good italian restaurant, I want to say amazing.
Todd) You want to say amazing, but do your customers say that?
Tommaso) So far, I'm reflecting what the customers have said. Tonight the Ravioli was extraordinary, and I have worked in Italian Restaurants.
Todd) The temperature in which you served the rravioli was just right, but what I also noticed was the extraordinary service. The attention to detail, the shiny silverware.
Tommaso) We going to keep it up for the opening and for the future. We want everyone to be happy in Realto. We don't have the stuffy, the table cloth atmosphere, but we want people to enjoy the casual dining in a great way. And it's romantic, and someplace to think about for a date.
You saw what the place looks like. We have space for everybody. Space for college students, and romantics, to professionals.
Tommaso) Ryan is our executive chef, and he's been collaborating with a couple of He's worked with Chef Michaela In collaboration with him, we came up with this extraordinary menu. We have every thing available. We have the pizzas, the salads, the antipasti, the pizzas. What's special is both the oven are imported from Italy, which makes the difference. The love, passion. You've got the point So far, this is one of our strengths. Is what people comment on most. And then the variety of authentic toppings and sauces.
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Know of a great artist or theme mural and designer we should feature? Always looking for your suggestions
(This one is at Ben's Chili Bowl)
At Ben’s Chili Bowl, a side of art: The new graffiti-inspired mural
By Clinton Yates
At first sight, you might call it the Mount Rushmore of Half-Smokes. Or maybe the Four Horsemen of the Chili-pocalypse. Personally, I’ll go with the Ben’s Wall of Fame. Whatever you choose to nickname the new mural that adorns the outside wall of D.C.’s iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl, you have to admit: It’s beautiful.
Aniekan Udofia, center, with the help of Joseph Patino, create a mural on the side of Ben's Chili Bowl featuring noted customers such as Chuck Brown. Also included in the mural are Bill Cosby, Donnie Simpson and Barack Obama. (Katherine Frey - THE WASHINGTON POST)
Portraits of Chuck Brown, Bill Cosby, President Obama and Donnie Simpson now serve as greeters if you find yourself in one of the lines that often snake around the building. The mural is on the east side of the alley that separates the restaurant from the Lincoln Theater, and although it might seem like an obvious fit for Ben’s, the idea was nearly a year in the making.
“It’s looking great. I was worried at first, to be quite honest, because it’s a wall,” said creator Aniekan Udofia, 36, as he put the finishing touches on a piece that features four men who have supported the neighborhood stalwart. “It’s not a flat surface like a canvas or a piece of paper.”
The mural is a tremendous example of what happens when government and nonprofit groups work together. MuralsDC, the city-funded program that provides legal avenues for turning donated wall space into graffiti-inspired works of art, teamed up with Eric B. Ricks after the success they had last year with “Ben Ali’s Alchemy,” a mural on the side of Ben’s Next Door, the sister restaurant to the original. That piece represents the social change that has occurred since Ali opened the eatery in 1958. It planted the seed for the new mural.
Nancee Lyons of the D.C. Department of Public Works said organic growth was vital to the recent project. “Our consultant is Words, Beats and Life, a nonprofit organization that works with youth. They have relationships with people. . . . It just becomes a [matter] of, ‘Hey, maybe we can work together,’ ” she said. “We like to do areas that we know receive a lot of graffiti. . . . Those buildings are important to us.”
Graffiti and other forms of public art play an important history in this city’s art culture. As a kid, riding the Red Line and seeing its glorious views on the way to school, I fell in love with street art. But since the early 1980s, when Cool Disco Dan, the legendary graffiti artist sprayed his unmistakable tag around the District — graffiti has largely lived as a subculture in the shadows.
Finally, people have let it out into the open as a socially acceptable art of letters. It’s incredibly refreshing to see generations coming together and embracing one another other’s different expressive forms to beautify the city and educate people. But at first, it wasn’t easy.
When D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) created MuralsDC in 2007, Dominic Painter, who served as a site manager for the Ben’s project, remembers the friction. “The older guard was a bit taken aback at first. . . . But since 2008, when we did our first official program, everyone’s been won over and understands that this is a specific mission that is worth upholding.”
Public art is vital to any city. Just ask Charles Jean-Pierre, the artist behind the all-acrylic Chuck Brown mural at Sweet Mango in Petworth, who’s been helping Udofia this week. “Street art is definitely an underrated form of art, usually looked down upon. But it’s hard to look down upon street art when you see big murals like this,” Jean-Pierre said.
Artist paints tribute on Ben's Chili Bowl Wall
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Here's Anastasia of Dolci Gelato
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Interviewing Shoes Designer and restaurant reviewer, Simone, of www.Simonesez.com
Foodie fun: We were at the Capital Food Fight recently at the Reagan Building which invites some of the best chefs in the area.
Need a Party Costume?
Lance London is Expanding...
Lance London’s Carolina Kitchen in Hyattsville, Maryland, is known for its signature Soul Food and American cuisine that’s based off his late grandmothers recipes. Its weekly events include poetry and jazz night, and are popular with his customers who don’t hesitate to sing the venue’s praises. Never one to rest on his laurels, the entrepreneur is looking to expand his venues, and his menu.
His empire started in a downtown Silver Springs location, and has grown into a successful line that includes Carolina Kitchen Express, Carolina Kitchen (Largo, MD), and Carolina Kitchen Bar & Grill. His next endeavor is a conceptual restaurant named CK Burger, part of a new Carolina Kitchen location.
CK Burger plans to serve “the original country burger,” says London. The restaurant will offer a variety of burgers ranging from salmon, veggie, turkey and other options including a jerk burger. He also plans to offer an Angus all-beef burger to customers who want a traditional hamburger. The burgers, prepared cookout-style, will be available with sides such as potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw.
London plans for CK Burger and Carolina Kitchen to operate in a split location at 2300 Washington Place NE, where they’ll share a kitchen. He wants to open both restaurants by August. Additionally, there are plans in the works to take Carolina Kitchen nationwide, but he’s undecided as of yet. He told the Washington Business Journal, “I have almost 200 people who want to open a franchise but I haven’t decided whether or not I want to do that yet.”
London credits his late father for his entrepreneurial spirit.
“My father would sit with me at night, and talk about how he wanted me to own my own businesses, and be an entrepreneur,” he says.
The same way his father motivated him, London gives back to the small business community as a speaker, providing guidance and inspiration.
At the 2012 Hoodie Awards where Carolina Kitchen won Best Soul Food Restaurant, when asked what he would impart to aspiring business men and women he said, “Communities need more financial heroes to teach the importance of entrepreneurship and the power of economics.”
Jan Damm, Circus Performerr
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Here's Laurie of Swiss Bakery in Burke Va. at recent Capital Food Fight event at Reagan Building
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Chef Roble' Ali of NYC visited the New Joe's restaurant grand opening at 750 15th St. last night...