header i-Italy

Articles by: Francesca Maltauro

  • Dining in & out

    An Italian Summer in Washington D.C.

    As elsewhere in the United States, the Italian dining scene in Washington DC owes much of its success to the history of Italian immigrants and their settlement in the city, in particular at the beginning of the 20th century on the eastern side of Judiciary Square. 

    Although there is not really a Little Italy in Washington, like those in New York or San Francisco, the options for Italian dining are varied and of great quality. Better yet, the Italian food culture has found its way in the capital through both Italian Americans and Italian immigrants who created their own venues, sharing different backgrounds and experiences. 

    Thanks to these developments, the Italian dining scene is becoming more innovative and exciting, contributing to educating the Capital’s residents on food and to awareness of the many shades of Italian cuisine—from regionally-focused restaurants to classic Italian fare, from Neapolitan pizza to all-Italian delis—you will find a spot for every palate in D.C.

    Take Fiola in Penn Quarter, for instance: it shines thanks to renowned chef Fabio Trabocchi, who brings Italian fine dining to an altogether new level. Furthermore, as Italy speaks through its regions, so does Italian food, and D.C.’s increasing regional spots reflect this, from the Milanese Sette Osteria to the Neapolitan Il Canale. And don’t miss Al Tiramisù, featured in this issue with our exclusive interview to its founder and chef Luigi Diotaiuti.

    So, enjoy our selection for this Summer and stay tuned for more on i-Italy.org! 

    Our Selection for this Summer

    NORTHWEST

    Siroc

    915 15th Street NW
    (202) 628-2220

    Cuisine: Modern

    Ambience: Elegant

    Price: $$$ 

    The wide range of meal options and knowledgeable staff at Siroc create a fantastic dining experience. Head chef Martin Lackovic has traveled the world to perfect his highly refined menu after his upbringing in a family of restaurateurs. After years of research and training in South Africa and Europe, he returned to the United States to open his very own restaurant in Washington DC. Each dish at Siroc is filled with flavor, and the wine list is impressive—with a selection from Tuscany, Piedmont, Veneto, and Campania. However, if you’re in the mood for something other than an Italian wine, pop the cork on a bottle from France or Spain. Lackovic orchestrates flavors from high quality ingredients pumped into Italian pastas, meats, and sweets to create sensory delights. If you are looking for top notch food, solid service, and the feeling of being spoiled, Siroc is the perfect place for you. 

     

    PENN QUARTER

    Fiola

    601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    (202) 628-2888

    Cuisine: Traditional

    Ambience: Elegant
    Price $$$$ 

    Fiola prides itself on its fresh cheese, seafood, meats, and pasta that create a well-rounded and authentic Italian experience. Fabio Trabocchi, from a farming family in Le Marche, and his wife Maria, the daughter of a Spanish diplomat, formed a culinary dream team from their passion for gastronomy. They constantly set the bar high for themselves and strive to develop inventive recipes. The menu has specials that change daily, but it always contains delicacies. The cocktails, coffees, and wines available pair well with the rest of the menu. The wines change seasonally but are primarily from Italy, Spain, and Germany. A trip to Fiola is sure to turn any day into a special occasion.

     

    GEORGETOWN

    Pinstripes

    1064 Wisconsin Avenue NW
    (202) 625-6500

    Cuisine: Traditional
    Ambience: Trendy
    Price: $$$ 

    Pinstripes is not your ordinary Italian restaurant. Here, a typical mellow atmosphere is replaced by family entertainment. Upon entering the beautiful brick building alongside the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, you’ll have the chance to satisfy your cravings while challenging your friends and family to a game of Boc- ce ball or bowling. With its massive menu, private event rooms, heated outdoor patio, thirst quenching cocktails, and modern G-town vibe, this fun “Bistro, Bowling, Bocce” joint keeps patrons extremely satisfied. The beverage menu is extensive and includes wine, beer, and cocktails. Many of the wines you’ll see are produced in Napa Valley, and at the bar you’ll find seasonal beer on tap. The lunch and dinner menus offer Italian- American classics such as incredible flat bread pizzas, zuppa del giorno, and highly praised jumbo crab cakes. The alluring cuisine, helpful staff, and lively atmosphere create a sophisti- cated experience that is absolutely worth every penny. 

     

    DUPONT CIRCLE

    Sette Osteria

    1666 Connecticut Avenue NW
    (202) 483-3070 

    Cuisine Regional (Milanese)
    Ambience Rustic
    Price $$

    This is the perfect combination of a convenient location, great outdoor and indoor dining options, speedy service, and tasty food for brunch, lunch or dinner. Sette Osteria utilizes fresh ingredients for each authentic Italian dish such as spaghetti alla carbonara, penne all’arrabbiata, fried calamari, and many more. If you’re in the mood for a pizza, you can choose from almost 20 different types that are baked in the restaurant’s wood- fired oven. The wine list is a fabulous compilation of bottles from Piedmont, Veneto, Tuscany, and Calabria along with domestic wines from California. Perhaps you’re curious how Sette Osteria got its name; sette in Italian means “seven” and is superstitiously recognized across Italy as being a lucky number. For a wonderful Italian experience in America’s capital, Sette Osteria is the place to go. 

     

    COLUMBIA HEIGHTS

    Maple

    3418 11th Street NW
    (202) 588-7442

    Cuisine: Traditional
    Ambience: Cozy
    Price: $$

    Nestled in 11th street’s “hip strip,” Maple adds a splash of Italian culture to the thriving Columbia Heights neighborhood. Get the night started with a delightful selection of cocktails and wines and a tasty appetizer at their trendy wooden bar. Their signature dishes feature the freshest ingredients and are sure to send your tastebuds on a Mediterranean excursion. Some noteworthy menu options include linguine puttanesca, bruschetta with eggplant, and a mouthwatering lamb ragù with tagliatelle. These succulent entrees will keep you coming back for more. On the weekend be sure to stop by for brunch. The egg and cheese panini—accompanied by a buy one, get one free Mimosa or Bloody Mary—is sure to cure a bad case of the weekend “brunchies.” With the floor to ceiling windows and refined decor, Maple provides a refreshing environment. 

     

    A NEIGHBORHOOD GEM IN GEORGETOWN 

    Il Canale:

    Where Italians Go to Eat (and drink) Italian
    1065 31st Street NW (Georgetown)
    (202) 337-4444

    Located in the heart of charming Georgetown, Il Canale has become a real neighborhood gem, providing great quality since its opening. It is a delight and remains true to its motto: “It’s where Italians go to eat Italian.” Owner Joe Farruggio was born in Sicily and moved to the US when he was 17 years old in order to follow his dream of entering into the American food industry. Specializing in Southern dishes, with a focus on Neapolitan fare, chef Farruggio brought to the Capital the best of southern Italian fare, with tantalizing appetizers, like the classic Arancini siciliani, fried rice balls filled with mozzarella, meat sauce and green peas, or the flavor-packed Impepata di Cozze, steamed mussels with extra virgin olive oil, parsley, crushed black pepper. Or try their homemade pasta, from Scialatielli with Seafood, to pillowy gnocchi and ravioli filled with meat deliciousness. All pasta and meat dishes are equally as delicious and maintain that same fabulous Neapolitan quality. Chef Farruggio knows how to keep his clientele, especially since he brought his skills for pizza making to DC. His thin crust pizza creates unavoidable feelings of nostalgia for anyone who has previously experienced true Italian pizza. With the options of white, red and stuffed pizzas, everyone will be satisfied. Diners at Il Canale will be able to see their pizza in the making, thanks to the dedicated area in the restaurant. To make it even more special and genuine, chef Farruggio wisely imported the beautiful wood-fired oven from Naples, as he does with Buffalo mozzarella, and various other ingredients that preserve the authentic Italian taste. Il Canale protects Neapolitan pizza’s heritage as a member of Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, which sets the standard for the perfect Neapolitan pizza. Dig into one of these mouth-watering pies, from the classic Margherita to the Del Pizzaiolo, with Buffalo mozzarella, burrata, arugula, bresaola, and grape tomatoes, and you will want to come back for more! Also, ask your waiter for the extensive wine list: the staff is not just friendly, they are also very knowledgeable about the best pairings and very attentive to your needs--they will enhance your whole dining experience. And the setting is beautiful too: bright, modern, and ample.

    In other words, Il Canale is a perfect entry into Washington D.C. Italian dining scene.

  • Facts & Stories

    Connecting Italian Studies to Italian Companies

    On March 21, Montclair State University hosted a meeting with NJ/NY-based Italian companies entitled Synergies Between Business and Education. Sponsored by the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, the event was co-organized with the Department of Spanish and Italian and the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship under the patronage of the Italian Trade Commission and in collaboration with Choose New Jersey. In her greeting, Inserra Chair Teresa Fiore jokingly said that planning the afternoon itself was a synergy: “Just organizing this meeting has been an incredible pleasure because we are sharing information, ideas, data, and we feel that this can be a very good start.”

    The meeting was aimed at fostering synergies between Italian companies in the New Jersey and New York areas and the Italian Program at Montclair, as well as other related disciplines, in order to create opportunities for students in the rich Italian economy of the area. Following this discussion was another one of equal importance on food and sustainability, featuring Andrea Illy, Chairman of illycaffé and Altagamma, in conversation with scholar and journalist Daniele Balicco.

    Expanding the Bridge Between Italian and Business

    Fiore expressed that the Italian Program at Montclair has been particularly lucky in their “efforts in looking for innovative ways of bringing students to the study of the Italian language and making them into professionals.” However, she still believes that the bridge between the US and Italy can be expanded and this evening was one step in the right direction. After her introduction, she handed the floor over to two representatives of MSU: Keith Barrack (Chief of Staff, Office of the President) and Robert Friedman (Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences).

    Barrack vowed his assistance in her endeavor saying, “We want to be part of your success.” In addressing the companies present at the meeting, he promised, “The University will help you with the environment-sensitive projects, with the packaging, with the design, with business and public infrastructure.” Friedman then thanked the Inserra Chair and the Italian Program's faculty members for their work and their re-visioning of what Italian Studies can be. He also explained that he is co-leading the plan of combining Italian Studies and business in tangible ways through a shared B.A. in partnership with the Feliciano School of Business. He concluded, “Our hope is that we will be able to produce for you your next workforce. And we are very interested in having any opportunity to bring more students to your business system."

    Margie Piliere (Chief Economic Development Office, Choose New Jersey) is one of many business professionals that shares the same goal as the Inserra Chair and the Italian Program. “Choose NJ is a privately founded non-profit and we are focused very much on attracting new business to the state of NJ and we do this both domestically and internationally. We have been spending quite a bit of time on encouraging businesses from Italy to move here to NJ.” Fiore commented that educating students about Choose NJ and the other companies in attendance would be one of the first steps to take. She explained, “We are developing these new BA in Italian and Business. It’s a bit of a tabula rasa, so we can definitely come up with new ideas that certainly serve the needs of the companies that are here, and possibly launch new research projects.”

    “La Bella Lingua” as a Useful Tool in Business

    The message at the core of the conversation was that Italian is not just “la bella lingua” but also a useful language. MSU faculty members are advocates of this idea, including Enza Antenos (Deputy Chair, Italian), who teaches a business Italian course with the premise of “why study Italian in the current market.” The program “allows students to see what they can do with the language.” She continued, “It gives immediacy of delivery mode and wide online dissemination. Students publish articles through publishers in New York and within a month the articles had over 40,000 views. The business course has an impact beyond the university.” In Fall 2018, when the proposed joint Italian/Business BA is to commence, there will be an international experience, which could be local in an international company or alternatively an experience abroad. Choose NJ will be an important partner of the Italian Program in this direction.

    Fiore explained that translation is also an important aspect, not just in terms of literature but also in the business world. She said, “Italian is a hot language for business translation and for a very simple reason: our country continues to be quite monolingual. And you need to know Italian to know Italy.” Marisa Trubiano (Associate Professor, Italian), who has supervised a large number of surtitling and subtitling projects involving students in the past couple of years, illustrated how MSU teaches translation as an important tool. “Our translation projects within the context of the courses, of special projects, and internships basically render Italian cultural products accessible to a global English-speaking or non-Italian speaking public.” For example, the students who work on projects with partners of their choosing—like Piccolo Teatro di Milano, Sferisterio di Macerata, Arena di Verona, and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino with the support of the Inserra Chair, Prescott Studio, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—learn a new skill set “that gives them access to a new world both culturally and professionally speaking.”

    MSU Internship Experiences with Italian Companies

    Maurizio Forte (ITA NY, Director) was one of the many important participants and began by describing the agency's main goal. “At the Italian Trade Commission our mission is to support Italian companies in the process of going international. More exports, investments, and also foreign investments in Italy, these are becoming more and more important to be part of the global world.” He then announced that he would like to arrange an internship program with MSU students at the Italian Trade Commission, as part of an agreement with other local universities. As he explained, this would be “a nice window onto the many things that Italy is doing in our area.”

    Vincenzo Ciancio (Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Vice President) offered only the kindest words for his experience with MSU interns. “We found it to be an incredible opportunity and we are amazed at how they’ve been able to actually fit into our organization, a lot of that comes from the fact that is cultural.” This is where Italian comes in to play. “We like speaking in Italian. We like being able to converse with many of our customers that actually want that, that still need that.” He then enthusiastically shared that he would love any MSU student to work with them and encouraged other companies to do the same. Fiore added, “We know that with Monte dei Paschi di Siena there could not be a better dialogue, thanks to the successful shared supervision between their managers and MSU faculty members such as in this case, Enza Antenos. It’s very constructive and results in very concrete offers."

    Likewise, Giovanni Colavita (Colavita USA) expressed optimistic sentiments about internships. He began by explaining that he gives his ten summer interns from Italian universities job rotation opportunities despite their field of study in order to give them a feel of the company. “I don’t care that much what you teach them in terms of business. I care more about the culture, the language, because if they are smart people I will find them or create a job.” He concluded, “Internships have been a huge opportunity for the students and the company. We have an Italian company and American company, and we need the two to talk and to be closer. So we send Americans to Italy and Italians to America.”

    Lastly, Lidia Autuori (Safilo, HR Vice President) practices similar internship strategies. “We relate very much and connect with Giovanni Colavita’s thoughts. At Safilo to promote the problem-solving attitude we have established that we don’t have job descriptions, but we have role profiles.” She finished, “We strongly believe in Italians, and we have Italian people here in the US, but we also have American people in the top management in Italy.”

    The Inserra Chair and the Italian Program at Montclair University are successfully creating opportunities for their students and proving that pursing Italian studies is an effective tool for entering the "real world." This meeting alone saw the continuation and creation of several internships at reputable companies, including Choose New Jersey, the Italian Trade Commission, and Monte dei Paschi di Siena. This event is just one of many initiatives aimed at linking Italian studies with businesses and is a microcosm in the universal push for Italian culture and language as engines for success in terms of both finding jobs and advancing careers.