If you were dining at Ashok Bajaj’s popular Penn Quarter spot last night, you may have caught a familiar face in the crowd. A source confirms that actor Richard Gere attended a dinner at Rasika for the International Campaign for Tibet; Gere is the chairman for the nonprofit advocacy group.
The famed actor is known for his vegetarian-leaning tendencies, though he’s stated in past interviews that his diet isn’t entirely meatless. The table sampled a variety of chef Vikram Sunderam’s greatest hits, including palak chat (crispy spinach with yoghurt and date chutney), tandoori lamb chops, black cod, rice-based chicken biryani, and lentils. Chances are he knew the proper forks to use.
The rumors are true: Reality stars Giuliana and Bill Rancic are opening a restaurant in Washington. Giuliana, a Bethesda native, announced on The Tommy Show that she and her husband are planning to debut a branch of their Chicago-based RPM Italian here.
We first became aware of the expansion after the season six premiere of Giuliana and Bill, wherein the couple scout potential spaces for their restaurant around town. There’s no word yet on how close the DC version will stay to the Windy City original, which is a collaborative project with Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (which is also behind Maggiano’s, Mon Ami Gabi, and Wildfire in our area). You can see a copy of the original restaurant’s menu online; it includes everything from fairly moderately priced pastas to a $118 steak for two.
While some are skeptical about the number of celebrity- and celebrity-chef-driven eateries opening in Washington—Chris Bukowski’s “lady-friendly” sports bar, anyone?—there’s some hope for RPM: Michelle Obama seems to be a fan.
Update: This post previously stated that RPM was going into the space that formerly housed Buddha Bar. In fact, a lease has not yet been signed. Stay tuned for more information.
The opening night of any restaurant is hectic, and that’s before a one-name-status celebrity enters the mix. While the major players behind Proof and Estadio may have been poised to focus on the much-anticipated debut of Doi Moi Tuesday night, Oprah Winfrey was spotted dining at Proof with three lady friends. The star is currently in Washington to participate in the March on Washington 50th anniversary celebration, along with The Butler costar Forest Whitaker and actor Jamie Foxx.
So what does one of the most famous women in the world eat? It seems like nothing too indulgent. Winfrey and her guests shared appetizers, and Oprah dined on an entrée of striped bass; the current menu lists the summery fish dish as being served with corn, baby zucchini, crispy fingerling potatoes, and romesco sauce. The former talk show queen sipped a single cocktail (no wine), and opted for tea instead of dessert.
Winfrey has dined at a range of restaurants in Washington, from a dinner at Blue Duck Tavern last summer to lunch with pal Gayle King at District Commons. Perhaps former personal chef and Art and Soul owner Art Smith provides recommendations.
It turns out we’re not the only ones excited about the new Del Campo restaurant. First Lady Michelle Obama was in for lunch on Tuesday, according to a source, who said she was joined by one of the President’s sisters and the sister’s husband.
Del Campo is the Pampas-inspired restaurant of chef/owner Victor Albisu. It features the cuisines of Peru, Argentina, and other Latin countries. Specialties include the asado boards, robust platters of grilled meats, fish, and vegetables. We were not able to learn what the Obama party ordered.
Before opening Del Campo this year, Albisu was chef at BLT Steak. He also owns Taco Bamba, recently opened in Falls Church.
“Pan-seared Mississippi catfish on a bed of river rice” sounds like a dish you’d read about on one of Jeff Black’s menus, but that recipe is from ten-year-old Reed Lindsey, one of the 54 kids to win Michelle Obama’s second Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. The First Lady teamed up with cooking website Epicurious as part of her Let’s Move! campaign, asking 8- to 12-year-olds across the nation to work with parents and submit lunch recipes that were “healthy, affordable, original, and delicious.” A winner was selected from every state, three territories, and the District out of 1,300 entries, and the aspiring chefs who took first place will be treated to a “state dinner” lunch at the White House on July 9 with several of their dishes included in the spread.
So what did the Washington contingent come up with? Emma Scielzo, a ten-year-old from Chevy Chase, won for her chicken masala wraps, while Campbell Kielb, eight, of Sterling took first place in Virginia for orange chicken lettuce wraps. Nine-year-old Ingrid Lamberg from DC had one of the most creative submissions, cooking up Inga Binga’s Salmon Salad. Read on for the rest of the winning entries (Sneaky Chili Surprise! Super Rescue Soup!), and check out some of the recipes on Epicurious’s contest site.
Two stars of the Washington Capitals prepared for the start of a shortened NHL season by stopping by the Georgetown location of Morton’s, the Steakhouse (3251 Prospect Street, Northwest) Sunday evening for some protein power, a restaurant rep informs Washingtonian.
Moscow-born captain Alex Ovechkin—recently returned from a sojourn in the homeland—and his Canadian teammate, defenseman Michael Green, shared a steak dinner. Ovechkin had a 12-ounce filet—“his usual,” according to the rep—while Green ordered a New York strip. The men reportedly complimented Morton’s staff on the restaurant’s remodel, which was completed last week. The Capitals open the season at Tampa Bay on Saturday, January 19.
Harris first tweeted about “delicious pizza and the best [B]russels sprouts I’ve ever eaten” at Mike Isabella’s Penn Quarter place Graffiato—and shared this photo of husband David Burtka taken outside the restaurant. Then it was off to H Street, where he stopped in to Toki Underground to experience “[s]ake, dumplings, tofu, and utterly delicious ramen,” deeming the tiny upstairs eatery a “must go.”
NPH must read Todd Kliman reviews, because before calling it a night, he took his apparently prodigious appetite to Izakaya Seki. The verdict: “Delicious, true Japanese meal served by a father/daughter duo. Great sake, too.”
According to the Washington Examiner, Harris and Burtka were sent to Graffiato by Bryan Voltaggio. The actor is in town to host the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, which you can watch online beginning at 4:30 PM on Thursday, December 6. Also on the schedule: James Taylor, Jason Mraz, Colbie Caillat, Ledisi, Babyface, the Fray, Modern Family actor Rico Rodriguez, and—the guy so nice they named him twice—American Idol star Phillip Phillips.
The Washington Post’s Reliable Source reported yesterday that newlyweds Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively followed up their surprise wedding in South Carolina six days earlier with a Saturday night stay at the Inn at Little Washington—and that stay included a late dinner at the restaurant.
Rom-com royalty Katherine Heigl was in town last night to attend a gala for the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, but she didn’t fill up on bread rolls and banquet chicken, apparently. After the actress and her husband, Josh Kelley—who have two young adopted daughters, Naleigh and Adelaide—were honored at the event, they had a late-night dinner at Fiola along with the Knocked Up star's mother and two friends.