And the bread has the magic touch of dough maven and bakery consultant Mark Furstenburg, one of those bakers in Washington who has found the elusive formula for loaves with crackly crusts and spongy interiors. The Marvelous Market and Bread Line founder learned to bake bread in Paris.
A recent raisin/fennel boule showed that Furstenburg’s techniques have taken hold at Potenza: The eggy loaf was infused with anise flavor, although short on the raisins. Chris Kujala, Stir’s executive pastry chef, has had equal success with his sweeter creations. A dried-cherry sticky bun, still warm from the oven—they’re baked at 8, 9, and 10 AM—was the standout, its sugary filling tucked into soft coils of sweet bread. There are ten homemade gelatos and sorbets.
The bakery also has an answer for grumbling expat Philadelphians looking for a good sandwich. Here, a buttery brioche bookends rare roast beef with fennel and a blood-orange marmalade, and a warm, tightly rolled stromboli comes with spicy marinara sauce for dunking.
This might not be Paris or Rome, but we’d send a homesick European here anyway.
Potenza Bakery, 1430 H St., NW; 202-638-4444; potenzadc.com. Bakery is open Monday through Friday from 8 to 8; Saturday from 10 to 8; and Sunday from 10 to 6.
More>> Best Bites Blog | Food & Dining | Restaurant Finder