The Atlas District has seen a number of openings in the past few weeks, including
food trucks turned taquerias Sol Mexican Grill and Chupacabra,
and futuristic watering hole the Elroy. Among the biggest: Vendetta, a 65-seat Italian
restaurant and bocce bar from the owners of H Street Country Club.
Few spots make the eat-drink-play combination work better than the Country Club, so
it’s no surprise that this new project is outfitted with a sit-down dining room, a
15-seat bar, and a 25-foot bocce court on both of the restaurant’s levels. The first
floor gets a cozy, rustic feel from white pine paneling, vintage Italian posters,
and glowing pendant lanterns taken from an old church. Upstairs runs more mod-chic,
with cream light fixtures and two Vespas dangling from the ceiling, another emerging
from the bar wall. Both bocce courts run true to old-world design, layered with gravel,
granite, and oyster-shell flour.
You might kick off the night with a classic Italian cocktail such as a Negroni or
bellini, or make it in time for the nightly happy hour, which brings $5 Peronis, house
wines, and Prosecco on tap between 5 and 8. On the food side of things, chef
James Figueroa-Pérez created a concise menu that focuses on pastas and hearty dishes from the Northern
and Southern regions of Italy. Appetizers might include an antipasto board with local
Olli charcuterie, a
fritto misto of octopus, prawns, squid, and sardines, or seasonal vegetable mezze such as mushroom-zucchini
caponata or polenta fries. For an entrée you can choose from a selection of house-made,
dried, and gluten-free pastas and eight different sauces, which run more creative
than your average mix-and-match menus. Meaty Bolognese and classic carbonara—no cream
or milk, just a simple toss of egg and pancetta—are joined by the likes of walnut-kale
pesto and a sauce of confit rabbit, mustard seeds, and rapini. In addition to the
staples, daily meat and fish specials extend the options with mains such as pig trotter
(feet) risotto and wine-braised short ribs over polenta.
Once you’ve feasted, sign up for a round of bocce. The courts are free and first come,
first served; guests are asked to limit play to one round on busy nights and you might
find the DC Bocce League taking over on others. Though, as they say, if you can’t
beat ’em, join ’em.
Vendetta. 1212 H St., NE; 202-399-3201. Dinner hours: Sunday through Thursday 5 to
10, Friday and Saturday 5 to midnight.