Chef Matteo Venini Takes Over at Tosca

Plus a new look and menu for the stalwart Italian spot.

Tosca will temporarily close downtown. Photograph courtesy of Tosca.

You won’t find exposed brick and dish-towel napkins at Ristorante Tosca, a white-tablecloth fixture of Washington’s fine-dining scene for the past 14 years. Still, the stalwart downtown restaurant is making moves to change with the times. Chef Matteo Venini has officially taken over the kitchen from longtime toque Massimo Fabbri, who now runs the line at casual sister eatery Posto.

The northern Italian-born Venini began his career in the US as a sous chef at Tosca, and also worked as a chef de cuisine at Posto and with the Fireman Hospitality Group at the National Harbor (Bond 45, Fiorella). The menu changes are in line with the upscale concept, with dishes such as seared foie gras with toasted hazelnuts and truffle, braised short rib ravioli, and roasted sea bass with lentil ragu; items can be ordered à la carte or as part of nightly tasting menus. Other longtime staples, like the carrot pappardelle with rabbit ragu, have been tweaked—now you’ll find scialatelli (thick noodles) with braised rabbit in white-wine sauce.

Though table linens aren’t going anywhere, some updates have also been made to the dining room. Additions include glass-enclosed wine cases and Tuscan orange accents on the walls. This will be the second minor revamp for the restaurant, which temporarily closed in 2013 for a remodel.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.