DGS Delicatessen owners Nick and David Wiseman are trading matzo for mussels at their latest project: Whaley’s, a 66-seat seafood venture in the Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. The eatery, fittingly named after an 18th century commodore of the Maryland navy, will open for dinner service starting on Monday, May 16 (lunch and brunch will follow).
The cousins and Washingtonian natives built a restaurant reputation around their new-wave delis, but are going a touch more upscale for the new concept. Chef Daniel Perron, who previously held sous-chef positions at Fiola Mare and the Oval Room, was tapped to helm the kitchen and oyster bar—an eye-catching centerpiece of the restaurant.
Diners can share, splitting shellfish towers or a daily special for three-to-four such as vadouvan curry-spiced seafood risotto. That being said, much of the menu follows a more traditional format with a bounty of raw bar options, appetizers, and entrees (plus a few meaty options for the die-hard carnivores). Perron takes creative license with the sustainably-sourced seafood, offering classics like clams casino with house-made bacon, as well as less common pairings–think tempura-fried soft shell crabs with spicy romesco and tomatillos, or crisp-skinned black bass sauced with ramp vinaigrette. Appetizers generally fall in the $12 to $15 range, while entrees hover in the mid-to-upper $20s.
DGS beverage manager Brian Zippin is behind the drinks, sourcing seafood-friendly wines that include a strong list of sparkling varietals, a few moderately priced (for bubbles) around $40. Cocktails run simple and summery, such as chili-infused vodka and lime. Look to sip outdoors on two patios as the season progresses—a 20-seat al fresco area directly in front of the restaurant, and a larger space—roughly twice the size—just steps from the Anacostia River.
Whaley’s. 301 Water St., SE. Open for dinner Sunday through Wednesday, 5 to 10; Thursday through Saturday, 5 to midnight (kitchen closes at 11).