Owner of Forthcoming Trump Hotel Restaurant Bashes DC’s Food Scene

"I saw so much bad that I was actually looking for the good. I couldn’t find it."

A Trump sign stands outside the Trump International Hotel, formerly the Old Post Office Pavilion, Saturday, April 16, 2016, in Washington. (Phelan M. Ebenhack via AP)

The New York owner of the forthcoming Japanese restaurant at the Trump hotel appears to be taking the approach of reality TV contestants with his DC expansion: He’s not coming here to make friends.

In an interview with New York magazine, Nakazawa owner Alessandro Borgognone and writer Richard Morgan take turns bashing DC and spewing outdated stereotypes:

“With D.C., I had reached a point where I saw so much bad that I was actually looking for the good. I couldn’t find it,” Borgognone says.

Asked about his competition in DC, Borgognone says: “We don’t have any. I don’t know if I’m using the right words. I don’t sound humble. But I am. It’s just, you know, can you name an amazing sushi restaurant in D.C.?”

The shit-on-DC party continues: Morgan describes the food scene as “culturally muddled” and “heavy on fusion” with lots of caesar salads. (Um, what?) “The Palm is the Jean-Georges of D.C., which is sad,” he says.

Borgognone goes for the jugular: “It’s a meat-and-potatoes town. It’s a steakhouse town.”

Perhaps he’s the perfect match for Donald Trump, after all. As the president-elect said in a deposition earlier this year: “There aren’t that many [great restaurants] in Washington, believe me.”

At least Borgognone seems to recognize that Washingtonians aren’t going to be drooling all over his restaurant’s arrival.

“Are they going to love you?” Morgan asks.

“I can’t expect them to fall in love with it. I have to work for that love,” Borgognone says.

He might want to start working a little harder.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.