Owner of New Trump Hotel Restaurant Says He Didn’t Mean to Imply DC’s Food Scene Was Terrible

In fact, he says he plans to open a second restaurant here.

Photograph by Jessica Sidman.

Yesterday, New York restaurateur Alessandro Borgognone, who’s opening a Japanese omakase spot called Nakazama in the Trump International Hotel next summer, got Washingtonians riled up with his comments about DC’s food scene. “I had reached a point where I saw so much bad that I was actually looking for the good. I couldn’t find it,” he told New York magazine.

Today, Borgognone is trying to mend fences. He says his comments didn’t reflect his true respect for the city. “The story unfortunately was depicted in the wrong way,” he says. “I’m the first one to apologize… I love DC and that’s why I’m opening a restaurant here.”

In fact, he says he plans to open a second restaurant here.

When he referred to DC as a “meat and potatoes town,” he says he was talking about a previous era in the city. “It’s becoming much more of a decisive, detailed food scene,” he says.

Borgognone also told New York he didn’t have any competition in DC: “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.?”

Now, he says that came off the wrong way. He’s been to Michelin-starred Sushi Taro, for example, but says what he’s trying to do isn’t the same thing: “Anything I try to open has to be very, very different… I can’t allow myself to have any competition.”

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.