Here Are the Winners of Washington’s 2018 RAMMY Awards

Chiko is New Restaurant of the Year. Centrolina's Amy Brandwein is Chef of the Year.
Here Are the Winners of Washington’s 2018 RAMMY Awards
Brisket with rice and cumin lamb noodles at Chiko. Photographs by Scott Suchman.

It’s been a rough couple weeks for the restaurant world with the loss of food sage Anthony Bourdain and local restaurateur Tad Curtz. But the Washington dining community came together in solidarity Sunday night at the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s annual RAMMY Awards gala—AKA DC Food Prom—to honor the best in the local food and drink scene.

Things also got political. RAMW used the awards as an opportunity to rally restaurant workers against Initiative 77. The DC ballot measure, up for vote on June 19, would eliminate the “tip credit,” which allows restaurants to use customers’ gratuities to pay servers, bartenders, and other tipped workers the majority of their hourly wages. (Read our explainer here.) In addition to the various winners and restaurant workers who voiced their opposition over the course of the ceremony, mayor Muriel Bowser reiterated her stand at the podium, stating “I’m not voting for Initiative 77, and you shouldn’t either.”

Not everything about the RAMMYs is so transparent. An anonymous panel of food writers and other industry professionals chooses most of the winners, but the public votes in four categories: favorite fast bites, gathering place, casual brunch, and upscale brunch.

For all of you wondering, “Where’s Himitsu? Where’s Pineapple and Pearls?,” keep in mind that restaurants must be members of RAMW to be eligible for the awards. Also, winners are not eligible to be finalists in the same category for five years. So because Minibar won fine dining restaurant of the year last year, it’s not in the running this year (or for the next few years). That being said, the avant-garde restaurant was able to take home an award in a different category: Best Service.

Also notably missing this year: Mike’s Isabella‘s restaurants. The restaurateur had two businesses nominated—Arroz and G—but RAMW removed them from consideration them in light of sexual harassment allegations against Isabella. (He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and the lawsuit that surfaced alleged misconduct has since settled.) Michael Rafidi, Isabella’s chef at Arroz and Requin, was also nominated for Rising Culinary Star of the Year. He was not disqualified, but he has since left the restaurant group.

Female contributions to the restaurant industry didn’t go unrewarded, or unnoticed. One of the biggest winners of the night was Centrolina chef/owner Amy Brandwein, who took home the coveted Chef of the Year title (Brandwein was also recently a James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic). Patricia Andrés accepted the accolade for Exceptional Leadership & Impact alongside celebrity chef husband José, who thanked her in an emotional video for “Always making me better than the man I am, and always showing me the way.” She took the stage to accept the award along with their three daughters. And Chiko‘s Scott Drewno, part of the winning New Restaurant of the Year team, devoted his speech to thanking his mother, sister, and wife. His last message before leaving the stage: “We should all be feminists.” 

Now onto the winners:

Favorite Gathering Place of the Year (publicly voted): This nominee is a restaurant rooted in its neighborhood where guests come to eat, drink, and get together with friends repeatedly. The great atmosphere and good vibes are as important as the food and drink. The nominee must have been open for at least 2 years prior to December 31, 2017.
WINNER: The Daily Dish
Bar Charley
Cheesetique – Shirlington
Fare Well
Right Proper Brewing Company

Upscale Brunch of the Year (publicly voted): The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of dining excellence and service for its brunch in an upscale environment. Brunch may be offered as full-service, buffet, or prix fixe. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of one year by December 31, 2017.
WINNER: Osteria Morini
Seasons
Sfoglina
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm
The Source by Wolfgang Puck

Casual Brunch of the Year (publicly voted): The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a dedication to dining excellence, service and value in a casual environment for brunch. Brunch may be offered as full-service, buffet, or prix fixe. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 31, 2017.
WINNER: Ambar Capitol Hill
Ari’s Diner
Ivy City Smokehouse Tavern
Maketto
Vinoteca

Favorite Fast Bites of the Year (publicly voted): This nominee is a delicatessen, quick-serve restaurant, mobile food vendor, or coffee shop (with food menu) that demonstrates a dedication to good food and good service in a fast-casual environment. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 31, 2017.
WINNER: Moby Dick House of Kabob
Taco Bamba
Shouk
Stomping Ground
G by Mike Isabella (disqualified)

Cocktail Program of the Year: The establishment is distinguished by the quality, diversity, clarity and value of its craft cocktail program, evaluated separately from its beer, wine or other beverages. Nominees may be bars, restaurants, or any foodservice establishment with an exemplary cocktail program. The nominee continues to break new ground in education of its staff. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 31, 2017.
WINNER: Espita Mezcaleria
Bar Charley
Barmini by José Andrés
Petworth Citizen and Reading Room
Royal

Beer Program of the Year: The establishment is distinguished by the quality, diversity, clarity and value of its beer program. Brewery restaurants and brew pubs are eligible for this category and will be judged based on the diversity and quality of their craft beer. The nominee continues to break new ground in education of its staff. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 31, 2017.
WINNER: Owen’s Ordinary
Brasserie Beck
Republic
Roofers Union
The Sovereign

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Wine Program of the Year: The establishment is distinguished by the quality, diversity, clarity and value of its wine program. The nominee’s wine program best suits the cuisine and style of the restaurant while enhancing the dining experience. Wine bars are eligible for this category and will be judged based on the diversity and quality of their offerings. The nominee continues to break new ground in education of its staff. The nominee must have been in operation for a minimum of one year as of December 31, 2017.
WINNER: Bourbon Steak
Compass Rose Bar + Kitchen
Le Diplomate
Range (closed)
Trummer’s on Main

Employee of the Year: The nominee is a non-managerial front or back of the house employee who serves as a model employee by displaying outstanding service, an excellent work ethic and a positive image.
WINNER: Andrea Tateosian, Urbana
Gerarda Lazo, Pizzeria Paradiso
Sharon Rissal, Jaleo, Bethesda
Pete Rymshaw, The Salt Line
Edgar Salvador, Centrolina

Manager of the Year: The nominee is a non-owner manager or general manager in the food service industry who displays the highest level of professionalism and leadership. This person must be an inspiration and mentor to all his/her co-workers displaying outstanding service, an excellent work ethic and a positive image.
WINNER: Heidi Minora, Commissary
Daniel Coughlan, Compass Rose Bar + Kitchen
Matthew McQuilkin, Pizzeria Paradiso
Julio Amador, Cork Wine Bar & Market
Adam Rigaa, Brasserie Beck

Service Program of the Year: This nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of excellence in service across the restaurant – from the reservation process, to the host station, to every element of the dining experience. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 31, 2017.
WINNER: Minibar by José Andrés
Bourbon Steak
Le Diplomate
The Red Hen
Tosca

Pastry Chef of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant pastry chef who prepares desserts and baked goods and demonstrates a high standard of excellence and culinary artistry. The nominee serves as an inspiration to other food professionals. The nominee must have been a pastry chef for the past five years with a minimum of two years based in the Metropolitan Washington area.
WINNER: Tiffany MacIsaac, Buttercream Bakeshop
Fabrice Bendano, Le Diplomate
Naomi Gallego, Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Pichet Ong, Maketto
Erin Reed, Blue Duck Tavern

Rising Culinary Star of the Year: The nominee is an “up and coming” chef who demonstrates exemplary talent, shows leadership and promise for the future. The nominee must have been based in the Metropolitan Washington area for a minimum of two years.
WINNERS: Gerald Addison and Chris Morgan, Compass Rose Bar + Kitchen & Maydan
Carlos Delgado, China Chilcano
Daniela Moreira, Timber Pizza Company
Michael Rafidi, Arroz & Requin
Russell Smith, The Source by Wolfgang Puck

Casual Restaurant of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a dedication to dining excellence, service and value in a casual environment. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 31, 2017.
WINNER: Ivy City Smokehouse Tavern
Duke’s Grocery
Daikaya
Royal
Timber Pizza Company

Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of dining excellence and service in an upscale casual environment. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 31, 2017.
WINNER: Clarity
Centrolina
Iron Gate
Maketto
Sushi Taro

New Restaurant of the Year: A restaurant that must have opened between December 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017 and already distinguishes itself as a pacesetter in food, beverage and service.
WINNER: Chiko
Bresca
Del Mar
Maydan
Arroz (disqualified)

Formal Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year: The nominee is a restaurant that demonstrates a high standard of excellence in food, service and atmosphere and shows dedication to sophisticated culinary techniques in a fine dining environment. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of two years by December 31, 2017.
WINNER: Masseria
Fiola Mare
Rasika
The Source by Wolfgang Puck
Trummer’s on Main

Chef of the Year: The nominee is an executive chef or chef de cuisine who demonstrates consistent standards of culinary excellence. The nominee displays a dedication to the artistry of food and may be from any type of establishment. The nominee must have been a chef for the past five years with a minimum of two years based in the Metropolitan Washington area.
WINNER: Amy Brandwein, Centrolina
Kyle Bailey, The Salt Line
David Deshaies, Unconventional Diner
Katsuya Fukushima, Daikaya Group
Rob Rubba, Hazel

Regional Food and Beverage Producer of the Year: This nominee is a food or beverage artisan who creates a product that is then utilized by chefs and restaurants. Nominees in this category may be cheese makers, coffee roasters, vintners, brewers, distillers, bread bakers, chocolatiers, honey producers, farmers, an ice cream/gelato company and many more. When the artisan is a restaurant or restaurant group, the products created must be utilized by chefs and/or restaurants outside of the maker’s restaurant group. The nominee must have been in business a minimum of one year by December 31, 2017.
WINNER: Right Proper Brewing Company
Atlas Brew Works
Bluejacket
Ivy City Smokehouse
Logan Sausage Co.

Restaurateur of the Year: The nominee must be a working restaurateur or restaurant group who sets high standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for a minimum of 5 years in the Metropolitan Washington area.
WINNER: Ari Gejdenson, Mindful Restaurants
Stephen and Mark Fedorchak, and Brian Normiles, Liberty Tavern Restaurant Group
Jamie Leeds, JL Restaurant Group
Daisuke Utagawa, Katsuya Fukushima and Yama Jewayni, Daikaya Group
Ype von Hengst and Bob Giaimo, Silver Diner & Silver

Joan Hisaoka Allied Member of the Year: The award is presented to an associate member who best exemplifies commitment to and support of RAMW. This award recipient is determined by RAMW’s Executive Committee.
WINNER: USI Insurance Services
Coastal Sunbelt Produce
Congressional Seafood
Streetsense
TriMark Adams-Burch


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.

Anna Spiegel
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.