Before New York restaurateur Michael White opened Osteria Morini in Navy Yard—and long before Navy Yard was a culinary hotbed—he toyed with the idea of putting a branch of NYC’s Nicoletta Pizzeria there. Now, six-odd years later, the shop is coming.
The pizzeria is one of two Italian concepts White and business partner Ahmass Fakahany are opening in DC this April. Nicoletta Italian Kitchen, a full-service restaurant and new concept for the Altamarea group, will debut in Mt. Vernon Triangle mid-month (more on that in a minute).
Nicoletta Pizzeria will open in early April on the Yards pier in front of Osteria Morini. (Last summer the stand was home to Italian street food stand Morini Piccolo). In warm weather, it’ll operate as a fast-casual spot with a menu of pies (both specialty and customizable), parm sandwiches, wings, salads, beer, wine, and frozen negronis. Patrons can hang on the dock with seating for about 45 guests. In fall and winter, the shop will offer takeout and delivery only. Currently, there are four other locations ranging in casualness from a flagship restaurant in the East Village to a kiosk at Citi Field (home of the Mets).
The common thread between all Nicolettas is pizza dough: a three-day fermentation process that’s meant to develop a rich flavor. Medium-thick crusts are crafted to be sturdy and hold a generous amount of toppings like the Calabrese with thick-cut pepperoni, sausage, tomato, mozz, and shaved red onion. White says the style is a combination of his native Wisconsin (yes, Wisconsin pizza is a thing) and Italian.
Meanwhile, Nicoletta Italian Kitchen is slated to debut around April 15. The style of the 80-odd seat space is “modern day red sauce,” per Jonna Gerlich, Altamarea’s managing director. Think several styles of homemade meatballs, gnocchi al forno, veal milanese, and chicken parm in addition to the deck-oven pizzas. A large bar will pour Italian spirits and wines. Eventually, the kitchen plans to serve lunch, brunch, and dinner. Or, as at all Nicolettas, you can always grab a takeout pie.
Nicoletta Pizzeria, 301 Water St., SE (Yards Park pier); Nicoletta Italian Kitchen, 901 Fourth St., NW