For his airy Neapolitan trattoria in Columbia Heights, Napoli Pasta Bar owner Antonio Ferraro was on the search for a new chef who could recreate authentic Italian flavors from his native Naples. He ended up going with Andy Clark, a local chef and Maryland native without an Italian bone in his body.
The fit may seem surprising from Clark’s side as well. Napoli has been named a Michelin Bib Gourmand for all two years of its existence—an honor that designates high quality, wallet-friendly food. But it’s not as high-profile as Clark’s previous posts, which include sous chef positions at Fiola, Red Hen, and All-Purpose. Most recently he was chef de cuisine at popular Shaw Tuscan spot San Lorenzo. But after two years, Clark felt it was time for the next challenge.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of growth for me there. I’m still young. I want constant improvement,” says Clark.
Clark is in the process of revamping Napoli’s menus, putting his own spin on Italian classics. New items include salt cod and potato fritters with capers, lemon, and oregano pesto. Though he plans to change the menu frequently, signatures like pasta with Neapolitan ragù, ziti alla Genovese, and eggplant parmesan will remain.
Being from the area Clark hopes to highlight as many local flavors as possible, incorporating regional ingredients like ramps, morels, and fiddleheads into the otherwise Italian lineup. Look for a wholly new menu in March to commemorate the restaurant’s second anniversary.
Napoli Pasta Bar. 2737 Sherman Ave., NW.