Before the pandemic, Masseria and Officina chef/owner Nick Stefanelli had been looking at spaces in Georgetown. In the process, he’d started talking with Via Umbria owners Suzy and Bill Menard about collaborating on something in the Italian market’s upstairs dining space. Flash forward to the last couple months: Stefanelli drove by while making deliveries and saw the Umbrian shop was closed. He called up the Menards with an idea: What if they collaborated?
The Officina pop-up at Via Umbria officially goes live on Wednesday, June 10. Beyond some of the market’s existing inventory, Stefanelli’s team will add breads, fresh pastas, butchery items, a full coffee program, bottled cocktails, prepared foods, provision boxes, and other “restaurant touches.”
Stefanelli will be launching a more affordable version of the prix-fixe to-go meals he’s been offering from fine-dining Masseria. The daily changing dinners—$35 per person—will include a salad plus classical Italian dishes such as short rib with ramp gremolata or gnocchi alla Sorrentina. The meals will be available Wednesday through Sunday for pick-up only (delivery may come down the line).
The market will also sell sandwiches, pizzas, salads, prepared meals (lasagna, eggplant parm), snacks (marinated artichokes, whipped parm spread), kids meals, and meal kits (make-your-own cannoli have been particularly popular).
Because the store is so small, the team is looking to offer reservations for shopping time slots. You can also walk in or order online for pickup and delivery.
While it’s a “pop-up” for now, Stefanelli says the partnership could go longterm, post-pandemic. The space has an open kitchen that was used for cooking classes, a dining room, and a terrace. “Ideally, we’d be doing something small and casual. It’s probably 40 seats if we could, but right now with everything that’s going on, I couldn’t even tell you when that would be able to come online.”
Meanwhile, Stefanelli is planning to open the rooftop at Officina at the Wharf on Friday. The couches will be replaced with socially distanced dining tables, plus fire pits. The space is being outfitted with an “Alice in Wonderland” theme full of flowers. Diners will use a QR code to order from the menu and pay online. Stefanelli says he has two people cleaning the building floor-to-ceiling every day and will probably bring on another two.
Plans for Masseria’s outdoor dining near Union Market are still TBD. Operations for both his restaurants have been consolidated at the Wharf since the pandemic hit. “Right now, we can get four, maybe five tables,” Stefanelli says. “July is always a really tough month and just to be outside. Are you going to sit through the three hour meal in 95-degree heat?”
Still, he’s making upgrades to the space so he can open at some point this summer.
“Not having that guest interaction that you thrive on in a restaurant, you don’t know how much you miss it until everything’s gone,” Stefanelli says. “That’s what I’m really looking forward to getting back to.”
Officina Pop-Up at Via Umbria. Open Wednesday through Friday from 11 AM to 7 PM and Saturday through Sunday 9 AM to 7 PM.