Food

Michelin-Starred Chef Nicholas Stefanelli Opens Downtown DC Italian Cafe

The latest Officina opens for morning espressos and after-work Negronis and pastas.

Officina opens an airy all-day cafe downtown. Photograph by Deb Lindsey

More and more restaurants are opening—and reopening—in downtown DC after a long period of pandemic inactivity. The latest: Officina by chef Nicholas Stefanelli, an airy all-day Italian cafe that debuts today at 1615 L Street, Northwest. Stefanelli also operates Michelin-starred Italian restaurant Masseria near Union Market as well as his flagship Officina, a three-story Italian emporium, at the Wharf. He’s also currently popping up in Georgetown with another Officina cafe/market.

Dishes include a range of quick-grab items and sit-down plates like homemade pastas and cheese/charcuterie boards. Photograph by Deb Lindsey

This third Officina was designed with a downtown office, local, and tourist crowd in mind. Breakfast, which will begin after Labor Day, stars espresso drinks, Teaism teas, and fresh-baked Italian pastries. Diners can drop by for grab-and-go items at lunch like panini, Roman-style square pizza, and homemade gelato. The all-day lunch/dinner menu also boasts dishes worth lingering over, like homemade sweet-corn ravioli; steak and panzanella salad; or head-on shrimp with escarole, broccolini, and chickpeas. The bar specializes in Italian cocktails, so you’ll find negronis and vodka-spiked Sicilian lemonade, as well as Italian wines and beers, which you can match with cheese and salumi boards.

A bar is primed for Italian cocktails. Photograph by Deb Lindsey

Officina is Stefanelli’s first downtown DC concept, but it won’t be his last. Philotimo, a splashy Greek restaurant that plays to his Mediterranean heritage, is slated to open this fall after a long pandemic delay. 

Officina Downtown. 1615 L St., NW. 

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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.