When restaurateur Hakan Ilhan opened Mirabelle in 2017, the French restaurant epitomized downtown fine dining, complete with a former White House chef (Frank Ruta), luxe decor, and touches like a roving cheese trolley. Fast forward five years—which have included dramatic kitchen shuffles, a reboot, and over two years of pandemic closure—and the 100-seat dining room is ready for its next, dressed down act. Il Piatto, a breezy Italian restaurant, will open on Thursday, June 23 in the former Mirabelle space, which sits a block from the White House
“When we were thinking Il Piatto, we were thinking about our location next to Black Lives Matter Plaza and lots of tourist activity—a more approachable concept would be great” says Ilhan, who also operates elevated-casual spots like Al Dente near American University, Ottoman Taverna in Mount Vernon Triangle, and Brasserie Liberte in Georgetown. “There’s always a place for fine dining, but I think it’s overdone. There are only a certain amount of places that can survive that level in the pandemic.”
Just because the concept is more casual doesn’t mean Hakan didn’t tap serious talent. Chef Lina Nicolai, a Naples native who ran Al Crostino in Shaw for over a decade before it closed during the pandemic, will helm with kitchen. Her classic Italian menus—offered for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch—are designed to be familiar. Dishes will include fettuccine bolognese, pasta with wild mushrooms, eggplant parmigiana, chicken Milanese, and coastal-style fish baked with wine and summer vegetables. Prices will range from $10 to $15 for appetizers, and $19 to $35 for entrees.
Ilhan hasn’t changed the elegant dining room for the new concept—except to remove white tablecloths. Patrons can still tuck into a deep leather booth or perch at the 22-seat marble bar—now with a Negroni or “Italian margarita.” A seasonal outdoor patio will seat another 60 guests for spritzes in the sunshine.
Il Piatto. 900 Black Lives Matter Plaza, Northwest.