A little over a year after opening Caruso’s Grocery in Capitol Hill, Neighborhood Restaurant Group and chef Matt Adler are already preparing to open a second location in the Pike & Rose development of North Bethesda this fall. The restaurant will take over the dining room of beer-centric American tavern Owen’s Ordinary, which will rebrand as Owen’s Tavern and Garden with just the bar area and patio.
Adler says Owen’s 90-seat dining room was never as busy as the bar and patio. So when he and NRG founder Michael Babin started looking to expand Caruso’s, they figured it made sense to repurpose the underutilized space.
Adler says the new (but old-school) Caruso’s menu will be “97 percent similar.” That means you’ll still find favorites like chicken parm’, bucatini with spicy Neapolitan ragu, and wild-mushroom alfredo pasta. Among the few additions: chicken scarpariello (“shoemaker’s chicken” with roasted potatoes and hot cherry peppers in a red-wine gravy), veal saltimbocca, and prime steaks and chops with marsala- braised mushrooms, balsamic onions, and roasted garlic butter. The bar will continue to serve up $10 cocktails, including the popular “antipasti martini” with Italian tomato gin, olive brine, and a mozzarella garnish. Also expect affordable wines by the glass, carafe, and bottle and a respectable beer selection curated by NRG Beer Director Greg Engert.
Meanwhile, Adler will revamp the menu of Owen’s. The chef is drawing inspiration from classic New York City taverns like JG Melon and Corner Bistro—yes, there’ll still be a burger and wings—but with some Italian-American accents. One example: garlic-bread pizzas with toppings such as wild mushroom and truffle or pepperoni and spicy honey. He’ll also serve “Italian nachos” made with fried pasta sheets topped with four-cheese sauce, crumbled sausage, basil-marinated tomatoes, and black olives. Adler says the dish comes from his father’s former Italian restaurant Scoozi in Garnerville, New York, which was part of the inspiration for Caruso’s Grocery. Owen’s will continue to pour 50 beers on tap, while the cocktail menu will be expanded with frozen drinks perfect for outdoor sipping.