A New Italian Restaurant With Old School Vibes Opens in Downtown DC

Grazie Nonna, a pizza and red sauce joint, debuts at Midtown Center this week.

Grazie Nonna, a red sauce and pizza joint, opens at Midtown Center DC. Photograph by An-Phuong Ly

The vodka sauce is already simmering at Grazie Nonna, a throwback Italian-American restaurant and pizzeria opening in DC’s Midtown Center on Friday, September 23. Restaurateur Casey Patten—owner of Wharf hoagie haven Grazie Grazie and founder of the original Taylor Gourmet—teamed up with Bammy’s chef Gerald Addison for the 80-seat venture. The duo also operate American fry joint Little Chicken nearby.

“Gerald and I have a common interest in Italian-American cooking and a side obsession with pizza,” says Patten. “And this is the real deal pizza.”  

Pasta with vodka sauce. Photograph by Rey Lopez

Pigeon-holers might be disappointed that the kitchen isn’t focusing on any one pizza style, per se. The guys bonded over a love of thin, slightly crunchy New York-style pizza, but then mixed in some fancy flour and came up with some not-so-traditional combos like aged and fresh mozzarella, provolone, spicy pepperoni, and a vodka sauce swirl. The result is a crisp-crusted pie designed to hold up to creative toppings like summer corn, peppers, garlic cream, and cheeses.

The 86-seat dining room is located in the Midtown Center development. Photograph by Rey Lopez

But pizza is just a small slice of the menu. The team looked to neighborhood Italian-American joints up and down the Northeast for inspiration. Diners in the sleek, 86-seat dining room can start with antipasti platters piled with giardiniera, cheeses, and meats, or dig into plates of crispy calamari or clams casino. Pastas, or “macaroni,” include red sauce classics bucatini with meatballs—plus creations like a riff on Patten’s favorite sandwich from his native Philly with braised pork shoulder, broccoli rabe, cherry peppers, or pecorino. The kitchen takes more liberties with large-format share platters such as a whole roasted “chicken vesuvio” —a Chicago specialty—with peas, potatoes, and white wine gravy poured table-side. 

Come outdoor dining season next year, the restaurant will unveil a “pizza garden” with an al fresco bar. For now, drinkers can saddle up to the bar for 70s style amaretto hours and a variety of negronis. 

Grazie Nonna. 1100 15th St., NW

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.