River Club Brings Stylish Italian, Spanish, and Lebanese to the Georgetown Waterfront

The restaurant comes from the owners of Residents Café & Bar in Dupont

Order tableside service of arak, amaro, or vermouth at River Club. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

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River Club. 3000 K St., NW. 

Georgetown’s newest restaurant—from the team behind Residents Café & Bar in Dupont—specializes in all things Italian, Spanish, and Lebanese. At River Club, which opened July 6, you’ll find kibbeh alongside jamón Ibérico croquetas, and tagliatelle with lemon crema next to Maine lobster paella. Meanwhile, a cart roams the stylish dining room pouring arak, amaro, or vermouth tableside.

“Residents itself is loosely Mediterranean. We wanted to follow somewhat along that same line, and we just narrowed it down to what we like cooking the most,” says co-owner David Nammour. (Both Nammour and his business partner Farid Azouri have Lebanese roots.) The name River Club might sound to familiar to anyone who’s been around DC awhile: Nammour’s dad ran a nightclub in Georgetown called River Club from 1988 to 1999 just a couple blocks away from their new spot, which takes over the former Bangkok Joe’s space on the waterfront.

“It’s a fun homage to him, but it’s a very different concept,” Nammour says. “Anybody above 50 has been mentioning it.”

Mezze, skewers, and larger platters span Lebanese, Italian, and Spanish cuisines. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

Residents chef Nate Berry, who previously worked at Plume in the Jefferson Hotel, oversees the menu of mezze, skewers, and larger “for the table” plates. Expect to see everything from papas bravas with saffron aioli to whipped labneh with pita to wagyu carpaccio with summer truffle vinaigrette. A section of grilled skewers will range from smoked lamb belly with harissa honey to fish loin with Italian salsa verde to barbecue carrot with pistachio crumble and whipped tahini.

Cocktails represent Spain, Italy, and Lebanon. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

Groups can also feast on a whole pan-seared branzino or smoked lamb rib rack. Berry says he’s particularly excited about the whole Green Circle chicken—”some of the greatest chicken available on the North American market”—served with chicken-fat-confit potatoes, roasted cherry tomatoes, and marinated asparagus.

The cocktail menu—overseen by Jon Arroyo, formerly of Farmers Restaurant Group—is broken down by country. Lebanese-inspired drinks include a blueberry highball with arak and salted sage crisp, Italy is represented with a seasonal negroni, and a vermouth and tonic channels Spain. Each section also includes tableside service of signature spirits, including arak, amaro, and vermouth. Wines span all three countries, too.

The dining room of River Club includes many pieces custom-made in Beirut. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

The restaurant and its 16-seat bar give the Washington Harbor space a totally new look—what the owners like to call “accessible luxury.” Nammour says they’re going for something “elegant, yet comfortable and fun, yet chic” for the design. Most of the decor was custom-made in Beirut, including a stained glass artwork on the ceiling, geometric tiled floors, and plush seating in a terracotta, pink, and light green color scheme.

The bar at River Club. Photograph by Scott Suchman .

The owners say they’ve invested significantly in a sound system and spent a lot of time curating the playlist of soul, funk, rock and roll, and disco—from Stevie Wonder to Anderson .Paak to French and Arabic songs. They’ve also added acoustical ceiling tiles to improve the sound quality and noise level.

“Everything is happy and groovy,” Azouri says.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.