The motif of celebrating family heritage is central to Casa Luca's casual Italian design in Washington, D.C.
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Birth Announcements: September

Juliet Glass - September 2013

Fabio Traboc­chi, chef/owner of the upscale Fiola, recalibrates his cooking in a more casual direction with the July launch of Casa Luca, an osteria (named for his 9 year old son who cooks alongside him on Saturdays) at 1099 New York Avenue NW. Chef de cuisine Erin Clarke and pastry chef Tom Wellings came from Fiola. The menu leans toward the flavors of Italy’s Marche region, where Trabocchi grew up. The 136 seat interior integrates hand-blown glass lamps from Mallorca, Spain (home of wife Maria) and hand-printed Italian textiles to soften the restaurant’s industrial steel framework. Apps ($6 to $16): summer corn, prosciutto, and mint; salad of butter lettuce, artichokes, and buffalo ricotta. Mains ($16 to $32): smoked potato gnocchi with classic duck ragù and cremini mushrooms; porchetta ascolana. Desserts ($8): wildflower honey custard with almond siena ricciarelli; hazelnut coffee cake with caramel gelato and vin cotto.

Michael White and his Altamarea Group added some diversity to their impeccable Italian lineup of restaurants with the July opening of classic cocktail endeavor The Butterfly and May debut of Costata (“rib eye” in Italian), focused on dry-aged steaks. Helming the 55 seat Butterfly, at 225 West Broadway, are Altamarea head of bar operations Eben Freeman and Marea executive chef Jared Gadbay. Charles Lutka ascended from Marea sous chef to Butterfly chef de cuisine. As for Costata, located at 206 Spring Street (the former townhouse that housed Fiamma, where White rose to fame), the multilevel eatery seats 140 and is richly appointed with wood-clad walls, table-draped white linens, and luxe brown leather chairs. Executive chef PJ Calapa, who also oversees Ai Fiori, leads the kitchen. Butterfly apps ($15 to $24): Reuben croquettes with Thousand Island dressing; oysters with tomato mignonette. Costata mains ($17 to $59): 40 day dry-aged rib eye with choice of compound butters and sauces; lobster al forno with coral butter. Costata desserts ($9 to $16): rum raisin semifreddo with salted caramel, banana, passion fruit, and candied walnuts; panna cotta with chocolate crema, cherry, Marsala, and espresso granita.

After a brief stint at Krescendo, Elizabeth Falkner has landed as executive chef at Corvo Bianco (“white crow”), which opened in July at 446 Columbus Avenue (formerly the site of Calle Ocho). Co-owners are sibling team Luis and Paulina González Rul, who own restaurants in their native Mexico. Falkner focuses on Italian coastal cuisine from a whimsical American point of view. Chef de cuisine Flavia Amaral previously worked at Benoit and Aquavit, among others, and pastry chef Adam Marca migrated uptown from East Village hot spots Calliope and Peels. Original architectural details, such as brick archways and a landmarked skylight, give the 225 seater an airy Old World feel. Apps ($9 to $22): prawns with cocoa nib romesco; salad of raw and roasted carrots, seeds, sunflower sprouts, and radishes. Mains ($17 to $28): trenette al nere with sea urchin, daikon, and sesame seeds; scallops with lovage, artichokes, and melon. Desserts ($10): grilled peaches with bitter almond meringues, salted corn gelato, and sorrel; cocoa cake laced with fernet, mascarpone mousse, mocha mousse, fennel crema, and fennel gelato.

In July, Mixson, a new development in the Park Circle district, unveiled the farm-to-table taquería Básico at 4399 McCarthy Street. The kitchen team comprises of co-executive chefs Leila Schardt and Italo Marino, who before cooking locally at Monza and Closed for Business, cut their teeth in New York City under Michael White and Daniel Boulud, respectively. Pastry chefs are Vincent Griffith and Anister Meffert, both of whom recently worked in Chicago at Moto Restaurant. Everything on the menu is produced in-house, and a kitchen garden ensures that the produce is hyper local. Apps ($3 to $8): charred octopus with arugula, pickled onions, and serrano peppers; chicharrones with chile and lime. Mains ($9 to $13): fried chicken tacos with pickled watermelon rind, queso fresco, cilantro, and lime crema. Desserts ($2 to $6): Mexican Coke cake with strawberries, raspberries, and vanilla ice cream.

Creole Cuisine Restaurant Concepts, the company behind Le Bayou Restaurant and Royal House Oyster Bar, among others, opened Kingfish at 337 Chartres Street in April. Running the kitchen is NOLA culinary luminary Greg Sonnier, who lost his acclaimed restaurant Gabrielle to Hurricane Katrina. Seating 145 guests, the casual space evokes the Art Deco era of former Louisiana Governor Huey Long (nicknamed the Kingfish). Creole Cuisine veteran Shad Stearns is general manager, and celebrated bartender Chris McMillian runs the beverage program. Sonnier prepares traditional Creole fare, but with a delicate touch. Apps ($6 to $15): crayfish salad with fried green tomatoes and rémoulade; smoked rabbit gumbo with sorrel, sausage, and dirty brown basmati rice. Mains ($18 to $30): fried boneless whole fish stuffed with pickled mirliton, cornbread dressing, and chow-chow; “junky chick” (rotisseried chicken injected with a Cajun marinade and dusted with herbes de provence, with applewood-smoked bacon bits and smashed potatoes).