The Dish: Schlow’s Empire in a Day

by Catherine Trifiletti

Brunch, Lunch and dinner at Michael Schlow’s popular eateries.

The Riggsby (Photo by Scott Suchman)

The Riggsby (Photo by Scott Suchman)

Michael Schlow does what he wants. Being a chef in Boston didn’t stop him from bringing his culinary concepts to Washington and being a kid from Brooklyn didn’t dictate the food he would cook. In Washington alone he has unfurled two Italian restaurants, one American and one Spanish. Unfazed by state lines or international boundaries, Schlow’s eclectic taste is a testament to his talent and versatility.

Washington’s evolution into an exciting food destination made the Boston-based restaurateur want to “throw his hat in the ring” years ago. The ring itself is dynamic, giving way to a host of up and coming chefs trying their luck with innovative concepts in hip evolving neighborhoods. But Schlow relies on neither to make his five Washington eateries solid dining options. Despite our best efforts we couldn’t manage to try them all, so Alta Strada and its sister restaurant Conosci, a small crudo bar next door, will have to wait until round two. Let the three we did conquer serve as a guide to the emerging empire of Schlow. >>

TICO (BRUNCH) A part of the 14th Street corridor’s exuberant brunch scene, the vibe in Tico screams “weekend.” Bartenders mix cocktails utilizing 140 varieties of tequila in the colorful art-laden space (don’t forget the art on the ceiling).While the menu offers old favorites like an open faced omelette and a burger for less adventurous diners, it’s the less expected dishes that shine. A quick Google image search proves that the caramelized banana pancakes with crunchy hazelnuts are a widely-revered option, and for good reason, because the popular dish has no bad angles. For more savory-seeking brunch-goers, the crispy exterior on the crunchy and spicy fried chicken will stick with you all day. DRINK: Hibiscus Margarita 100 percent Blue Agave tequila, citronge, lime, lemon and hibiscus

1926 14th Street, NW 202-319-1400

CASOLARE (LUNCH) Located in the Kimpton Glover Park Hotel, Casolare is a nod to Schlow’s Italian travels, spotlighting fresh coastal cuisine from Southern Italy. His newest Washington establishment proves an ideal spot for a light weekday lunch. A chilled “Capri style” seafood salad of sweet scallops, shrimp, calamari rings and mussels is simply dressed with olive oil, lemon, black pepper and bits of biting Fresno chiles.Although every pasta dish but one is made in-house, a server recommends the cauliflower orecchiette above all others, saying it might be the best pasta he’s ever eaten. He needn’t have said more. The large circular discs cooked to al dente perfection hold their own next to tender chunks of cauliflower and crunchy bread crumbs.The only way to upgrade the meal would be with an order of cannolis and we’re not above that. DRINK: A glass of Vermentino

2505 Wisconsin Avenue, NW 202-625-6400

THE RIGGSBY (DINNER) The Riggsby, located in the lobby of the Carlyle Hotel, is Schlow’s answer to a classic American speakeasy – rich burgundy booths and Everest green walls make you want to sit back and listen to Sinatra crooning overhead, martini in hand. Gatsby would surely approve. For starters, the creamy burrata is a winner as it’s paired with seasonally appropriate ingredients (peaches, coppa and balsamic).The deviled eggs live up to the hype as does the beef carpaccio – thin medallions of meat anchored by rich golden olive oil, a medley of shaved mushrooms and fresh Parmesan chips. If there is room for an entrée, the pork chop is tender and flavorful and if dessert beckons, respond with an order of velvety Tahitian vanilla creme brulée. DRINK: Last Frontier bourbon, Amaretto, lemon and cinnamon

1731 New Hampshire Avenue, NW 202-787-1500

This article appeared in our November 2016 print issue. 

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