Italian restaurant Lupo Verde, which opened on Feb. 24, is one of the latest additions to Washington, D.C.’s 14th Street corridor. The full-service, traditional spot is also home to a cheese and charcuterie shop. Located at the intersection of 14th and T, Lupo Verde (literally, green wolf in Italian) is a renovated, two-level space that can seat 100 patrons, features two full-service bars, and an outdoor patio that seats 40. Co-owner Antonio Matarazzo told The Daily Meal that he wants his restaurant to be a cozy, approachable neighborhood hangout in a sea of more conspicuous ones. Matarazzo’s passion for food and drink exudes as he talks about his authentic Italian menu offerings. He believes in sourcing local ingredients (he refers to it as a “kilometer zero” mentality, referring to the distance food has to travel before it reaches a plate) as Lupo Verde's menu features local and small producers, and many cured meats and cheeses are made in-house.
The menu showcases an array of rustic, traditional, southern-Italian fare, featuring regional dishes created by chef Domenico Apolloaro, who hails from Italy’s Southern Calabria region. It's approachable, undeniably Italian and is slated to showcase a different region of Italy's food on a monthly basis.
During a media dinner, I sampled a variety of featured items ranging from the house-made cured meats and bread to rich desserts and unique cocktails. My favorite dishes included the house-made pasta (which looks rustic and carries lots of sauce) and the RA2 pizza. The pasta dishes packed a flavorful punch. The Maltagliati alla Norma pasta was topped with rich homemade ricotta, roasted eggplant, and juicy cherry tomatoes. The Gemelli Cacio and Pepe featured homemade pasta with a light Parmigiano and Pecorino sauce and spicy peppercorns. The dynamic flavors of each dish sent my taste buds spiraling out of control. If pizza is more your thing, definitely check out the RA2. It features mozzarella, stracchino, mortadella, pistachio, radicchio, and honey. I’m vegetarian, so I got it without the mortadella, but I was not disappointed. It was salty, sweet, and tangy, all in one bite.
While you’re at it, be sure to try a house-made spirit. If you’re in the mood for something that's not as sweet, check out the Lupo Alberto with rye, fennel, and house-made bitters, ormy favorite of the evening, L’Americano. It ‘s a gin-based drink with actual coffee grounds that gave the drink an unexpected twist. The alcohol menu is long and even includes a few wines “on tap.”
If you’d rather do take-out, Lupo Verde plans to offer is a “lazy box” of the day. The to-go box will contain an entrée, some bread, and maybe a salad; you can basically expect whatever is on the menu for the day. The lazy box aims to expose those who have never had traditional, prepared-with-love Italian food, and don’t have time for a full sit-down meal. Think of it as a delicious alternative to a pack of top ramen for dinner.
Overall, the big take-home (apart from the lazy box) is that Lupo Verde is a neighborhood place, where residents can come and hang out, sample a flavorful yet affordable menu and drink approachable wine — which is pretty much as authentically Italian as you can get.