John Melfi Replaces Tony Conte As Executive Chef Of The Oval Room

After nine years with The Oval Room in Washington, D.C., executive chef Tony Conte has left the restaurant to open Pizzeria Inferno in a yet-unnamed location, reports The Washington Post.

Under Conte's guidance, The Oval Room has consistently earned top honors from The Washingtonian as one of the best restaurants in D.C., and was awarded three stars from Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema only a few months ago.

In the summer of 2014, the Oval Room underwent a $1 million renovation that Sietsema compared to the kind of face-lift that "[makes] people think you've been on vacation."

In his place, restaurateur Ashok Bajaj has named John Melfi as the new executive chef. Previously, Melfi has been the executive chef of Fiola Mare under James Beard Award-winning chef and owner Fabio Trabocchi, and the chef de cuisine at the acclaimed Blue Duck Tavern.

Pizzeria Inferno from chef Conte is expected to open in March, and will feature Neapolitan cuisine as well as a small sample of dishes similar to what he created at The Oval Room.