On a recent Friday afternoon, a steady stream of locals and passers-by took turns calling for orders for espresso drinks, ice cream and midday snacks at the Italian Bar, a narrow, sun-drenched spot for Roman-style delicacies in DC’s northwest.
Italian bar (5008 Connecticut Avenue NW), the tiny new neighborhood counterpart to neighborhood favorite “I’m Eddie Cano”, is an all-around coffee shop and full range of cocktail services. The cash-only, non-tipping café (an 18% surcharge applies to non-retail items) serves pastries for breakfast and quick caffeine during the day, and paninis and sandwiches during the afternoon and evening hours. The small list of alcoholic beverages mostly includes wines and amaro, as well as a few draft beers and cocktails to keep things light and casual.
The Italian bar opens daily at 7am, with varying closing times (depending on the day).
“Lovely all-round bar exclusively Italian,” says Caroline Papetti, a sommelier who owns the business with her husband, Massimo. The couple created the Italian bar as an extension of the hospitable hospitality that emerged when their trendy Italian-American favorite “I’m Eddie Cano” opened in 2018.
There is no seating other than a small patio, and a mirror on the back wall of the bar ensures baristas can see (and interact with) guests while manually operating the espresso machine in the center of the bar.
“It’s part of the culture of enjoying coffee,” says Papetti.
The rich drinks menu features classic dishes prepared with Lavazza espresso. One of the Italian favorites served on the spot is Shakerato, a frothy espresso with ice. American drip coffee and cold drink are also options.
A small tap system will feature wine, beer and a couple of fizzy Italian cocktails. Expect Aperol spritz and negroni “sbagliato”, which uses sparkling wine instead of gin. Bar visitors can also order Italian wines, bitters and other spirits.
Along with the coffee program, the best ice cream maker Carpigiani in the Italian bar produces more than a dozen flavors such as pistachio and gianduja, a mixture of chocolate and hazelnuts. Walking Window sends one ($4.95) or two ($5.95) flavor cups and cones to help deal with the DC heat outside.
The same savory dishes found in cafes and piazzas in Rome complete the Chevy Chase menu. There’s a rotating selection of light tramezzini ($3.25) and focaccia ripiena ($6.25) sandwiches stuffed with ingredients like smoked salmon and stracchino cheese or mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.
The sunny space is brought together by design elements such as Roman brick floor tiles, an open window to the ice cream kitchen, and a wooden breakfast bar restored by Papetti and her family. Several shelves filled with Italian food and drink are also on display for purchase.
Papetti hopes that Washingtonians will take the opportunity to connect and be closer to each other again.
“The timing is right,” she says of the opening. “People want to be seen and they want to communicate.”
Next up for the couple: Opening a pizza place next door in the old Arcuri space in Glover Park next month.