Via Sophia + Society Now Open in DC featuring APP Art Program

A Fiola Mare Alum Opens a Fancy New |All-Day Osteria Downtown

Via Sophia and a hidden cocktail bar will debut in the Hamilton Hotel

by Tierney Plumb
Jun 11, 2019, 1:24pm EDT
Photos by Rey Lopez/Eater DC

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The Hamilton Hotel is ready to unveil the final pieces of its multi-million dollar renovation downtown at the corner of 14th and K Streets NW. An Italian restaurant specializing in Neapolitan pizza and a glamorous, postage stamp-sized bar serving cocktails and caviar are both scheduled to open tomorrow.

Following a full lobby transformation and guest room refresh, the historic 318-room hotel is replacing its outdated 14K restaurant with an all-day osteria called Via Sophia. A dark, library-themed bar called Society is hidden off the lobby.

The anticipated two-part venture is helmed by an all-star hospitality cast that includes Via Sophia executive chef Colin Clark, who’s amassed an impressive East Coast resume by working under several James Beard Award Winners (Marc Vetri, Jeff Michaud, and Fabio Trabocchi). He was also part of Le Diplomate’s opening team in 2013. Most most recently, Clark was chef de cuisine at Trabocchi’s Georgetown Harbor darling, Fiola Mare.

Via Sophia (1001 14th Stree NW) will open with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There’s also an weekday happy hour for apertivos and a late-night pizza menu. Weekend brunch will join the mix later this summer.

European cutting boards double as wall art near the 10-seat pizza bar overlooking the cooking action.

European cutting boards double as wall art near the 10-seat pizza bar overlooking the cooking action.

In Clark’s new post, he hopes to breathe new life into the same block as The Washington Post’s headquarters overlooking tree-lined Franklin Square.

“We are going for upscale — this is 14th and K and we are trying to make it a dining destination,” Clark tells Eater.

Since wood-fired Neapolitan pizza is Via Sophia’s star attraction, the staff went the extra mile to elevate their pie-making skills. Clark and sous chef Cameron Willis trained under master pizzaiola Roberto Caporuscio, owner of New York City’s Keste Pizza & Vino and Don Antonio (named “#1 Pizza in New York” by New York Magazine).

Oak wood fed into the oven to maintain its required 650-degree temperature is stocked across Via Sophia.

Oak wood fed into the oven to maintain its required 650-degree temperature is stocked across Via Sophia.

Five seasonal pizzas at Via Sophia include a classic Margherita — with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and fresh basil — and Fra Diavlo (salame picante, fresno chiles, red onion, buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes).

Even the staff floating around will be dressed to the nines. Ashley Blazer Biden, Joe Biden’s daughter, designed the hotel’s new stylish black-and-white uniforms in collaboration with Livelihood.

Atlanta-based Art Consulting Firm, Amy Parry Projects, helped curate a custom art collection that weaves old and new elements across Via Sophia. Think nostalgic antique metal pizza peels juxtaposed with modern photography and abstract art pieces.

Italy’s go-to table water San Pellegrino doubles as glowing green wall decor, alongside retro images of women posing along scenic shores.

Italy’s go-to table water San Pellegrino doubles as glowing green wall decor, alongside retro images of women posing along scenic shores.

Clark’s most recent cooking stint at seafood-focused Fiola Mare is evident across its underwater section of dishes. A grilled Norwegian salmon features a traditional Spanish romesco sauce, alongside charred broccolini, pine nuts, and black garlic dressing. A minimalist presentation of black bass, accented with baby squash, asparagus tips, morels, and a golden beet border, lets the fish shine.

DesignONE Studio is behind the look of Via Sophia and Society.

DesignONE Studio is behind the look of Via Sophia and Society.

Southern Italian-inspired dishes include bruschetta built on a house-baked semolina loaf; tagliata di manzo (sliced steak) with charred spring onion, confit cherry tomatoes, balsamic reduction, arugula, and barolo jus; and monkfish ossobuco, with sauce livornese, clams, olives, capers, fennel, and potatoes.

“This is very in line with my background — the whole idea is a balance between rustic and modern,” Clark says. “We knock the rustic element out of the park — it was a decision early on to make bread, pizza, and pasta in house.”

Chicken al mattone (crispy artichokes, guanciale, peppers, maitake mushrooms, chicken jus) is “as old school rustic as it gets” he adds.

Carb-driven entrees include ravioli finochietta, with asparagus tips, fava beans, morels, and fresh parmigiana. Pappardelle comes with rabbit ragu, ramps, pecorino and Castelvetrano olives.

Antipasto orders include caponata-toasted eggplant with San Marzano tomatoes, golden raisins and pine nuts. Meat and cheese boards feature prosciutto di parma aged 24 months.

Wines and spirits hailing from Italy largely make up the drinks section, with some 120 wine bottles available. Local makers from D.C. and Virginia also contribute to the craft beer and spirits selection.

Society, inspired by Prohibition-era secret societies and private clubs from the art deco period, features just 14 seats. Fancy bar snacks include caviar with panna cotta, nuts, and Sicilian olives. Zack Faruki, an alum of Michelin-starred Fiola, is leading a mixology program.

Wines by the glass start at $20, and big spenders can also peruse from a rare collection of reds with a few bottles dancing near the $700 mark.

Seductive details at Society include dark distressed leather, gothic-style candlestick wall sconces, and diamond glass chandeliers.

Seductive details at Society include dark distressed leather, gothic-style candlestick wall sconces, and diamond glass chandeliers.

Society is an ode to renowned French-born architect Jules-Henrí de Sibour, who originally designed the hotel in 1922. The Prohibition-era architect was a member of Yale’s Skull and Bones Society. Framed hand drawings and photos taken from his time at Yale line the walls.

Hours are Tuesday and Wednesday, 5 p.m. to midnight; and Thursday through Saturday until 1 a.m.

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Currently Inspired By...

When we discover new artists or get blown away by new work from some of our old favorites, we do our best to share the work and hopefully pass on the inspired feeling. It is a very exciting time to work in hospitality design and we have enough ideas for any kind of project.

Here's to the beauty of endless possibilities!

Please let us know how we can contribute custom art to what you're working on  this summer.

Lyla Lila Announcement - Art Consulting by AP Projects

Lyla Lila will bring house-made
pasta to
Midtown this fall

The restaurant from Craig Richards and Billy Streck is set to open in lilli Midtown later this year

By Carly Cooper - May 30, 2019


A rendering of Lyla Lila | Courtesy of Smith Hanes Studio

Last year, Craig Richards left his position as vice president of culinary for Ford Fry Restaurants and executive chef at St. Cecilia and joined forces with restaurateur Billy Streck (Hampton & Hudson, Nina & Rafi, Cypress Street Pint & Plate). The duo soon discovered they had more in common than a love of food: their daughters share a name. So it only made sense to express that connection through the name of their new restaurant, Lyla Lila. (Richards’s daughter is Lyla; Streck’s daughter’s middle name is Lila.)

“We had 30 names on the table, but this makes it a lot more personal to us,” Richards says. “The restaurant is an expression of us.”

Located in the lilli Midtown building at the corner of 3rd and Peachtree streets, the food at Lyla Lila is inspired by the cuisines of southern Italy and Spain. It will include house-made pasta and wood-fired meats and seafood, along with Old World wines and seasonal cocktails.

Pasta options will include smoked squash and ricotta caramelle with spiced pumpkin seeds and sumac; and tomato leaf pappardelle with pork and beef cheek ragu and charred peppers. There will be two risottos on the menu, along with entrees such as a pork porterhouse with eggplant and oysters; and a whole-roasted fishtail with smoked onions and lemon butter, served with an anchovy and arugula salad. Sides include a salt-roasted sweet potato with fermented chili butter, while appetizers will include lamb croquettes with fennel pollen aioli and a wood-grilled lettuce salad with rye croutons, wild oregano, and yogurt dressing.

The beverage program will focus on seasonal cocktails and Old World wines, along with both local and European-style beers in bottles, cans, and a few drafts.

“This food lends itself really well to sparkling wines, so we’ll have an expanded sparking wine program,” Richards says. “We want the beverage side and the kitchen to be a reflection of each other.”

When Lyla Lila opens in early fall, it will serve dinner seven days a week. Weekend brunch will follow, along with weekday lunch. Smith Hanes Studio is designing the 4,000-square-foot space.

“In developing the concept, we pulled out some old vinyl—Miles Davis, Duran Duran, old Madonna—and got inspiration that way,” Streck says. “You might see some vinyl playing on a turntable. We’re definitely encouraging an after-dinner crowd.”

Expect a wooden floor with tiles that merge into the horseshoe bar area. There’s an area with cafe tables and banquettes for cocktails, a dining room, and a 25-seat private room. The Peachtree Street-facing patio is designed for people-watching, while a second patio in the cocktail area features a fireplace as a throwback to Cypress Street’s sizable firepit.

“We want the patio to be a beacon if you’re coming from either side of town,” Richards says.

And if all goes according to plan, Richards says, Lyla Lila will have the energy and vibrancy of his daughter, who is “extremely excited” about having a restaurant named after her.

Currently Inspired By...

More and more we are honoring requests to show art options with greater depth and texture. For this last Inspiration Board of the year, we would like to share a “few of our favorite (dimensional) things.”

There is so much to love about three-dimensional art; how it can punctuate a space and accentuate the overall design. Please click through these options in wood, glass, metal, fiber, porcelain and even just thickly applied paint.

The Wonderful Work of Eileen Braun

A couple of weeks ago we had an amazing studio visit with mixed media sculptor Eileen Braun and were fascinated by her transition in materials - from ceramics to rattan - in the creation of her extraordinary, otherworldly vessels.

Eileen Braun , Smoke , 2017, rattan reed, wax, pigment and string

Eileen Braun, Smoke, 2017, rattan reed, wax, pigment and string

We are sharing here, her description of the work and a glimpse at what she has been working on.

"In 2016, I put my clay work on hold and sought a new media less demanding of material constraints. After a lot of experimentation, I found it in encaustic wax and rattan weed. As I make the work, the forms grow increasingly more complex. Their sizes range from 3 - 7 feet high and the deep shadows (not easily shown in images), provide a completely different personal experience. The work is deceivingly light, weighing in at a mere 2- 6 pounds.

My art mirrors natural forms with a biomorphic edge. Often the exact life cycle stage one is viewing is too complex to pin down.  Is it focused on seed, mature growth, or the desiccation of this system? I leave that up to the viewer.

Movement, texture and complexity of form are integral to the work as well.  My hope is that the viewer will be drawn in by the shape. While approaching, they will be intrigued by the ever-changing views because one can see both through and around the form simultaneously. The texture, shadow and line created by the materials add to the multidimensional cornucopia of delights.

Process: The sculptures are constructed from rattan reed, encaustic wax, cotton string, and glue. In some instances I have added dress-makers pattern tissue - influenced by my research of Japanese Akari lamps.  The rattan reed is left natural or occasionally pre-stained; soaked, manipulated and secured at all junctions with cotton string.  Additional elements to the sculpture are constructed or texturized with encaustic wax. The exoskeletons in many instances have been en-robed in wax, giving them the appearance of metalwork."

Enjoy the work and imagine the possibilities - tabletop installations, wall-hangings, ceiling installations...

Just exquisite!