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Following a full lobby transformation and guest room refresh, the historic 318-room hotel is replacing its outdated 14K restaurant with an all-day osteria called Via Sophia.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.
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).
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.
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.
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.