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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 03/25/2009

Potenza Opens: An Italian Option in Downtown

By Julia Beizer

One of the plush booths at the now-open Potenza in downtown Washington. (Julia Beizer)

Today, the Italian-accented Potenza officially opens in downtown Washington, bringing a collection of pastas, pizzas and salumis to the historic Woodward Building at H and 15th Street. The good news for those of us who like lower price tags: most of the entrees are between $12 and $24.

"The food represents all of Italy," Stir Food Group CEO Dan Mesches said during a tour of the space last week. "But the design evokes Tuscany." You can see some of those villa-like flourishes in accents like geometric tiles, globe-shaped light fixtures and a couple church-pews-turned-booths that are meant to call to mind a confessional. Diners in the 175-seat main room will be able to peer into the open kitchen.

When designing the bar, Mesches said he drew on his experiences at the late Red Sage restaurant, which was also close to the White House. Flat-screen televisions tuned into a variety of news channels were a must for the politicos who he hopes will visit the 42-seat bar. "They're built into the design [just above a wall of wine refrigerators] so that it doesn't feel like a sports bar," he says.

Expect outdoor seating on 15th Street and a bakery to come this spring.

-- Julia

By Julia Beizer  | March 25, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  
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Just tried to go and they're not open for lunch until the 6th! Sigh.

Posted by: DCfreedumb | March 25, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Hey! I'm so sorry about this! I was given completely incorrect information about the restaurant's hours. Had I known, I certainly would have specified.

Posted by: Julia Beizer | March 25, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

This place is excellent. The wait staff is very nice, the food is excellent and is at a reasonable price. If they can keep what they have started in tact (good food, great service) this will be one of the top spots in DC to dine and/or hang out. All of the managers we met the other night were service oriented, good guys. Try the meatballs and the gnocchi!

Posted by: hnosh | March 28, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

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