Jump to content
Lori Gardner

Ghibellina, Italian Gastropub with a Huge Bar on 14th and Corcoran Street

Recommended Posts

We went to the new Ghibellina on 14th Street last night.  The good news:  thoroughly enjoyed the bianca pizza with rapini, mozzarella, garlic, calabrian chilies,fennel seed, and pecorino romano.  The crust was perfectly charred and flavorful.  I prefer pizzas that retain their crispness, and this pizza did just that.  It was one of the best pizzas we've had in awhile, and we've been eating pizza quite a bit lately.  We also enjoyed the fresh ingredients in the Insalata Ghibellina - arugula, avocado, confit, tomatoes, emmenthaler, pine nuts, pesto.

My husband and I shared Spaghetti Alla Trabaccolara.  The menu listed the ingredients as tomato, white wine, cod, pollack, golden tilefish, and fennel.  The dish arrived and I was a little disappointed in the fact that the pieces of fish were small and not very plentiful. Then I noticed that one of the fish had been replaced with squid. My husband keeps kosher and squid is not okay.  We called the server over and she apologized and said that the chef frequently toys with the ingredients in this dish.  I don't really think it's appropriate to add shellfish to a dish and not alert diners.  There are people who are severely allergic to shellfish, not to mention others who don't eat it for religious reasons.  Before leaving we asked to speak to a manager, and he echoed the server in saying that the chef had made changes to the dish.

I was really enjoying Ghibellina until the squid incident.  I still think it's a great place for pizza.  But I feel that the staff minimized the situation with squid.  Any kind of dietary restrictions require the diner to take responsibility for inquiring about ingredients.  But a restaurant should also take responsibility when they substitute one ingredient for another- particularly if it's something that may have an adverse effect on their patrons.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Meet the Artichoke, Nostraliana Olive and Tomato Confit Pizza:

post-125-0-67265900-1372705555_thumb.jpe

Starting this Tuesday: half-priced pizzas similar to this will be available during Happy Hour(s) from 4:30-6:30 Tuesday through Sunday, at the bars only.

Drink specials also abound.

For pizza geeks, it's a NY-Neapolitan style pie, utilizing the wood-fired oven and great ingredients common in Neapolitan pizze, but with a lower temperature and longer bake time. The pizza is not soup. It's foldable. It's delicious. And we slice it for you, if you want us to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We officially opened for brunch this weekend.

Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30-4 you can find a selection of dishes from our dinner menu, plus additional brunch plates such as Shakshouka, Shrimp and Polenta (with poached eggs), French Toast with Almonds and Peaches, Frittata and Piadina.

The restaurant switches over to the dinner menu at 4. Happy Hour starts at 4:30 at the bar. Half Priced pizze and drink specials abound.

Please come by and visit.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Jonathan. I did happen to stop by and visit early Saturday afternoon, and had an enjoyable lunch at the bar. I liked my small portion of (obviously homemade, and perfectly cooked) spaghetti, as well as a plate of very thinly sliced octopus, with chickpeas and fried capers. Both dishes were really tasty, though honestly both were also a bit oily for me. Washed down with a refreshing 10oz draft Peroni for $4.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To honor our long-time member Jonathan Copeland - who, in case anyone doesn't know, was Sous Chef at Palena, and opening Chef de Cuisine at Palena Café - I decided to take him up on his cocky message to me which basically said, 'Stop in sometime if you want to have the best pizza in the entire DC area.'

Well ...

I got there early, super early, about 5 PM - nominally to find parking and a bar seat; actually to drink and drink cheaply.

Ghibellina has one of the best happy hour menus in town, and I plumbed its depths like I was snaking a drain. Here we go:

Rebuli Prosecco ($5) - Served in a beautiful Luigi Bormioli Champagne glass, with about a 4-5 ounce pour, this was an elegant Prosecco - "elegant" for me means "crisp, dry, and no off-flavors," as Prosecco (like Cava) is not my favorite sparkling wine; but this was good.

Estate in Toscana ($6) - One of three happy-hour cocktails, made with House Gin (Gordon's), lime juice, pineapple juice (not too much), and basil.

Beauvignac "Syrah Rosé" ($5) - Oh yeah, this is your wine. From from the Languedoc-Rousillion region, it's a Vin de Pays from Côes de Thau, and has none of the excessive grapiness that is often found from this region. Not bone dry in the least, but a good pizza rosé that will make you happy.

Pizza time!

Olive E Carciofi ($8.50 (!)) - Eight-fifty for this thing? *Eight* *Fifty*?! This was a huge, four-slice pizza made with Nostraliana (Leccino) olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, smoked mozzarella, basil, garlic, and peperoncino. Hyperbole time: this was the best pizza I've ever had that cost less than $10 (note, these are all happy-hour prices, happy hour running Tue-Sun 4:30-6:30). Yep, not only that - it was a contender for best pizza in the DC area, just like Jonathan boasted it would be - he was right. An unbelievable Neapolitan hybrid, its char was right on the boundary of acceptable, but never crossed that boundary. Served uncut, but with pizza scissors, it's best cut into quarters, picked up, folded, and enjoyed a la New York slice. An incredible pizza that is vaulting Ghibellina right to the top of DC's pizza scene.

Salsicce E Cipolla ($8.50) - No, I didn't eat it at Ghibellina (I was dining solo), but I sure as heck got it to go. Sausage, provolone, wood-roasted onions, oregano, peperoncino, and grana - I had some cold, and while I don't think it's quite the pie that the Olive E Carciofi is, it's awesome all the same. I enthusiastically Facebooked Jonathan (who is out of town for a wedding) on the way home, raving about the pizzas, and he said, and I quote, "Put a sheet tray in your oven and heat it to 350 or 400 for a few minutes. Then throw the pizza in for 5 or so minutes to reheat and refresh" - so that's how you reheat it properly.

This was my first visit to Ghibellina, and needless to say, based on this one visit, I'm enthusiastically bumping it up to Italic. 

Is it better than Etto? I'll be having Ghibellina and Etto several times over the next few months, and I will sort it out on an objective, consistent basis. By all means, take note of what other people say, but please trust my pizza palate - it's a damned good one, if I do say so myself. :) And this pizza was fantastic.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the heads up, Don!  In between Etto, my beloved Pupatella, and pizzas at home - I haven't given Ghibellina any consideration.  I'll be hitting the happy hour this week. Will report back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...

Ghibellina has one of the best happy hour menus in town, and I plumbed its depths like I was snaking a drain. Here we go:

...

^ A decent example of the difference between a food writer and those who write stuff about food?  I think so but, then again, I'm not so qualified to judge.  I am qualified to say I enjoyed and was entertained by that vivid phrasing.

More substantively, between the Palena pedigree, the great raves above and the fact that I'm clearly behind on the local pizza scene not having been to Etto yet either, I will get to Ghibellina asap.  Perhaps both naiive and clueless; certainly less-than-fully-informed, I still think of 2Amys as top of the heap pizza 'round here.  To be continued...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I very much appreciate the advice Chef Copeland shared via Don about the proper way to reheat 'za. I used it last night on a pizza from a competitor who shall not be named (I'm in NoVA, and about to get my hip replacement from two years ago fixed, so no adventures for me, food or otherwise, until this is resolved), and it worked beautifully. Picking things up like that is one of the pleasures of this site, and Don's stewardship makes it possible.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Question for Jonathan or anyone else who might know.  On the restaurant's website under "About Us, " it says:

Ghibellina is an Italian Gastro Pub brought to you by the owners of Acqua al 2, Ari Gejdenson and Ralph Lee.  The inspiration behind this project was drawn from their days living in Firenze.  On a daily basis the two would eat lunch at their favorite restaurant, Trattoria Mario and fell in love with the idea of creating a comfortable place where diners feel at home every time they walk through the door. The name is derived from the street, Via Ghibellina, where the two shared an apartment on one end and own an American Diner on the other.  Executive Chef, Jonathan Copeland, has teamed up with this duo and has matched their passion and dedication to executing an authentic Tuscan menu in the heart of the 14th street Corridor.

So, given the restaurant's wonderful inspiration, any plans for weekday lunch anytime soon?  Grazie.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At the moment we are stretching our legs with brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Next up will be opening on Monday nights. If all goes well, and we feel the neighborhood can support it, week day lunch is a possibility.

Trattoria Mario in Florence is only open for lunch. They do not serve dinner at all. And it truly is an amazing and warm place. There are people who eat lunch there every day. Like, seriously, every day for years.

And MsDiPesto, I'm glad it all worked out with the pizza that shall remain nameless. And good luck with the surgery. I wish you a speedy recovery.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had  an early dinner (at the very crowded) bar yesterday for happy hour. I have to agree, that the pizzas were pretty damn good. Nice char on the crust and quite flavorful. We got a Margherita and the one with the olives and artichokes. 2 pizzas, 2 cocktails (which were also very tasty) and our bill was like $30. Great addition to the DC pizza scene! Would definitely go back to try some of the other menu items..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had  an early dinner (at the very crowded) bar yesterday for happy hour. I have to agree, that the pizzas were pretty damn good. Nice char on the crust and quite flavorful. We got a Margherita and the one with the olives and artichokes. 2 pizzas, 2 cocktails (which were also very tasty) and our bill was like $30. Great addition to the DC pizza scene! Would definitely go back to try some of the other menu items..

Concur.  This is a great happy hour deal -- hope they don't jack up the prices after a while.  Really good pizzas, cocktails, beer.  Also had the Arpaccio di Piovra off the main menu -- chilled thinly sliced octopus, chickpeas, braised arugula, smoked paprika and (nice touch) crispy capers -- which was also excellent, although not bargain-priced ($13).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We at Ghibellina are honored to be a part of the Fall Dining Guide and the Greater DC Dining Community. If you haven't checked us out yet, please do come. We serve traditional Tuscan fare as well as a unique pizza that I can only describe as a hybrid between the old NY pizza joints like Lombardi's and Totonno's and Neapolitan pizza.

post-125-0-88424500-1381863498_thumb.jpg

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We at Ghibellina are honored to be a part of the Fall Dining Guide and the Greater DC Dining Community. If you haven't checked us out yet, please do come. We serve traditional Tuscan fare as well as a unique pizza that I can only describe as a hybrid between the old NY pizza joints like Lombardi's and Totonno's and Neapolitan pizza.

Having had this pizza, I can say that this photo doesn't do it justice. It's *great*.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We love the pizza at Ghibellina. We've been to Ghibellina several times and to Etto several times and we prefer Ghibellina's pizza. Ghibellina's pizza competes with Puppatella's for best in the DC area, in our view. Every other dish we've had at Ghibellina, mostly brunch and salad dishes, have been excellent as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Winter is quickly approaching and Ghibellina is very proud of its Winter Menu (with still a few more additions to come). I hope to see some of you there, warming yourselves by the light of our wood-burning oven amidst wild boar, duck, well-charred pizzas and ribollita.

post-125-0-75015600-1386022881_thumb.jpg

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please join us at Ghibellina for Valentine's Day dinner. We are having a 4 course menu with choices in each course as well as pizzas and other menu options available at the bar.

post-125-0-40598800-1390519611_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ghibellina seems to always be crowded, and justifiably so. The other evening, I was able to get the last bar seat, and had a fantastic dinner.

This is not at all specific to Ghibellina, but the price of wines by the glass in this town is nudging me back to being the beer lover I once was. A draft of Ellie's Brown Ale ($9 for 20 ounces) by Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, CO is another example of my recent love affair with Brown Ales. Whenever I see one, I pretty much stop looking at the menu.

Happy hour had just ended, and the menus had been taken from the bar, so there was no temptation to order a bargain pizza. I'm glad this happened because I had the good fortune to try the Pollo Ruspante Al Mattone ($23) - a free-range, very high-quality chicken cooked under a brick in a thin, rich, brown sauce that - were it not for its lack of viscosity - could have been some type of mole. Whatever it was, and I have no idea what it was, it was fantastic - seemingly containing chocolate, cinnamon, etc., but not at all sweet. Jonathan, if you see this, could you chime in and describe this wonderful sauce?

And also your chicken which is obviously of very high quality. With this level of quality comes a higher price tag, and this $23 dish was served a la carte - no vegetable, no starch. I'm glad it was, too, because I got a chance to order Ghibellina's excellent Cavolo Nero Toscano ($8), a plate of sautéed black Tuscan kale that was cooked and seasoned to perfection.

Between the two dishes, I had virtually no carbs (except for the beer, of course), and the portions were hearty enough where I took about 1/3 of the food home (in a very environmentally friendly container which was right there at the bar) and enjoyed the rest of it later that evening. Despite the healthy portions, I'd bet this meal - beer notwithstanding - had under 1,000 calories, and yet could not have been any more satisfying.

Ghibellina is being raised to the #1 slot in 14UP in the Dining Guide. Do you folks realize just how good this restaurant is? Due to the sheer size of its menu, I award this ranking with some trepidation, partly because I just haven't plumbed its depths enough to be confident, but mainly because the ranking is only going to last for one day: the next night, I had the two best things I've ever eaten in 14UP - so Ghibellina will be falling to the #2 slot, at least temporarily, until I can sort through this.

But rankings are just a bunch of arbitrary malarky - each restaurant has its own strengths and weaknesses, and Ghibellina is one the greatest restaurants restaurants on 14th Street. Jonathan Copeland, if you'll recall, was Chef de Cuisine at Palena Cafe, and worked under Frank Ruta for many years. He is a great cook, and the food his kitchen is putting out - including the pizzas - is worthy of a special visit. If you haven't tried Ghibellina, you should, pronto.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree completely about Ghibellina. It is our favorite restaurant in the 14th Street area and we've tried most of them. It is Ghibellina that we keep coming back to. Their pizza is every bit as good as Pupatella's, whether you eat it in the restaurant or carry it out. The rest of the food offerings are very fine and the service is friendly and the ambience really cozy. I tell everyone about Ghibellina and I'm always surprised at how many people have never heard of it. My only 'complaint' would be that to order carry-out pizza you have to order in person at the bar -- you can't phone in your order.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the kind words Don and Laura. We are working very hard over here to just try and keep pace with the Pupatellas and 2 Amys of the world.

As for the chicken...the pan sauce is impossibly simple. It is just a very, very good Aged Balsamico, Chicken Stock and butter...along with the fond from the roasted chicken. We then finish the whole plate with a great olive oil.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What more to say, except that I completely agree that this place and their pizza is fantastic. The crust is perfect. The ambience is gorgeous - rustic and modern, at the same time. Cool red tile behind the bar. The service seems top notch (we were at the bar).

Bianca - my lady friend got this + arugula on top, not my usual order, but I liked it a lot. She wants to turn me on white pizza, and I think this got me there.

Margherita - what more to say - mozzarella, sauce, fresh basil, a perfect crust.

Either their crushed red pepper is super hot or the calabrian hot peppers on the bianca are super spicy, because my mouth was on fire at the end.

She had 2 sangrias. I had 2 Atlas Rye IPAs.

$44, plus some leftovers for the clinic staff that had to come in with me this morning. Are you freaking kidding me? This is the best happy hour deal around. The pizzas are half price, and the drinks are near half price.

Come at 5.30ish to the bar, have a few drinks, linger, get that pizza order in at 625p, go home early, sated, and very happy.

I'm not necessarily a Napoletena guy (Detroit upbringing - I'll take Jet's or Buddy's any day of the week, with no apologies), but I'd rank: Ghibellina's > Pupatella's > 2 Amy's > Orso. Yes, I know, it's like ranking supermodels.

S

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Either their crushed red pepper is super hot or the calabrian hot peppers on the bianca are super spicy, because my mouth was on fire at the end. 

Thanks for the kind words Simul. As for your observation regarding the crushed red pepper, you are spot on. We buy whole dried chili de arbol, then dry them out a bit more in an oven over night, and grind them ourselves. It's a task not for the faint of heart, and our prep cooks deserve a medal for enduring the chili vapor that pervades the whole kitchen. But it's well worth it.

Also, the Calabrian chili's are very spicy too. In a salty, spicy kind of way. I love cooking with them.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ramps are here!

Mozzarella di Bufala, Garlic, Pecorino Romano, Confit Cherry Tomatoes and our favorite early spring vegetable, Ramps.

For a limited time only.

The new spring menu also has: a porcini rubbed, dry-aged ribeye; suckling pig porchetta braised in milk and served with crispy testa and salsa verde; and francobolli en brodo (veal, mortadella and culatello stuffed ravioli in a beautifully clear and flavorful broth with spring vegetables).

And of course, one of the best happy hours in DC. Half-priced pizzas 7 days a week from 4-6:30 plus drink specials.

post-125-0-69301500-1398190235_thumb.jpg

post-125-0-49117700-1398190516_thumb.jpg

post-125-0-14716700-1398190683_thumb.jpg

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stopped by for happy hour here last week and was impressed.  Pizzas here has a lovely crisp light crust (reminds me of the fast rise version at Osteria in Philly) and they're a great deal during happy hour.  The octopus carpaccio appetizer I tried was perfect, it seemed a bit pricy on the menu, but the portion was quite generous.  The drinks I got were tasty too, nicely balanced and not too sweet.

I'm definitely coming back to try more of the menu and if I lived nearby, Ghibellina would certainly make it into my regular rotation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...