2033 M St. NW | Cuisine: Mediterranean | $$ | ★★★★☆
Within walking distance of Dupont Circle and seamlessly integrated into the lobby of the St. Gregory Hotel, Tredici Enoteca offers tasty but healthy Mediterranean fare at a surprisingly affordable price.
Owned and operated by the Zavino Hospitality Group, the restaurant opened its doors in October as a spinoff of Zavino, its sister restaurant in Philadelphia. Featuring menu items ranging from vegetable-based plates to a raw bar and flatbreads, Tredici Enoteca manages to elevate simple dishes to visually appealing, mouthwatering creations that are perfect for sharing.
Tredici Enoteca features a unique spatial layout with various dining options. The restaurant is split into three seating areas: To the left of the entrance is a bright bar area and to the right are two levels of tables — one atop a small staircase flanked by windows that provide natural light and the other nestled on the floor level — that provide customers with a more intimate dining experience.
All three spaces demonstrate the restaurant’s fascinating design, which blends vintage elements with modern accents. Dark woodwork and framed paintings are juxtaposed with large windows and brass accents, presenting a clean-cut, elegant eating space — a concept mimicked in its dishes.
Although it is mostly vegetable-focused with a whole menu section titled “Veggies,” the menu also spans a gamut of seafood, meat, salads and a variety of cheeses. My party began with the broccoli and avocado ($11) option from the vegetable section and raw tuna ($16). The first dish was simple and delicious. Cooked yet crunchy, the broccoli was accompanied by a ripe and soft avocado.
The amount of vinaigrette was just right; it gave the dish some kick without causing it to be too spicy or overpowering. The tuna also exemplified an artful mastery of flavor interaction. Each slice had a perfect drizzle of soy sauce and delicious taste profiles.
Both appetizers were placed in the middle of the table for sharing, as were our main courses, the roasted beet salad ($13) and the Israeli couscous salad ($13). The roasted beet salad contained kale, goat cheese, candied pecans and port reduction, while the Israeli salad featured soft couscous tossed in olive oil mixed with avocado, cherry tomatoes, basil, almonds and a generous helping of burrata. The beets in the first salad were perfectly cooked, and the Israeli couscous salad combined couscous and vegetables with a subtle nutty undertone, originating from the thinly sliced almond slivers.
All the food served was fresh and light, demonstrating how accessible household ingredients can be crafted into elevated dishes with layers of flavors.
The expertise of chef Carlos Aparicio, who moved from the Zavino location in Philly to work at Tredici Enoteca, honed his skill sets in various areas of gastronomy after moving between various restaurants in New York City and Philadelphia over the past few years.
The restaurant also features an extensive drink list. Our waitress explained that the staff had formal training in which they learned about each of the different drinks, including how to describe the relative acidity and fruitiness of the different wine selections. She also suggested wines that would work well with our meal and named the regions where each of the grapes were grown.
Despite boasting an elegant design, delicious dishes and expert wait staff, Tredici Enoteca does have one caveat: its quiet ambience. The lack of attendance is perhaps due to the restaurant’s adoption of the “soft opening” technique, meaning that there was no formal restaurant debut.
Rather, the owners opened the doors one day, aiming to garner business from passersby and hotel guests in order to slowly build a loyal customer base. The restaurant was almost entirely empty during my visit, and although the music playing in the background succeeded in filling the silence with its bouncy beats, the lack of general chatter proved a bit eerie.
The busiest meal is breakfast, since the space fills with hotel guests. At lunch and dinner, the restaurant, which has 60 table seats and 30 bar seats, tends to have a maximum of five or six tables filled at a time. Nonetheless, this may be an upside to any students looking for incredibly efficient service, affordable culinary masterpieces and a good study spot, given that the large tables could easily serve as comfortable platforms where textbooks could be spread out.