Lupo Verde bringing more Italian cuisine to 14th Street NW

When the team behind Lupo Verde started planning the restaurant at 14th and T streets NW more than two years ago, there weren't nearly as many Italian restaurants on the strip as now.

The 14th Street corridor has added quite a few Italian spots during the past year: there's Ghibellina, Etto, M Cafe and, if you count the pizza-focused restaurant, Matchbox. But partners Med Lahlou and Antonio Matarazzo and chef Domenico Apollaro are hoping that their approach to the food at Lupo Verde - and the mini charcuterie and cheese market within the restaurant - will help set it apart when it opens Feb. 20. Click through the gallery at right for a look at the space.

For Lupo Verde's menu, Apollaro is putting his own twist on what he said are, in some cases, centuries-old recipes from his native Calabria region of Italy, including handmade pastas. He hopes to change up the menu every few months to use the same ingredients in different styles according to region.

"So for the baked branzino [fish], in the south they do it with raisins and in the north they do it differently," he said. "So we'll change it so you have to come back every month."

He's also hoping to offer a different breed of pizza than what's already available at his restaurant neighbors. They'll be "gourmet pizzas," with toppings like chicken livers and lamb. They'll be individually sized, "more of an entree," Apollaro added.

The 3,000-square-foot restaurant seats 100, with another 30 on the patio facing T Street. In the back, there is a glass-enclosed cheese and charcuterie room that will be manned by a "cheese sommelier." Customers can come in for cheese and charcuterie to go, some of which will be made in-house.

Lupo Verde is also hoping to cater to neighborhood denizens when they want to eat in: the daily "lazy box" will be available for purchase with a special of the day - a portion suited for one to heat it up at home. Rebecca Cooper covers retail, restaurants, tourism and the arts.

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