Head to the back of chef Michael Schlow's new Italian spot Alta Strada, past the blue velvet curtains, and you'll find the gilded, candle-filled dining room of Conosci. The swanky restaurant within a restaurant (pronounced ko-no-shee) opens tonight with lots of crudo, a tasting menu, and a cocktail cart.
Although the name is Italian—meaning "do you know"—the food is not. Rather, Schlow calls it "international" and "personal."
The nine crudo dishes include Kusshi oysters with fennel and black tapioca as well as giant sweet shrimp carpaccio with sea salt, basil, and lardo toast. There's even tuna poke.
The daily changing menu kicks off with one soup (lobster, uni, and apple), a few "very composed" seasonal vegetable dishes, and slightly larger plates like risotto with crab and uni. (Uni currently appears three times on the menu.)
Tasting menus seem to be all the rage these days with the recent debut of Pineapple and Pearls and the forthcoming openings of Metier and The Shaw Bijou. Conosci is no exception. In addition to its a la carte offerings, there are two tasting menu options: one for $45 and another for $135.
"I figure, if you go in the middle, everybody goes in the middle," Schlow says.
Conosci has a bar cart rather than a bar, meaning cocktails will be prepared tableside. One current concoction dubbed "You, Me, & Boshi" includes sake, lemon, umeboshi plum, and plum bitters.
Edit Lab at Streetsense, the designers behind Columbia Room and Daikaya, are responsible for the look, which includes ornate chandeliers, a marble crudo bar where guests can watch the seafood prepared, and hundreds of candles behind that. Schlow's wife Adrienne Schlow, a mixed-media artist, is responsible for the paintings on the walls. She also supplied art for sister restaurants Tico, The Riggsby, and Alta Strada.
Conosci, 465 K St. NW, (202) 629-4662, conoscidc.com
Photo via Conosci