The Red Hen owners Michael Friedman, Michael O’Malley, and Sebastian Zutant are teaming up with Boundary Stone owners Gareth Croke and Colin McDonough to open an Italian-American restaurant focused around pizza. The place will be called All Purpose and open at 1250 9th St. NW late this year.
As Bloomingdale neighbors, the two groups of restaurateurs have become good friends. "It's kind of like two heads are better than one, four is better than two, and six is better than four," says chef Friedman. "We want to be careful about expanding. And we want to do it correctly. So to do it correctly, you need smart, great people around you, and Gareth and Colin are some of the smartest that we know."
Friedman says All Purpose will be "as much about pizza as the Red Hen is about pasta." The chef is channeling memories of growing up in New Jersey to create a New York-style pie. Friedman will work with pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac of Buttercream Bakeshop to create a "breadier" dough. (MacIsaac announced this afternoon that she will open her much-anticipated bakeshop in the same building as All Purpose. She will also consult on the restaurant's Italian-inspired pastry and dessert menu.) Rather than the popular wood-fired ovens used for Neapolitan pies, All Purpose will use deck ovens. "I want to cook these pizzas slower," Friedman explains. "That helps to develop flavor and develop the yeast in the dough." The result will be a deeper flavor and a crunchier crust with no big bubbles.
"I love pizza," says Friedman, who calls the food an integral part of his upbringing. Growing up, his family ate pizza at least once a week from one of three pizzerias. But beyond that, he says making pizzas "satisfies my love and interest and constant yearning for knowledge about bread... I love bread." He points out that pasta is a type of dough. "I just want to learn about a new dough."
Aside from pizza, the menu will include a selection of bruschetta, Roman and Italian-American antipasti, and charcuterie. Entrees or "secondi" like a panzanella-stuffed quail or suckling pig porchetta with Meyer lemon aioli will also be available.
Zutant, who's the beverage director at the Red Hen, will work with Croke and McDonough on the drink menu, which will include American and Italian natural wines (meaning those made with minimal chemical and technological intervention). There will also be regional beers and classic cocktails.
Located on the street level of a luxury apartment building called The Colonel, All Purpose will be about the same size as the Red Hen with roughly 80 seats. The owners are working with Edit Lab at Streetsense, which also designed the Red Hen, to create a "pizzeria vibe." "It will have grit to it," Friedman says. "It's not going to be a shiny white tablecloth joint... I want it to have a great, airy, warm feeling to it."
Photo via The Colonel