First Bite: Etto in Logan Circle


Chef Cagla Onal-Urel heads the kitchen at Etto in Logan Circle. (Katherine Frey/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Much like the mash of chocolate and peanut butter celebrated in those vintage ads for Reese’s cups, the recent merger of talents from 2 Amys, one of the city’s premier pizzerias, and Standard, the beloved beer garden known for its barbecue, sounds like a union poised to become a classic.

Please welcome Etto to the ever-expanding food scene in Logan Circle. The newcomer’s players include Peter Pastan and Amy Morgan from the popular pie joint in Cleveland Park and Tad Curtz and David Rosner from the brew and ’cue retreat on 14th Street NW. Their joint venture features small plates of Italian flavors, including salumi, as well as pizzas. Its name is a measure of weight in Italy: An etto is 100 grams.

Show up early to catch one of the trim restaurant’s 42 seats. Word about Etto is out, and the word is mostly good. Try to start with some of what the menu calls Fishies — maybe meaty Spanish anchovies on a sauce made green with parsley and mint and vibrant with garlic and lemon zest — before moving on to one of more than a dozen pizzas. The seasonal numbers include morels with ramps and asparagus with mint, toppings scattered on chewy crusts with billowing lips and pleasant amounts of char.

Cagla Onal-Urel, a onetime cook at Obelisk in Dupont Circle, is in charge of the kitchen, which also sends out lovely salads (try celery and walnut) and nightly specials. Cocktails are few but high-quality. Etto’s Negroni, for instance, stirs in house-made red vermouth.

The pizza, by the way, is not a ringer for 2 Amys’. Pastan says he uses a different method of making and baking Etto’s dough, which incorporates spelt and fresh-milled wheat and cooks at a slightly hotter temperature. The spelt gives the dough elasticity; the wheat, milled on-site, lends the base sweetness.

You might spot Curtz tending Etto’s red-oak-fired oven. Before he rolled out Standard, he worked for Pastan at 2 Amys, both as a cook and behind the wine bar. Curtz appears to be excellent with his hands: The fir chairs and bar at Etto are all his work, says his boss-turned-business-partner. “He’s good at fixing things, too!” adds the impressed Pastan.

tom.sietsema@washpost.com

1541 14th St. NW. 202-232-0920. www.ettodc.com. Pizzas, $13 to $17.

Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.
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