GRAPE EXPECTATIONS: Fast approaching its 10th year in business, the spirited Italian restaurant Al Tiramisu (2014 P St. NW; 202-467-4466) is also poised to become a parent, according to its owner, Luigi Diotaiuti. The restaurateur recently revealed that he's opening a second place to eat in Washington, in the space recently claimed by Opera at 1324 U St. NW. "Al Tiramisu wanted to have a son," jokes Diotaiuti, who has christened the offspring, a wine bar, Al Crostino. As the name suggests, the script will feature a variety of crostini -- slivers of toasted bread with savory toppings -- as well as cheese and sausage platters and 30-plus Italian wines by the glass. A handful of entrees (zucchini-crusted fish, a veal chop sauced with balsamic vinegar and honey) will round out the small menu, which will be executed by Diotaiuti's brother, Giovanni, who cooked at Al Tiramisu in its early years. Soft yellow paint and white trim will replace Opera's green palette, says the owner, but otherwise, the two-level interior will not change much. Diotaiuti hopes to offer wine classes in the small loft and plans to serve dinner daily any day now, if everything goes according to plan.
IT'S ALL KOSHER: When it came time to name his new kosher restaurant in Washington, Sina Soumekhian suggested his entire family -- wife Ellen and children Ilana, Noah and Eli -- vote on the matter. The majority ruled it should be named for the youngest member of the family, so Eli's (1253 20th St. NW; 202-785-4314) it is. "A good deli name," says the proud patriarch, who also owns Siena's pizzeria in Rockville. Painted in a shade between pink and purple, the 65-seat restaurant sports wood floors, glass-topped tables, old-fashioned light fixtures and a basin in the rear, at which some patrons wash their hands and say a blessing before they eat. The lunch menu of salads and sandwiches is intentionally simple: "People have an hour for lunch," explains Soumekhian. Dinner finds more options, including roast chicken, meatloaf, and fish and chips. What to eat? Chicken soup is thick with noodles, celery, carrots and slivers of the featured ingredient; one of the best sandwiches partners chopped liver and pastrami between thick slices of delicious rye bread. Eli's, which takes the place of Kozy Korner in the city's West End and closes on Saturdays, sits on a corner surrounded by office workers, hotel guests and more than a few students from nearby George Washington University. "I hit the jackpot," concedes the man who now feeds many of them.
Sandwiches $5.99-$12.99, entrees $12.99-$25.99.