Tony Chittum, of the three-star Vermilion in Alexandria, plans to leave the contemporary American restaurant and reopen the romantic Iron Gate Inn in Dupont Circle, he announced today. The chef, 35, says he is keeping the restaurant’s name and much of what made that space, which closed after 87 years in 2010, so enchanting.
“It’s got great character,” he says of his decision to retain the archways and vine-shaded courtyard of the one-time Mediterranean restaurant at 1734 N St. NW. The menu of the new Iron Gate Inn will highlight Italian and Greek flavors, styles of cooking Chittum knows well: he previously helmed Notti Bianchi and last September, he married a woman raised in Greece, the former Dominique Arvanitis.
The project — with Chittum’s employer, the Neighborhood Restaurant Group — makes the chef a co-owner for the first time. “It’s nice to be back in the city,” he says. A search is on for his replacement at Vermilion, where he spent the past five years.
“In a perfect world,” Chittum says, his next restaurant will open in six months. But first, he has scheduled a research trip to Sardinia and the Greek island of Syros, where he’ll practice some Greek (cooking) with his wife’s grandmother.