“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” - Mark Twain
by Nicole Lisson
- The Capitol Hill Times -
Ethan Stowell is at it again with his newest venture, Bar Cotto, an intimate bar just next door to his other restaurant, Anchovies & Olives. The other day, when I walked in, I noticed people lingering over their drinks, reluctant to leave. By the end of my meal, I understood why.
The décor in Bar Cotto is pure Ethan Stowell: sleek industrial, with touches of warmth from natural elements of dark wood and exposed brick. It feels as if you’re in a trattoria in Southern Italy. Light bounces off the whitewashed walls and ceiling, adding a feel of summer amidst the cloudy skies. An open kitchen gives you a peek at the wood burning pizza oven that promises a chewy crust.
Bar Cotto is marketed as a salumeria and cocktail bar. A huge chalkboard on the far wall lists the daily selection of cured meats that are sliced to order. On the menu, you will notice that there are three different selections of salumi to choose from; one for $7, three for $18 or five for $25. Although, I cannot personally attest to how they taste, the person at the next table seemed to be blissfully taking bite after bite after bite of the cured meats. No salumi on my end meant a cocktail. The Negroni Vecchio ($11) is gin, Cocchi di Torino and Campari. The Campari gave the drink its bright red color and sweet, but bitter aftertaste. Another cocktail that I wanted to try was the “I Blame My Mother,” which is reposado tequila, lemon, honey, Amro Nonino and Peychaud’s. My stomach, however, was grumbling for food.
Bar Cotto’s dinner menu is spilt into four sections: Salumi, Verdura, Bruschetta and Pizza. After staring at the wood fire oven for 20 minutes, I knew exactly what I wanted. At the suggestion of the waiter, I got The N’duja ($16). N’duja salami, buffalo mozzarella and parsley topped the generous-sized pizza. The chunky tomato sauce was a nice contrast to the creamy cheese, while the salami gave a hint of orange flavor with a kick from the spices, and paired well with the other ingredients. But what really stole the show was the crust. Made with a sourdough starter, it had a pleasant sourness. Also, it was chewy with a spongy interior, exactly how a crust should be.
I ended my meal with Orange Crème Gelato ($7), which tasted exactly like a less sweet version of a creamsicle. Zested orange made it pop with citrus flavor.
Overall, Bar Cotto is nothing less then I expected. Good food, a laid back atmosphere and tasty drinks. Ethan Stowell has another hit on his hands, and I can’t wait to see what restaurant he opens next.