Nicholas Stefanelli’s new wine bar brings a booming piece of Greece to downtown

Michelin-starred chef Nicholas Stefanelli is doubling down on Midtown Center this week with the addition of a stylish Greek wine bar called Kaimaki.

The laid-back, neighborly counterpart to its fixed-price centerpiece Philotimo opens Thursday, June 2 (1100 15th Street NW) with a menu devoted to Greek wines, street food and experimental cocktails. While his acclaimed restaurants Officina and Masseria showcase his Italian roots, Stefanelli taps into the Greek side of his ancestry at the chic new center of Midtown.

Named after the top layer of Greek micro-bubble coffee, the walk-in Kaimaki seats 12 at the bar and another 25 at high tables facing floor-to-ceiling windows. The hours are Tuesday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight.

Stefanelli’s beverage director, Joseph Kocjan, spearheads a cocktail list that includes an alternating selection of classics and originals like the Red Dragon (gin, habanero cucumber shrub, pomegranate juice); Quintessence (tequila, vermouth sake, strawberry lacto phosphate); and Medicane (Kleos Mastiha Greek alcohol, Jamaican rum, homemade fassionola, lime, bubbles).

An extensive list of Greek wines highlights lesser-known regions and labels that Stefanelli has selected from trips throughout the Mediterranean country and its idyllic islands.

The Red Dragon cocktail (gin, habanero cucumber shrub, pomegranate juice).
Vina Sananikone/Kaimaki

Kaimaki can accommodate 12 people at the bar.
Vina Sananikone/Kaimaki

On the snack side, a section of some meze served at Philotimo includes dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), bean fritters, loukoumades (bite-sized fritters), Greek cheeses and charcuterie. There are also big portions of fries, a Greek staple served with gyros and souvlaki.

In the coming months, Stefanelli also plans to roll out Greek coffee, lunch service and take-out offers. Kaimaki is available for private events and can accommodate up to 75 people for stand-up receptions. The Midtown Center complex continues to fill up, between the recent arrival of the Little Chicken basted fried poultry pad and the upcoming opening of the all-day Ākēdo of the modern Japanese izakaya Shōtō.

Meanwhile, Stefanelli’s busy 2022 also includes three quirky ventures in The Morrow Washington DC, Curio Collection by Hilton, a new 203-room hotel coming to NoMa this fall (222 M Street NE). This includes Le Clou, a modern take on the traditional French brasserie; Vesper, an intimate cocktail bar with caviar service and live music; and Upstairs at The Morrow, a rooftop lounge with panoramic city views.

A rendering of The Morrow Washington DC, Curio Collection by Hilton.
Courtesy of The Morrow Washington DC

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