Opening Dispatch

Carrello Opens Today and Its Carts Will Wheel Food Directly to Your Table

The team behind Altura has set up its new Italian restaurant on Capitol Hill in the former Poppy space.

By Rosin Saez October 3, 2019

Just one of chef Nathan Lockwood's hand-fashioned bowls of pasta at Carrello.

Image: Jeremy Paige

As they say, when one door closes—namely, the one for Jerry Traunfeld's Poppy, which shuttered this summer after more than a decade of service—that same door may just open right back up. To that end, Carrello debuts today on Capitol Hill. The space formerly occupied by Poppy has transformed into Nathan and Rebecca Lockwood's newest Italian restaurant at 622 Broadway East. 

Altura, Nathan Lockwood's 18-course interpretation of a fine Italian meal, is right across the street from Carrello, and Lockwood reports that he's "been utilizing the crosswalks pretty aggressively." He says proximity was crucial in the decision to open a second restaurant since he plans on tending to the needs of both rather closely, as any chef would. While geographically adjacent, the two Italian restaurants differ broadly in dining style. In lieu of the sort of coursed meals you'd see at Altura, Lockwood wanted to return to "a lot of the old things that we used to enjoy doing," like serving up a beautiful bowl of pasta—perhaps a tripe and oxtail pappardelle or gnocchi with lamb and beef ragu—alongside a glass of wine, or sharing a few small plates and maybe one big, massive entree.

Essentially, says Lockwood, "We just want to have that fun, energetic, fast-paced, immediate gratification of whatever you're looking for." Good thing one section of Carrello's three-part menu is dedicated to small plates delivered via cart. After getting settled in at a table, an indicator signals when carts bearing the likes of salumi, rabbit meatballs, duck liver, beef crudo, and chilled clams will start to arrive. And the earlier you dine, the better chance of getting in on the action as cart items are limited.

Sharable platter of meat, anyone?

Image: Jeremy Paige

"People say flavor is close to the bone and, ultimately, I think that's true." That's where Lockwood's larger format dishes, those to be shared between two or up to six people, come into play on the menu: slow-roasted lamb neck, dry-aged, bone-in ribeye steak. Then, of course, satisfying pastas and salads that transport you to Rome and back again.

The wine list won't be as fathoms deep as Altura's, but it won't slack on its globe-trotting selections either, says Lockwood, especially on the biodynamic and natural wine front, such as those coming out of Oregon, Italy, and France. Yes, a couple of beers on tap and cold brew coffee, too.

Reservations for Carrello's initial weeks are pretty booked up, per the restaurant, but in the future, it will always reserve a portion of the dining room walk-ins. For now, reservations are helping staff get their bearings and a sense of flow. The bar will always be walk-in only, no reservations. Carrello is open Tuesday through Saturday at 5.

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