We are sad to report the unfortunate news that there was a fire early this morning at the John T. Rhines Funeral Home, located at 3005 12th St NE. Five fires trucks, multiple ambulances and police cars were on the scene. It didn’t appear that anyone was hurt, but we arrived after the fire had been put out.12th Street NE was blocked off between Hamlin and Irving and smoke could be seen billowing around the roof about a block away. Firefighters were on the roof and seemed to have everything under control at around 5:30 am. Hopefully the damage wasn’t too severe. Our hearts go out to all who are affected. The funeral home has been in business for over 110 years. (Sorry that the photos below are not great quality, I was trying to keep a safe distance away and out of the first responders’ way. You need Flash to see the pictures, if you cannot see them, you can open the slideshow here.)
There’s pizza. Then there’s Neapolitan pizza: an almost religious style of pizza making that involves special ingredients (such as Fior di latte mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes) and specific techniques. Distinct for its crispy outer ring of crust, it’s a delicious fork-and-knife pizza experience that’s rare in the D.C. Metro area. But Brookland has Menomale: a Neapolitan pizzeria to call its own.
While it seems like only yesterday Menomale first opened its doors, the restaurant now celebrates five years of business. On a recent afternoon, while the restaurant was still closed and the first wood logs were being lit in the restaurant’s beautiful new tiled oven, we sat down with co-owner Maria Rusciano as she reflected on Menomale’s anniversary – and its future.
How do you feel now that Menomale’s hit its five-year anniversary?
They say time flies when you’re having fun, and it’s been a great five years. We’ve had a very good time just running the business and being a part of the neighborhood. We’re also very proud that we’ve managed to make Menomale not just a neighborhood restaurant but a destination for the entire D.C. Metro area. Some people drive 45 minutes to get here to taste our pizza! We’re very thankful for the success we’ve had.
Why go into the Neapolitan pizza business in the first place?
My husband, Ettore, is from Naples, and I’m originally from Bulgaria. Every time we’d go to Naples, we’d eat this kind of pizza. This is the first business we started, though we both have backgrounds working in the restaurant industry. We love the simplicity of Neapolitan pizza, but also the intricacies involved in making it. You really have to stay true to the few ingredients you need to use. You have to respect the process. It’s not like in baking, where you can substitute applesauce for oil; if you make any changes, it’s not going to be true Neapolitan pizza. There’s an association [Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana] we belong to that protects this style of pizza.
Was Salumeria 2703 always part of your business plan?
We always had the idea of taking over the block because there were so many empty commercial spaces. We thought: Why not do an Italian deli? Brookland didn’t have one, and there are also not that many Italian delis in the D.C. Metro area. The ones that do exist don’t necessarily provide the same experience you’d get in a deli in Italy, so that’s where we thought we could make a difference. We’ve owned the space for more than two years, and Salumeria 2703 is already more than a year old.
What’s the story behind the new oven you just installed over Thanksgiving?
The old oven was not insulated at all and was releasing too much heat. It became too hot for the pizza makers to work there – especially in the summer. Our new oven, like the old one, was brought over from Naples. It’s covered in tile from a little town on the Amalfi Coast, Vietri sul Mare, that specializes in hand-painted ceramic tile. Not only does the new oven have improved insulation, it also looks more beautiful.
What can we expect from Menomale in the coming years?
We’re working on additions to the menu. We make fresh pasta at Salumeria 2703, so we’ll be adding lasagna to the menu, as well as eggplant parmasean. Another dish we’re adding is a specialty from Sorrento: gnocchi alla sorrentina, which is gnocchi baked with fresh mozzarella and tomato sauce. We’re also planning a new Mediterranean look to Menomale, centered around our new oven. We have nine more cases of Amalfi tile, so we’ll use some of that throughout the restaurant.
As a Brooklander, what do you enjoy about the neighborhood?
I really like the sense of community here. Through the business, we’ve gotten to know pretty much everybody in the neighborhood. I love that it’s very walkable; I have a small child, so we go for walks a lot. There have been a lot of positive changes in Brookland as well. When we first moved in, Noyes Playground was just an empty field. Now, it’s a beautiful park. The fact that Brookland just keeps getting better is something I really appreciate. It’s great for the community – and it’s great for business.
Back in July 2015, Brookland lost an institution when the True Value Hardware store at the corner of 12th and Monroe closed after 40 years. Since then there have been rumors about what would take its place, but nothing definite looking till now. We recently noticed a sign for Nido Nursing Center on the still papered-over store windows. The website address listed didn’t yield any information, so we did some digging around on Facebook and found a page for Nido Nursing Center, which lists 3501 12th Street (12th & Monroe) as its location and announces in the post below that they are coming to Brookland.
The post says that they “…are aiming to open mid fall, early winter… if not sooner.” We were able to peek in and it didn’t look like they will meet that target. The space still looked pretty rough and gutted out, but had some wall framing up. We are curious about how pickup/drop off will work at such a busy intersection, but time will tell. We will keep an eye on things and let you know when we learn anything new.
This is good news for neighbors with sore muscles. From an email:
JUNE 19 – JULY 3
This summer, indulge in self-care with a 30-, 60-, or 90-minute massage at the studio. Select from the following options:
Deep Tissue Massage
Neck, Back, and Shoulders
Après Yoga Sports Massage
Schedule your massage and get more info here. Bluebird Sky yoga studio is located at 3101 12th St NE.
We thought readers might want to consider supporting Brookland area businesses by voting for them in the latest DC City Paper “Best Of” competition. The poll closes March 5th. If you fill out the ballot, you may want to consider the following Brookland and nearby businesses. Let us know if we left anything out. You can fill out your ballot here.
- Best Dance Company: Dance Place
- Best Jazz/Blues Venue: Jazz & Cultural Society (JACS)
- Best Bike Shop: The Bike Rack
- Best Hardware Store: Annie’s Ace Hardware – Brookland
- Best Pilates Studio: Excel Pilates Brookland
- Best Place to Buy Wine: Wardman Wines
- Best Vet: District Vet
- Best Yoga Studio: Bluebird Sky Yoga
- Best Neighborhood To Live In: Brookland (of course!)
- Best Bakery: The Bakers’ Lounge
- Best Bar: Brookland’s Finest/Steel Plate/Smith Public Trust/Dew Drop Inn/Brookland PInt
- Best Brew Pub: Public Option
- Best Coffee Shop: Zeke’s Coffee of DC
- Best Craft Beer Selection: Brookland Pint
- Best Dive Bar: The Dew Drop Inn DC
- Best Ethiopian Restaurant: Askale Cafe
- Best Local Brewery: Right Proper
- Best Neighborhood Bar: Brookland’s Finest/Steel Plate/Smith Public Trust/Dew Drop Inn/Brookland PInt
- Best Pho: Pho 12
- Best Pizza: Menomalé Pizza Napoletana
- Best Sandwich: MGM Roast Beef
Best of luck to Brookland area businesses!
This coming Saturday, Stitch and Rivet, a local crafter of handmade gifts and accessories is celebrating their three year anniversary. From the event page:
The holidays are over, winter is here, and the skies have been gray for many days in a row. LET’S HAVE A PARTY!
2017 is here and many new things are coming to Stitch & Rivet- a freshly updated line, our new monthly Featured Maker and a new look to the workshop. Come celebrate our third year in business, check out the new work, and meet Jennifer Wilfong of Yummy & Co. our first Featured Maker. This event is family friendly, and there will be cake!
— Stitch & Rivet (@Stitchandrivet) February 5, 2017
Stitch and Rivet is located at 716 Monroe Street NE, Arts Walk Studio #3
When we moved here seven years ago, there really wasn’t anything in the way of New Year’s Eve celebration offerings. Now every year seems to bring more and fun events and a wider array of choices. Here is a rundown of NYE events for those who want to stay local. Cheers!
- Brookland’s Finest will offer a fixed price, 3 course dinner that includes shrimp cocktail, Surf and Turf, and dessert. The dinner costs $35 per person and there will be a champagne toast for guests in the restaurant when midnight rolls around. Brookland’s Finest is located at 3126 12th St NE.
- Brookland Pint will have a special menu that will be served Saturday evening. For $50 guests will get a special paired tasting menu. Make reservations by calling 202.758. 2757 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Brookland Pint is located at 716 Monroe Street, NE.
- Dew Drop Inn is offering up a New Years Eve dance party with a DJ from 7:00 pm – 2:00 am. From their Facebook page: “Come ring in 2017 with The Dew Drop Inn. Will be having an all night dance party with tunes by Ameer Dyson and No Cover & Midnight Toast.” The Dew Drop Inn is located at 2801 8th Street NE.
- Nido is having a special four-course Spanish-inspired dinner for $85 per person, which includes tax and gratuity. There will be three seatings, 5:30pm, 7:30pm and 10:00pm. There will also be an optional $45 wine pairing. Check out more details on their Facebook event page and purchase tickets here. Nido is located at 2214 Rhode Island Avenue NE.
- Smith Public Trust‘s NYE Space Camp dance party returns this year. The event starts at 7:00 pm with a handful of DJ’s through the night. The event is free but you have to RSVP here to get in. Smith Public Trust is located at 3514 12TH Street NE.
- Steel Plate is hosting a New Years Eve party, starting at 9:00 pm. Purchase tickets at their event page for $15. Because they are looking to have a pleasant, non-crowded environment, tickets sales will be limited to a reasonable number. There will be two DJs, champagne toast at midnight and snacks like sliders and grilled cheese after midnight. Steel Plate is located at 3523 12th Street NE.
We hope everyone has a fantastic New Years no matter what your plans!
We thought Menomale regulars would like the heads up that they will be closing up shop – just for a few days – to spruce up the place. We spoke with Ettore Rusciano, Menomale’s owner and he said that the reno will mostly be cosmetic things like fresh paint, new lighting, and some minor repairs to the pizza oven. We look forward to checking out the updates and enjoying the best pizza in DC when they reopen. The post below is from Menomale’s Facebook page.
Back in April we learned Brookand would be getting a full time permanent yoga studio called Bluebird Sky Yoga at 3101 12th Street NE (12th and Irving). We are happy to report that they will be opening this weekend. From an email:
BLUEBIRD SKY YOGA OPENS MONDAY!
Brookland’s newest yoga studio is celebrating opening tonight, with the full class schedule starting MONDAY. Sign up for classes early to reserve your space.
If you’re looking to get back into yoga, try our Yoga Fundamentals or Alignment-based Flow classes.
Searching for a faster-paced class? Check out Rocket or Vinyasa.
Wanting to quiet the mind? Try our Restorative class.
Interested in working more directly with a teacher? Test out our Mysore Ashtanga program.
If you’re up for an adventure, try our Primal Yoga class, only offered in DC at Bluebird Sky Yoga, and taught by less than 20 certified teachers around the world.
With over 30 classes on the calendar at opening, we hope you will find classes and teachers you love.
Classes start Monday November 7th and you can sign up for classes now here. Welcome to the neighborhood, Bluebird Sky!
Ever since the news broke that a new Vietnamese restaurant, Pho 12, was coming to Brookland a lot of neighbors have been eagerly awaiting their first taste. The restaurant opened on October 20th and is located at 3740 12th Street NE (where B’Cafe used to be). We decided to check it out and took the photos below.
The restaurant is small but cute with 7 tables. Besides (obviously) Pho, the restaurant also serves appetizers, rice and noodle dishes and desserts, including beignets. We tried the spring rolls, chicken skewers (so so so good), a Pho bowl, and pork with vermicelli noodles. I don’t know much about Vietnamese food but we found everything to be very tasty, flavorful and fresh. The service was also very nice and helpful. I tried my first Vietnamese iced coffee and loved it, good and strong. Over all we are super-delighted to have this new addition to the neighborhood and will definitely be back soon.