Lunch at Grazie Grazie – Wharf DC
The DC Wharf has a hoagie shop and it’s called Grazie Grazie. The restaurant bills itself as, “Your friendly neighborhood Italian deli” and while there are no hanging meats, the menu lives up to the spirit and expectations of what you would want if you were on Philly’s South Street.
Grazie Grazie is located at District Square and is perhaps the most versatile eatery at The Wharf. It is a very popular lunch location for the office dwellers at The Wharf and surrounding area but is also an excellent dinner or pre-show option in the evening.
From the moment you walk in, Grazie is inviting and pleasant. The green and white colors, the hanging plants (in place of meats?) and the oil barrel lights make for a great setting. Owner, Casey Patten, is a constant presence and literally keeps the line moving as he personally inspects each order, calls out your name, and delivers it to you.
Ordering is done at a counter, so there is some pressure to figure out what to get as you approach the cashier and not hold up the line of people behind you. There is a menu wall, where the menu is presented in easy to read boards (there are also tear away paper flyers for you to use) but a decision isn’t easy. The challenge is often whether I’m going all in with the cheesesteak and fries, or an Italian with a side of fried risotto balls. And sometimes, it’s one of the big salads that are equally enjoyable and fulfilling. See what I mean?!
Let’s breakdown the menu. The main entrees are substantial and filling, but if you’ve ever tried any of the starters, you know they can’t be ignored. They are there – calling you – and resistance is futile. I’m talking about the risotto balls, the mozzarella cubes, both to be dipped in a zesty marinara sauce. But there’s more. The allure of the Philly Fry with shaved rib eye, sauteed onions, cherry peppers and cheese whiz is always tempting. Already the choices are overwhelming but it’s got to be done…because FOMO is real.
The cheesesteak is the real thing. Made with grass-fed shaved ribeye, cherry pepper aioli, bacon, cooper sharp cheese, and lettuce, tomato, and onion. Ok, ok, this isn’t the place to debate whether whiz should be on your cheesesteak, but if you want it, just ask and they will hook you up. Along with the ribeye, there is also a chicken option and a vegetarian option made with local mushrooms.
We all know how important bread is to a perfect hoagie – it can make or break the meal – and Grazie’s bread game is on point. You can select from original sesame seed, wheat, or gluten free wrap.
By the way, the Grazie menu lists them as “sandwiches”, but I know a hoagie when I see it, so I’m going with calling them hoagies. Let’s start with the pork. Say hello to my little friend, Pancho. The Pancho is made with shaved pork, Abbruzze cheese spread, roasted red peppers, pickled onions, and arugula. The pork is so tasty, I imagine it had been soaking in its own juices since coming out of the oven. The Panchco hoagie is in perfect harmony.
For turkey lovers, the Stefani is satisfying and includes a perfect combination of flavors. Lemon ricotta spread, avocado, applewood smoked bacon, cashew romesco, pecorino romano, red onion, and shredded kale. Dressed with EVOO and house seasoning. Need I say more?
The vegan options are excellent and even temping for omnivores. Take for instance the Cha Cha. It includes chickpea fritters, pepperoncini, cucumber, pickled onions, fresh mint, tomato, and lettuce and dressed with roasted garlic tahini and EVOO. Not exactly rabbit food, is it?
The salads too are remarkably fresh and there are lots of options. The Loria has shredded kale, avocado, roasted tomato hummus, cucumber, grape tomato, red onions, pepperoncini, toasted cashews, and fresh oregano. Dressed with roasted garlic tahini dressing.
There are so many good options here for hoagies or salads. You can always build you own too. But, here’s the best pro-tip, order on-line! This option allows you to bypass the pressure of standing in front of the menu wall feverishly trying to come up with the perfect order before you get to the cashier. Once the order is placed, it will be waiting for your pick up (or delivery via Caviar) at the time of your choice.
Grazie Grazie is open daily from 11 am to 9 pm and located at 85 District Square SW, Washington, DC 20024.