One of my favorite restaurants in DC is El Chucho in Columbia Heights, so when I heard the owner was opening a new Italian restaurant in the Petworth area, I headed there fast than you can say “bonjourno!”
I may have mentioned before I’m a little bit of an Italian food snob. Being Italian, I can whip you up a Sunday sauce or eggplant parm, no prob. If I’m going out for Italian though, I want food from Italy. Or, as is the case at Little Coco’s, a new, interesting take.
We headed to Little Coco’s on a Friday, and pleasant surprise! Jackie Greenbaum, the owner, was actually hostessing. We were seated at one of the high tops by the bar. Considering the wait, there a bunch of empty tables. There were also stairs, but I don’t know if there is in fact a roof or upstairs area.
After some wine (lovely prices!) and a PBR for him ($11 for a pitcher!) We started off with a little app of chicken liver bruschetta with ramp pesto. It was delicious, with perfectly toasted bread. Sometimes you only get one piece of bruschetta at other restaurants, and we were glad this order came with two since we both devoured them.
I had one thing on the brain as we perused the menu—the fried pizza. I had heard about this creation but did not know what it looked like—I guess it must be fried dough with cheese, sauce, and everything else on top. But the pizza frito classico was actually a large, doughnut-looking fried dough ball stuffed with cheese and some sauce and topped with an arugula salad.
I will say, I’m glad I ordered it this time but I don’t think I’d get it again (there’s too many other good-looking things on the menu!) The dough had the tiny bit of sweetness that fried dough has which I liked. On the inside, some areas were chock full of delicious, gooey cheese, but others were just dough. My main qualm was the sauce—there was some sauce inside, but that plus the little side of sauce was not enough sauce! More sauce needed. All the sauce.
For our third course, we went a little seasonal and got the butternut squash campanelle with duck confit, jalapenos, and maitake. We loved this dish—because despite being a pasta dish, eaten altogether in one big bite it almost tasted Mexican. With the jalapenos and the cheese, and little bit of sweet from the squash, and then the shredded duck…oh em gee.
But I couldn’t leave without dessert. All that salty, cheesey, gooey deliciousness required a scoop of manjari dark chocolate gelato to finish it all off. And how sweet it was.
I will definitely be back to Little Coco’s. The food was just as great as my face El Chucho, and the atmosphere just as convivial. The service was great as well—our waitress asked how we would like our meal served and I was able to specify one course after the other and avoid one of my pet peeves (except at tapas) of having too many dishes on the table at one time and feeling rushed.
They don’t take reservations so you will likely wait; but luckily the staff is very attentive with the drink menu whether you’re sitting outside or inside at the bar!
Little Coco’s is located at 3907 14th St NW in Petworth.