Café Pettirosso Steps Up Its Beverage Game With New Wine Program

By Dylan Joffe

February 28, 2018

Stop by the neighborhood darling for approachable, affordable wine—from Washington reds to sparkling Franciacorta.


Reasonable prices and a clear vision for high quality food and drink has kept the restaurant relevant for decades in the ever-evolving food scene of Capitol Hill. The new wine program, spearheaded by general manager Jamey Lionhart, takes influence from the restaurant’s style, offering approachable, affordable bottles fit for brunching or dining any night of the week.

Started by Robin Wright as a coffee cart in the mid-90s, the all-day café is now owned by sister duo, Yuki and Miki Sodos. A sense of flexibility and willingness to change has kept the restaurant well-loved and relevant in a neighborhood that’s seen drastic change in recent years. The Sodos sisters feel that adding a distinct, interesting wine list is a natural next step in Pettirosso’s progression, and that Lionhart is the right person to bring it all together.

From the beginning, Lionhart has said a major component in building this wine program is to remain appealing to a wide mix of patrons. Twenty years is a long life for a restaurant, and Pettirosso’s clientele ranges from old-school Capitol Hill natives to newer residents lured to the hill by promising restaurants, hip bars, and 200-square-foot micro-studios. Lionhart plans to feature wines that range from affordable everyday options to unique high-end finds.

“The wines I selected are un-fussy, some local, some imported, and some eclectic, but most of all approachable and delicious!” Lionhart said. “I never want to have anything outrageously expensive, but I also don’t mind splurging on a nice bottle from time to time. That’s the atmosphere I am going for and what I hope for in Pettirosso’s wine program. We already hit it out of the park with our cocktails and food—I hope to mirror that.”

This new initiative kicked off in early February with a tasting event with local favorites Forgeron Cellars, Mark Ryan, Syncline, and Buty. The team says this event is just the beginning for events at Pettirosso, which they hope to host regularly as the wine program evolves. What’s on the menu now will be sure to change, revolving through different varietals to provide clients with a broad spectrum.

What should you try right now? Owner Yuki Sodos says the Franciacorta by Ca del Bosco. “It’s a beautiful elegant wine—essentially an Italian champagne.” This wine, made in the traditional method outside Brescia, Italy, is fragrant, fresh, bubbly, and creamy—and perfect pairing for anything from Pettirosso’s many menus.

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