Written by Anita
June 28, 2015
Photo 1 courtesy of Noelia.
Noelia owner Kaiser Gill is not afraid of change. In his career to date, he has been an Army officer, an FBI agent, a Defense contractor, a chief operating officer, and a restaurateur. So it’s perhaps not surprising that, after a year of operating Noelia Italian Kitchen, he decided to change things up. This spring, Gill reinvented Noelia Italian Kitchen as Noelia, serving contemporary American fare. Gill, who grew up working in his family’s Pakistani restaurants in Northern Virginia (Shiney’s Sweets & Restaurant and Aabshaar Kabobs & Sweets), says that the change will give him the flexibility to explore a range of cuisines (America is a melting pot, after all) and will help him and his wife Faisel, who is Bolivian, to better tell their story. (Gill says kabobs will likely appear on a future menu.)
We recently were invited to check out Noelia’s new menu, created by new executive chef TJ Fisher. It includes a variety of small plates, salads, “handhelds,” pastas, larger plates, sides, and even a kids’ menu.
The first thing to greet you is a basket of warm, crusty bread (made in house) accompanied by olivada (a blend of olive oil, Kalamata olives, and garlic). We started our meal with the duck confit sliders: homemade buttermilk biscuits layered with tender duck confit, crisp Granny Smith apple daikon slaw, pistachio, and farmers’ market jam. To follow, we grazed on the rocket and red romaine salad, draped with strips of shaved cantaloupe, studded with peppadew peppers and red onion semicircles, and sprinkled liberally with chopped pistachio nuts and chunks of St. Pete’s Bleu cheese, all bathed in an aged balsamic dressing. Our entrees included the fork-tender malt braised short rib, flanked by vibrantly-colored beet infused mashed potatoes with truffle and thyme and roasted rainbow carrots, and lacquered with a malted cola sauce; and the shrimp carbonara, five jumbo shrimp nestled in a bed of linguine with chives, guanciale, egg, parmesan cheese, tomato, garlic, and citrus zest. For dessert, don’t miss the corn and blackberry cheesecake: a housemade square of creamy ricotta cheesecake with roasted corn (both inside and out), ripe blackberries (ditto), and fresh mint, on a cinnamon graham cracker crust.
Want to change up your weekday routine? Then check out the happy hour at Noelia’s expansive wraparound bar, Monday from Friday from 5-7pm. It features $4 drafts, $5 house wines, $6 rail drinks, and menu items ranging between $5 and $7 (insider tip: the crispy calamari and the whipped ricotta flatbread offer the best value).
Looking for a change of pace? Then stop by the DC Food Bloggers’ Happy Hour this Wednesday to meet the area’s food bloggers (including yours truly) and to sample some of the items from Noelia’s new menu. Change is good!