In November 2020, Katherine Saltzman, our business reporter at the time, wrote a short article for us about Tesoro Trattoria & Pizzeria.
“Tesoro Trattoria & Pizzeria is not the same Tesoro that was at 4400 Connecticut Avenue for almost 20 years,” Saltzman wrote.
Ignazio Bonanni opened the original Tesoro in 2000, and sold the restaurant in summer 2019 to brother-and-sister team Enrico and Angela De Rosa. Enrico De Rosa worked part-time at the restaurant. He helped select the wine menu and managed the bar.
The De Rosa siblings have worked in the food and wine business for more than 15 years, both in Washington and in Italy. Their grandfather opened a bakery in Puglia, which was passed on to their father. Both started working there as children, and shortly after high school, Angela De Rosa managed the bakery full time.
Beginning in 1985, their father started to export wine and taralli, a Puglia specialty, to North America. Taralli are snacks that have been compared to pretzels and breadsticks. The small, unleavened rings can be sweet or savory, and they’ve recently caught on in the U.S. and throughout Italy. But, Enrico said, “We were ahead of time, sometimes when you are ahead of time, you miss the right time.”
Timing hasn’t been entirely on Tesoro Trattoria & Pizzeria’s side.
The article goes on to mention the restaurant’s delay in acquiring its liquor license, but that line about timing was prescient. Before we could complete fact-checking and publish the article about the De Rosas and Tesoro Trattoria, Covid-19 cases began to blow up, and before long, all DC restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms.
The De Rosas and partner David Lobo, only a few months after they opened the new Tesoro, were facing a crisis like none had before. They laid off their eight employees. And then, according to an April 2020 report in The Washington Post, they did everything, “from chopping vegetables to delivering orders. On their best day in the two weeks after the dine-in ban, the trio had 12 takeout orders. On their worst day, they had one.”
“It’s like heaven and hell,” Enrico De Rosa told Post.
So, we want to take a moment to appreciate this post on the Tesoro Facebook page on June 6th, 2021.
“It’s been a little tough because of Covid but we are still here,” Enrico De Rosa tells Forest Hills Connection. People from the neighborhood have been Tesoro Trattoria’s saving grace these last several months, he said. He wanted to express his thanks to the neighbors, and to the regulars who have kept them going.
It’s a sentiment echoed in in another recent Facebook post, “We cannot be more grateful for your patronage and support as we finally start to see light at the end of this long tunnel. Seeing our food put smiles on your faces is priceless and warms our hearts. It is SO good to be back in action, almost in full swing! See you next time, buona serata!”
More glimpses of “normal”
Buck’s Fishing and Camping (5031 Connecticut) is dear to Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema’s heart. In June, he returned for his first meal at his “sanctuary” in 14 months. The homecoming was an emotional one.
At Politics and Prose (5015 Connecticut), extended store hours, and no masks for vaccinated customers:
At Little Red Fox (5035 Connecticut):
Hey 👋 🦊 pic.twitter.com/8jM0lx5pv6
— Little Red Fox (@littleredfoxdc) June 22, 2021
6,000 and counting
Forest Hills-based Washington Photo Safari is celebrating its 6,000th session, which founder E. David Luria says was conducted on June 30th with hard-to-get Panda Passes at the National Zoo. Since 1999, Luria and his fellow instructors have been teaching people how to get the most out of their camera, whether its an SLR or integrated into a smartphone.
Over the past year, Luria has also hosted photo safaris at neighborhood restaurants, in an effort to support them in their time of need. Van Ness Main Street recognized his efforts with its Spirit of Van Ness Award.
From service station to radio station
Decades ago, Van Ness was “Gasoline Alley” (to the chagrin of many residents). Streets of Washington has collected a piece of that history. Click on the photo in the tweet below to see the entire image.
Matchbook cover from the Cleveland Park Service Station, located at 4401 Connecticut Ave NW in Van Ness, where the WAMU building now stands. This commercial stretch of Connecticut Avenue used to be crowded with gas stations. @foresthillsnews pic.twitter.com/Wax0p3lyd5
— Streets of Washington (@StreetsOfDC) June 21, 2021