For many, Sampino’s Towne Foods is a lunchtime spot to get excellent Italian sandwiches—that meatball sub!—and maybe pick up some fresh ravioli to take home for dinner.
Sampino’s die-hard fans, however, knew the deli also delivered an epic, eight-course feast on Friday nights. Those went on for a few years but came to a brief halt earlier this summer in order to prepare for the next phase of Sampino’s: regular dinner service.
Now, you can dine at Sampino’s (1607 F Street) every Friday and Saturday night and order off of a new, a la carte menu. Sampino’s took over the space next door a while ago for a beer and wine bar—and the additional seating needed for dinner.
According to Gaby Sampino, who runs the place with her husband Michael Sampino and his father Bill Sampino, the menu is still in flux as the family takes in customer feedback. She’s adding osso bucco, veal scallopine and mussels with linguine for this weekend’s services, for example.
In addition to a small selection of starters and salads, there’s risotto and pasta; some familiar sandwiches from the lunchtime menu, but a few bucks more expensive; a massive burger with bacon, fontina, jalapenos and chipotle aioli ($16.95); and main dishes. Some examples: salmon roulade with lemon beurre blanc ($22.95); a half rack of lamb with mint-berry sauce ($24.95); and homemade sausage with peppers and onions ($18.95). If those dishes—or pastas like the lasagna and meatballs ($18.95) or mushroom ravioli with sage cream ($18.95)—sound a bit pricey, note that they all come with soup or salad and gelato.
A jazz trio plays during dinner, though Gaby anticipates removing that feature once the family feels settled with the added service. In addition to the usual lunch rush, Gaby, Michael and Bill are all helping cook dinner, along with sous chef Johana Moreno, formerly of Delta King and Broderick Roadhouse. And the eight-course, prixe-fixe dinners aren’t totally gone, either. Instead, they’ll be once per month. There isn’t a defined schedule, but the next one takes place October 14.
Currently there’s only one beer on draft—Peroni—with plans to add three more, including a local brew. The wine list remains short, focused on Italian and local wines.
And if you go, you’ll be greeted by three generations of Sampinos.
“Me, my kids, my father-in-law—we are all serving tables,” Gaby says. “We really care.”