Eater D.C. editor Gabe Hiatt recently declared Sergio Ristorante Italiano’s demise as the restaurant closing of 2020 that affected him the most.
In the December article D.C. Restaurant Experts Discuss the Saddest Closings of 2020, Mr. Hiatt and other local food writers, bloggers, and industry professionals discussed the closure of area restaurants that cut deep:
Trying to run a restaurant is a total farce right now, so my heart goes out to everyone who had to call it quits. The closing that hit me the hardest was Sergio Ristorante Italiano, the basement-level Italian-American place in the Silver Spring Doubletree that ended a 37-year run. Extroverted owner Sergio Toni was a trip, and his more reserved son, Luigi, kept the place humming along with affably cheesy charm. The spinach- and gorgonzola-stuffed pork chop in brandy cream sauce was a personal favorite (and hard to get; it was often sold out). So were the fettuccine ai frutti di mare and the super-light tiramisu. I was also very bummed to see modern Mexican hideaway Poca Madre, my go-to for mezcal cocktails with friends, go down. RIP to the Post Pub, A&D, and Maddy’s Taproom, all places where I made memories bending an elbow with coworkers and friends.
Sergio Ristorante Italiano closed in September of last year, ending a 37-year-run inside the Doubletree Hotel at 8727 Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring. According to Bethesda Beat, the restaurant had closed in mid-March at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and did not stay open for takeout or delivery.
Cut through the lobby of the DoubleTree in downtown Silver Spring, walk past the door to the garage and take a few steps down into Sergio Ristorante. Below the hotel, Luigi Toni keeps his father’s place humming, playing host, waiter and manager. The same waiters who have been charming patrons for years are still here, wearing crisp white shirts and ties and calling your date “bella” as they refill the wine. (Getting pleasantly drunk is likely, because a liter of house white costs $20.) The menu is two pages of Italian-American classics printed on laminated Microsoft Word documents, and it hasn’t changed either. The stuffed pork chop ($18) is bursting with spinach and gorgonzola and draped in brandy cream sauce. House-made pastas such as shrimp ravioli and ham and pea tortellini are soft and floating in pools of butter and cream. Romantic, cozy and dripping with nostalgia, this is the kind of place where everyone applauds as a grandma blows out her birthday candles.
The Doubletree Hotel, which also closed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, has not reopened.
Photo by David Lay