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Aventino and AP Pizza Shop Open in Bethesda, MD

The two new Washington DC-area spots from Mike Friedman showcase traditional Roman cuisine, New York-style pizza, Italian-American antipasti, and so much more.

9:00 AM EST on January 30, 2024

Carciofi “alla Giudia.”

Carciofi “alla Giudia” from the new Bethesda restaurant Aventino, which features a range of Italian dishes including this classic from Rome’s Jewish Ghetto. Photo: Scott Suchman

Aventino, a new Roman-inspired restaurant, and AP Pizza Shop, are elevating the Italian options available in Bethesda, MD, just outside the Washington, DC border. Both spots, opening tomorrow, January 31, are from Mike Friedman, the acclaimed chef behind DC standouts The Red Hen, All-Purpose Pizzeria, and Boundary Stone Public House. 

At a time when most of the news around restaurants is closures, it’s refreshing to see two new places opening side by side in a major metropolitan area. Even more promising is that they come from a team led by Friedman, a New Jersey native whose bio notes that he’s Jewish but grew up in an Italian neighborhood.

Chef Mike Friedman
Mike Friedman, the chef and restaurateur behind Bethesda's new

The proximity to pork stores has paid off, as Friedman’s DC-area Italian restaurants have developed loyal followings in the nation’s capital. Now, with Aventino, named after one of the seven major hills of Rome, he’s growing his footprint while making a statement about Italian cuisine. The menu at Aventino will showcase not only the famed pastas of Rome but will draw on the Roman-Jewish Ghetto’s culinary contributions, with dishes including the famed fried artichoke starter, Carciofi “alla Giudia.” It will also include a range of Roman snacks such as pizza rossa and suppli, and will pull from other regions of Italy for pastas and mains.

Pastry chef Ann Specker has drawn up a selection that looks beyond the usual tiramisu and includes budino di caffe as well as affogato with housemade gelato and animal crackers. The bar features a mix of classic and original cocktails with sly nods to Italy, like the Modena, a spritz made with blood orange, Lambrusco, and pomegranate. And there's an impressive selection of amaro and digestivo.

Enzo the Baker pizza
The Enzo the Baker Pizza from AP Pizza Shop, made with capicola bacon and pickled peppers. Photo: Scott Suchman

Next door to the contemporary 130-seat restaurant is AP Pizza Shop, a “love letter to the pizzerias of Chef Friedman’s youth in New York and New Jersey,” according to a press release. There are deck oven slices and pies, including an import from Friedman’s two All Purpose pizzerias, the Buona, with Bianco di Napoli tomatoes, mozzarella, pepperoni, grana, Calabrian chile honey, and basil. AP Pizza will have separate lunch and dinner menus, including a range of pizzas, salads, and starters. There’s also a kid’s menu with smaller pies and special dipping sauces. 

Friedman has partnered on the two concepts with Colin McDonough, Gareth Croke, and Mike O’Malley, also his partners in the pub Boundary Stone Public House. Check out more photos of Aventino and AP Pizza Shop below.

focaccia
Focaccia from Aventino in Bethesda. Photo: Scott Suchman
Aventino
Inside the new Aventino. Photo: Scott Suchman
Lumache in red sauce w/ grated cheese
Lumache from Aventino. Photo: Scott Suchman
Tortellini
Tortellini from Aventino. Photo: Scott Suchman
tagliata steak
A steak or "Tagliata" from Aventino. Photo: Scott Suchman
Budino di Caffe
Budino di Caffe from Aventino. Photo: Scott Suchman
Pizzas and a salad
Menu items from AP Pizza Shop. Photo: Scott Suchman
Ap Pizza Shop booths
AP Pizza Shop has limited seating as well as takeout and delivery. Photo: Scott Suchman

Aventino and AP Pizza Shop, 4747 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, MD, @aventinoccucina on Instagram, aventinocucina.com; @appizzashop on Instagram; appizzashop.com.

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