Wood Fired Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Translating to “little one” in Italian, Piccolina is the sophomore restaurant from award-winning Washington DC Chef and Owner Amy Brandwein. The all-day café located across the alley from Brandwein’s Centrolina in CityCenterDC features a menu cooked over wood fire, alongside a variety of freshly baked breads inspired by the chef’s travels through Italy. Counter service invites guests to dine-in or enjoy chef’s dishes to-go. Piccolina is a reflection of Chef Brandwein’s interpretation of Italian cuisine. The bright and cozy space, with an open view of the wood-fired oven, invites guests to enjoy a casual meal inspired by the flavors of Italy.
Nearly everything served at Piccolina comes cooked in the wood-fired oven. Guests can find a variety of dishes on the all-day menu—evocative of a small osteria in Italy—from omelettes and crepes to vegetables served chilled or warmed in the oven, Sicilian street foods and sandwiches, and mains made popular at Centrolina’s mercato. Treats like granita-filled brioche, profiteroles with berries and whipped cream, and Italian cookies are showcased in the pastry case. A growing collection of bread—all inspired by traditional Italian products lovingly researched by Brandwein, who attended the San Francisco Bread Institute and traveled throughout Italy to bolster her knowledge—are baked fresh daily by in-house.
ABOUT CHEF AMY BRANDWEIN
At Centrolina restaurant and market in CityCenterDC, Chef and Owner Amy Brandwein shows Washingtonians the versatility, grace, and overall delicacy of Italian cuisine. The three-time James Beard Foundation Award nominee believes food should taste as good as in Italy, plated with pose, and viewed through the seasonal lens of the Mid-Atlantic—tenets she instills in her new fast-casual project, Piccolina, an osteria opening across the alley from Centrolina in July 2019. “I take Italian food and keep it in its raw state but elevate it presentation-wise without complicating it or losing flavor,” Brandwein explains. “There is something inherently captivating about Italian flavors with an artistic and modern edge, while still being fresh and natural.”
Brandwein and her flagship restaurant have earned many accolades, including James Beard Foundation Award finalist for three consecutive years (2019, 2018, 2017) in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category; nomination for 2019 Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington RAMMY Awards; 2018 Chef of the Year at the RAMMY Awards (2018); as well as previous RAMMY Award nominations, including Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year (2018), Chef of the Year (2018, 2017, 2016), and New Restaurant of the Year (2016), in addition to Rising Culinary Star (2007).
In spring 2015, Brandwein opened Centrolina to fanfare not just for her appealing approach to Italian cuisine, but also because of her business savvy and the then-distinctive position of being a sole female chef and owner. Brandwein soon realized her accomplishments meant she needed to play a larger role for the culinary industry: to be an example for women chefs to visualize and realize their own success. In 2017, Brandwein accepted the James Beard Foundation's prestigious Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership Program fellowship. She earned additional scholarships from the foundation, as well as the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
With a dedication to responsibly and locally sourced ingredients, Brandwein became an early partner with DC Urban Greens, a nonprofit urban farm located in Ward 7 and 8, that provides fresh and affordable produce to the local community—Centrolina and Piccolina are DC Urban Green’s only wholesale client. In September 2017, Brandwein participated in the James Beard Foundation’s 10th Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, a program dedicated to educating and training likeminded chefs to become more effective leaders for the food-system change.
An advocate for charities that support healthy eating and ending hunger, Brandwein is also an active supporter of So Others Might Eat, DC Central Kitchen, and Martha's Table. She is a longtime member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.