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Masseria Evolves with the Seasons and People

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In May 2014, a small city parcel stood in vacant disrepair. The building was once a produce warehouse, largely forgotten in a history-rich quadrant of our nation’s capital, the Union Market District. Yet, when viewed with a creative lens, the deep layers of history and texture were calling to be uncovered. Our team identified an opportunity to create an urban oasis in a neighborhood with minimal evening pedestrian traffic at the time of development. The use would be a unique dining destination reflective of DC, paying homage to the food history in the surrounding warehouse district. A timber and concrete wall would reveal an unexpected discovery within. Many of the existing layers of architecture would be kept and embraced, telling a deeper story of what was before.

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Just as important as the place are the people and their stories that give it soul. EDENS approached chef Nicholas Stefanelli, a rising star in the local food scene and a DC native, who embraced the building’s character as a canvas to tell his own story. His childhood visits to rural Italy left a deep mark. He was inspired by the masseria, the ancient farmhouse of Puglia that evolved in cuisine and character with the seasons and the travelers who visited. Stefanelli named his restaurant, Masseria.

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Grupo7, a local architecture firm focused on contemporary lifestyle projects, was tapped to bring the details to life. A ‘Bianchi Green’ handmade mosaic kitchen wall, oversized aged timber, iconic Mediterranean cement tile and steel windows created a space that captured both the simplicity of the Italian working farm and the grit of an urban setting.

Under the creative talent and leadership of Stefanelli, Masseria has flourished, becoming one of Washington’s most celebrated dining destinations, earning one Michelin star two years in a row and numerous national accolades. In November 2017, Masseria was awarded Gold in the ICSC Global Awards for Design & Development, the highest recognition for creativity in design, experience and outstanding project performance. Masseria was an early gem which helped set DC’s Union Market District on a national stage.