Spicy scents waft through the air to greet guests with the aromas and atmosphere of South Asia. The product of more than 25 years of South Asian–cuisine experience, Diya Restaurant, Lounge & Banquet's menu suffuses both meat and vegetarian dishes with potent herbs and spices. Tandoori ovens roast servings of salmon, jumbo shrimp, chicken, and lamb chop. Though fans of Indian cuisine can savor their old standbys, the restaurant has a few tricks up its sleeve as well—burgers tinge pub favorites with exotic spices, and ingredients take on even more flavor through Dumpukth—a technique of slow-roasting dishes over a fire in a tightly-sealed clay pot and seasoning food with specialized herbs and spices. The dining room's decor further strengthens the South Asian feel as bright colors embolden earth-toned walls and match the hues of ambitious side dishes vying for a starring role.
Joe set sail from Agrigento, Italy with his family in 1970 to land in New York, eventually leaving for Virginia to seek his version of the American dream and opening Joe’s Place. The eatery has been family-run for 34 years, which is long enough to see the art of fashion transform countless times and the art of reading a book stay suspiciously the same. Ovens spill out piles of crispy, thin-crust pizzas adorned with fresh toppings and cheeses—such as the white pizza with fontina and garlic and the seafood pizza with fresh shrimp and clams—and thick layers of dough support sicilian deep-dish pies. Cooks prepare pots of steaming pastas and build specialty subs with stacks of prosciutto, provolone, and capicollo. Members of Joe’s family work in both his restaurants, keeping the authentic Italian recipes in constant use, like the sun, a small percentage of which is also pasta sauce.
At Koi Asian Bistro, executive chef James Y. Park crafts a pan-Asian fusion menu that integrates fresh, local, and organic ingredients. Park draws from more than 20 years of experience, which includes stints collaborating with the original Iron Chefs in Japan, cooking in South Korean restaurants, and unearthing new seafood recipes in Atlantis. The menu showcases wholesome, flavorful bites such as a honey-butter sweet potato appetizer, monkfish pate, and a spicy tuna vampire roll. Chefs display entrees and sushi rolls in eye-catching arrangements replete with artfully drizzled sauces and unfussy white dishes.:m]]
Chefs at I-Thai Restaurant & Bar lean on the sweetness of shredded mango, the distinctive aromas of kefir lime leaves, and the bright greens, yellows, and reds of spicy thai chili pastes. Inside the dining area, natural light streams in through the windows, flitting through the steam that rises from marinated cornish game hen grilled with spicy sour herb sauce and deep-fried duck crowned with chili sauce and basil leaves. During lunch hours, a buffet near the full bar brims with vegetables, fried rice, and noodles like lyrics written by a hungry musician. The simple black-and-white interior contrasts sharply with the colorful food, letting green papaya and crimson peppers shine.
Nostos Restaurant quells the moans of ravenous stomach sirens with lunch- and dinner-menu selections made with extra-virgin olive oil, Dodonis feta cheese, and fresh Mediterranean fish. Noontime noshers wrap their hands around the Greek–style burger known as pita bifteki, which comes slathered with tzatziki and is swaddled in a pillowy pita pocket ($13). Show off kindergarten-honed sharing skills with Nostos’s toothsome roster of mezedes (small plates), including a htapodi xidato that features marinated octopus backstroking in a flavorful pool of olive oil, vinegar, and herbs ($11 lunch, $12 dinner). Chefs slow-roast arnaki fournou, the boneless leg-of-lamb entree ($16 lunch, $17 dinner), and they season the fresh grilled sea bass ($26 lunch, $27 dinner) with pure olive oil, lemon, and mermaid tears. Unclothed pitas dive gleefully into dips such as zing-infused taramosalata, a lemony fish-roe mousse ($6 lunch, $6.50 dinner).
The third and newest outpost of owner Asad Sheikh's culinary empire, Curry Mantra 3 shares the rich flavors of traditional Indian cuisine through a spread of curry dishes. The menu, which was praised by the Washington Post, points out signature "must try" items, such as lamb aamwala cooked with mango in a tomato and onion sauce or the vegetarian saffron malai kofta—cottage cheese dumplings served with a creamy saffron gravy. Guests can also enjoy tender entrees and fresh breads cooked in Curry Mantra 3's tandoori ovens, all while seated in an elegant dining room where a gleaming statue stands as a sentinel watching over meals and patiently waiting for someone to offer him their leftovers.