In a neighborhood home to a diverse group of District residents, one local and well-traveled couple hopes to add some additional international flare.
Rose Previte and David Greene plan to open a tavern featuring global foods, wines, beers and liquors in the 1346 T Street row house formerly occupied by Café Collage, which closed its doors this past September.
The new restaurant, called Compass Rose, will emphasize tastes and flavors the couple experienced from several years of traveling.
Spending time together in a restaurant is nothing new to Previte and Greene. The two met in 2002 when Previte worked at Pour House in Capitol Hill. At the time, Greene – who hosts NPR’s “Morning Edition” – served as a White House correspondent and was a regular customer at the bar.
Years later, Previte and Greene married, and have since spent much of their time traveling across the globe. Most recently, they lived in Eastern Europe for two years while Greene reported as NPR’s Moscow correspondent.
After returning to D.C., Previte decided she did not want to go back to her former job in local policy. Instead, she decided to share her travel experiences through food.
“We were in over 30 countries. This is my takeaway. This is how I can explain it,” said Previte, who is working with Pour House co-owner Mike Schuster as a business partner to open the restaurant.
“Whenever we come back from trips, we always talk about moments that were the most magical, especially when tasting something new,” Greene said. “On this last trip, we were in Armenia, just driving across the mountain, and we stopped at this random roadside place, and this guy brought us into this little room, sat us down and for nothing made this incredible pork kabob that was the most tender, beautiful, flavorful thing I’ve ever had. Those moments – we want to capture them and bring them in one place.”
Bringing together global flavors is something Previte has been exposed to since she was little.
“I grew up in a food world,” said Previte, whose mom is Lebanese and dad is Sicilian. “I grew up making sausages for street fairs and carnivals with my dad — a lawyer who would have rather been at street fairs and carnivals.”
To give customers a full taste of their travels, the menu will feature a variety of affordable international street food, as well as beers, wines and liquors.
“We’re really big on keeping it simple; it’s street food,” Previte said. “As much as I want it to be international and reminiscent of travel, the idea is that it’s going to be simple. You’re going to get your food in paper if it’s the type of sandwich that would come in paper off the truck.”
Some dishes Previte plans to put on the menu include arancini rice balls, inspired from a trip the couple took to Sicily; the Previte family recipe for Italian sausage sandwiches; homemade gyros; and khachapuri, a traditional Georgian cheese bread.
The couple also plans to devote extra attention to Georgian wines. A local distributor is helping Previte select the wine, and Previte is currently consulting on kitchen matters with the former chef of the Georgian embassy.
“Georgian wine is affordable compared to other wines,” Greene explained. “It’s really interesting and exciting in quality, and (Georgian wines) are winning awards, but you can get them for great prices.”
Previte plans to include selections from a few lesser-known wine regions, such as Israel, Croatia and Moldova. Additionally, the drink menu will showcase Lebanese craft beer and cocktails made from unique, international liquors. She also hopes to have some “very casual” pairings for the international menu options.
“I fell in love with drinking and eating at the same time a long time ago,” Previte said. “Beer and wine should work with what you’re eating, even if it’s really simple food.”
As for the interior of the 2,000 square foot space (soon-to-be smaller once the kitchen is installed), Previte plans to keep it cozy.
“We want to be small, we want to be community oriented, we want to know our neighbors,” Previte said. “Bartending on Capitol Hill taught me that – I married one of my regulars to prove it,” she said jokingly.
“I feel like it should be a second home,” Greene added. Previte agrees.
“I’ve always dreamt it would be an extension of my living room. I love entertaining and I grew up in a big family where all we did was eat, so it was always my goal to have a place that felt like you were in my home,” she said.
Currently, Previte is working to obtain the liquor license for Compass Rose. As for now, she hopes to open by the summer, but a date is not yet set. Follow the progress on Twitter @CompassRoseDC.