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Aggio: The Story Behind Its Sleek, Dark Vibe

By Olga Boikess
March 23, 2014
Photo by: Lorraine Fitzsimmons

The nine-day transformation of Range’s private dining area - once a windowless, colorless expanse - into Aggio, a warm, sophisticated enclave for formal Italian dining began with a “what if” joke. While chef Bryan Voltaggio and his business partner Hilda Staples were looking for a site for their new project, they realized that Range's space was big enough for three restaurants, and that its seven-station kitchen could support a second venue. So they decided to carve out a boutique restaurant in its back rooms.

They went to work in mid-January, opening the concept as planned on Valentine’s Day, about a month later. (To put this timetable in perspective: most restaurants have a gestation period measured in years.) Because the construction and installation needed to transform the space would result in loss of revenue from the operating restaurant, they planned to have the physical work done in just over a week. Designer Rhonda McLaughlin worked with Staples and Voltaggio to make it happen. Check out the slideshow to see how they went about this daunting task.

5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW; 202-803-8020

  • Photo by: Ken Goodman

    Situated just beyond Range’s bar and open-kitchen, the dining and private events space was, like the rest of the space, done up in pale woods with white leather banquettes. So how to make it stand out as part of a new concept? The surprising answer: Make the windowless space darker. The tricky part: Don’t make it a dungeon.

  • Photo by: Christopher Anderson

    The transformation was accomplished by covering up those Range-like features with dry wall, and tufted black leather. The redone paint and wallpaper, colored in shades of black and gray with gold accents and circular elements (to contrast with angular Range), give the space a new dimension.

    Staples says it took them five minutes to make a decision from the samples McLaughlin assembled. A guarantee of on-time delivery of materials was a key factor.

  • Photo by: Lorraine Fitzsimmons

    An entrance was crafted with two walls and hostess stand, which were the only elements made from scratch. A new wood-planked wall, with circular cut-outs, as well as mirrors and plush draperies, set off a private dining room.

  • Photo by: Christopher Anderson

    A posh and inviting lounge with new black velvet seats was constructed.

  • Photo by: Lorraine Fitzsimmons

    New chandeliers add flattering light and circular accents.

  • White tablecloths, elegant glassware and flowers are a nod to old-school Italian fine dining, as is the formal, but not too stiff, service. The objective is to pay tribute to the serious cooking, while creating an intimate atmosphere for special occasions.

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Places Mentioned

RANGE

New American • Friendship Heights

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Aggio

Italian • Friendship Heights

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
 
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