Owners Damian and Stephanie Salvatore opened Sal’s Italian Kitchen in Cabin John on Wednesday, completing the restaurant’s transition from the Asian concept Indigo House.
The owners opened Indigo House a little over a year ago, but Stephanie Salvatore said it never reached the level of success the couple had hoped for. So the husband-and-wife team decided to return to Damian’s Italian roots and open Sal’s.
“Damian’s dad is from Italy,” Stephanie Salvatore said. “The Italian aspect is something know. We spend lots of time around the dinner table and we both come from families where it’s always about dinner, always about food. So from that perspective it would seem a good choice for us. It’s something we feel very comfortable with both culturally and food-wise.”
Over the past month they’ve repainted the MacArthur Boulevard restaurant, added new decorations such as bottles of olive oil, canned tomatoes and leafy plants to give the space a Tuscan vibe and have written a menu filled with paninis, pastas and cioppino.
The couple was careful not to duplicate dishes offered at Wild Tomato, one of their restaurants that’s located in the same shopping center. Salvatore said Wild Tomato will focus on pub fare while Sal’s will offer more traditional Italian dishes. And Wild Tomato will continue to have a monopoly on pizza, which isn’t being served at Sal’s.
The Salvatores also own the American bistro Persimmon in Bethesda.
The owners have given the new restaurant a local flare with a large chalk board calendar that lists game times for local high school lacrosse teams and other sports. The décor outside includes tile tables with wrought iron chairs on a cozy patio.
The restaurant, which is open daily for lunch and dinner, hosts a happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday at the bar. Sal’s Italian Kitchen is at 7945 MacArthur Blvd.
The patio space at Sal's. All photos by Andrew Metcalf