WASHINGTON — Two well-known reality stars are stepping out from behind the cameras and into D.C.’s dining scene.
Bill Rancic, an entrepreneur and winner of the first season of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice,” and his wife, Giuliana, the former co-host of “E! News” and current host of E!’s “Fashion Police,” opened RPM Italian last week in D.C.’s Mount Vernon neighborhood.
It is the second location for the couple’s Italian concept. They opened RPM Italian with the restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You in their hometown of Chicago in 2012, and RPM Steak, also in the Windy City, in 2014.
In a recent interview with WTOP, Bill described the expansion into the District as “a homecoming.”
Giuliana’s family moved from Naples, Italy to Bethesda, Maryland, when the now 41-year-old was 6, he said. She attended school in Montgomery County and went on to receive degrees from The University of Maryland and American University. Her parents still own and operate the men’s clothing store Eduardo DePandi in Chevy Chase.
The Rancics, who also starred in their own seven-season reality series, “Giuliana And Bill,” describe RPM as “modern Italian” — but that’s not to say the menu lacks time-honored Italian favorites.
“It has some of the classic, traditional Italian fare that you would expect,” Bill said. “For example, all of our pastas are homemade from scratch every single morning, which you don’t see a lot.”
Each day, more than 12 different types of homemade pastas are available, including pappardelle, ravioli and cavatelli. Executive Chef Doug Psaltis told Washington City Paper he expects the restaurant will go through 250 pounds of pasta a night.
Bill says the most popular item at RPM’s Chicago location is a recipe that came straight from Giuliana’s childhood kitchen. It’s called Mama DePandi’s Pomodoro, and the simple dish is made with tomatoes, basil and fresh bucatini noodles.
“I have a feeling it’s probably going to be the No. 1 seller in D.C. too,” he said.
The menu has a range of hot and cold antipasti options (there’s a 600-day prosciutto, lobster caprese, fried olives and prime beef meatballs), as well as plenty of seafood options, slow-cooked meats and Italian classics, such as chicken Parmesan and piccata.
Bill says he and Giuliana’s personal favorites include the spicy king crab squid-ink pasta, the grilled octopus and the shredded Brussels sprouts salad.
Launching the 11,000 square-foot D.C. restaurant was a three-year project, but now that RPM Italian is open, Bill says Washingtonians can expect to see more of the couple in town.
“We love it there. We just spent the weekend there with our son and took him to the Air and Space Museum and the Lincoln Memorial, and for him to be exposed to that is spectacular,” he said.
RPM is currently open for dinner only. Reservations can be made online or via phone.