Olivia Ricchi is putting Bethesda’s nightlife and bar scene to the test.
Ricchi, daughter of Cesco Osteria founder and executive chef Francesco Ricchi, is opening an Italian beer garden on Thursday on the corner outdoor patio of her dad’s 7401 Woodmont Ave. restaurant.
The space will be called La Piazza and Ricchi is billing it as the first place of its kind in Bethesda. It has a separate menu from Cesco and six local craft beers from DC Brau, Flying Dog, Dogfish Head and Heavy Seas.
At least initially, the patio will be open from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“We’re curious to see if people will stay in Bethesda. My experience is that the sidewalks are clear pretty early,” Ricchi said. “Maybe it’ll become a destination one day. It really is unique, in terms of the feel compared to D.C. Maybe friends will be able to drive up to Bethesda to hang out with friends here.”
Ricchi and husband Yann Auzoux partnered with an event consultant and designer to create the rustic look of an Italian plazza for the patio. There are hand-built wood tables, bars, stools and a wooden canopy.
She had few regulatory difficulties in getting the beer garden off the ground. Cesco’s liquor license covers the patio and the menu of pizza, sausage and other birreria favorites will be cooked out of the same kitchen.
“We’ve been able to utilize some other permitting and obviously the legal entity is there to create a separate space for the beer garden,” Ricchi said. “From a branding, staffing and food standpoint, all of that is quite separate. The beers we’re featuring are not beers they carry at the restaurant. The food was custom designed for the beer garden itself. It’s a separate, kind of a younger, fun staff working outside.”