Cafe Milano marks 25 years as Georgetown VIP spot
Cafe Milano, one of Washington’s most famous eateries — known as a place for lawmakers, VIPs and socialites to “see and be seen” — just celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Owner Franco Nuschese considers himself the “ringmaster” at the long-running culinary circus in Georgetown. He remembers when the hotspot first opened its doors more than two decades ago, the night in 1992 that Bill Clinton won the presidential election.
“Some of the people were drinking because they were celebrating, and some probably because they were sad,” he recalls with a laugh.
Since then, a virtual who’s who of Washington has pulled up a chair at the restaurant, including almost 100 heads of state and every president in office since that November 1992 opening.
“President Clinton, he was someone that he would pay attention and actually work all the tables,” says Nuschese. “To see the president himself working the tables in a restaurant, it’s not very easy to describe, but it’s magical.”
While Nuschese, who grants very few interviews, is notoriously tight-lipped about who dines at Cafe Milano, he does confirm that one particular commander in chief has yet to sit down there.
President Trump recently vowed to start venturing outside of the White House to some local restaurants in the nation’s capital. Nuschese says he’s hopeful one of the outings includes a meal at Milano.
“It’d be nice, I think, for any of the restaurants — whenever the president of the country visits them it makes people feel very, very special,” he said.
But in a political town, where warring lawmakers might both be breaking bread at opposite tables, Nuschese says serving up a bit of savoir faire is critical.
The mission, says Nuschese: “To control the power in the room.”
“That’s something that can be sometimes very challenging and sometimes not. But I can tell you, it’s always a lot of fun,” the Italian native says.
Nuschese celebrated his 25 years in business with a star-studded, blowout bash on Friday night that featured a slew of high-profile guests, including former NBA star Michael Jordan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Fox News’s Ed Henry, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), among many others.
After more than two decades catering to the Washington’s high-powered political players, Nuschese says the secret to success is simple: “We try always to make everybody feel special.”