New restaurant Range offers unusually delicious fare

By Carolyn Freeman

Celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio, owner of the restaurant Volt, brought a burst of energy to the Friendship Heights food scene with Range, his new restaurant.

The kitchen can easily be seen from your seats at Range. Chefs prepare food made from locally-grown produce. Photo by James Ireland.

Range, which opened Dec. 18 in the Chevy Chase pavilion, provides an excellent eating experience; everything from the unconventionally delicious food to the attentive service is superb.

The first, most noticeable aspect of the restaurant is how open and lively it is. The bright colors and lighting create an upbeat atmosphere, unlike many fancy restaurants that have a darker look. The dining room is spacious and gives diners a view of the chefs making pizzas and flipping food in frying pans in the kitchen.

The menu is divided into 10 categories: the raw seafood bar, the bakery, the cold kitchen, the wood pizza oven, the wood grill and roasted items. The other categories are side dishes and specials, pastas and the salumeria, a meat section.

The idea is similar to a tapas restaurant: patrons order several small dishes and share them. It’s easy to get carried away and order many dishes, and prices, although modest, can add up.

Range describes its dishes as traditionally American with a modern twist. This style is apparent in everything from the salami slices containing pieces of pistachio to the mashed potatoes with “everything” in them, like an everything bagel. It was no surprise that the dishes were fresh because the produce is raised on site.

The freshness and authentic preparation of the food make for a great meal. I ordered the pistachio salami, sausage pizza, lamb chops, wood roasted carrots and turnips, and the everything mashed potatoes. The vegetables looked and tasted like they were just harvested, and the lamb chops were tender and savory. With a modern twist on traditional pizza, Range’s pizza had a delicious sweet flavor that’s unexpected in normal meat pizzas.

Such a non-traditional style of eating takes explaining, but the wait staff describes the organization of the restaurant and each of the dishes thoroughly. They spend time at each table to answer questions and have an enthusiastic attitude that adds to the pleasant dining experience.

When describing Range’s homemade ginger beer, for example, one waiter went into great detail just to describe the beer’s strong, spicy flavor. To top off any meal, there’s a wide array of unique dessert options including pieces of candy from the candy store at the front of the restaurant.

Reservations are hard to come by — weekend reservations are booked through March — but the restaurant seats walk-ins at the bar and lounge area on a first-come, first-serve basis. Without a reservation, seats will go quickly, but the staff works hard to make space for customers. If you want a guaranteed spot and can plan ahead, it’s worth the wait.