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Italian market opens on Capitol Hill

Radici co-owner Bridget Thibodeau Sasso

A selection of Radici's cheeses

In the Capitol Hill space formerly occupied by the Silver Spork, 303 7th Street SE, the Italian-goods market Radici has quietly opened.
“The oven got hooked up [on Tuesday],” says Bridget Thibodeau Sasso, one of the owners of Radici, which is Italian for roots. “It is a phenomenal oven!”
The oven’s being operational is one more thing Sasso can check off a list of to-dos that is pretty much endless. “I set myself up for crazy all the time,” she laughs between making an espresso for a customer, talking to one of her assistant chefs, answering the phone and sitting down with a reporter.
She gestures downward. “This flooring comes from the oldest terra cotta manufacturer in Italy,” she says. “Manetti Gusmano & Figli. They did the terra cotta inside Brunelleschi’s dome,” which crowns the 15th century cathedral in Florence, Italy. Above her, the handblown light fixtures came from a glassblower in Venice.
Married to an Italian for the past 13 years, the U.S.-born Sasso moved her family in 2008 to Vienna, Va. from a village called San Quirico in Collini. The years in Italy – where her daughter, now 17, was born – acquainted Sasso with a wide range of small producers of foodstuffs, from pastas to wines to jams. Under the business name Il Pioppo (“the poplar”), she started exporting these artisanal products to the U.S., then switched to importing them when she got back to the States. “I’m so attached to my [producers] in Italy,” she says. “They are like family to me.” (Incidentally, Friedman’s and Sasso’s four children now operate Il Pioppo.)
As she and mentor/business partner Phil Friedman (“He is the business to my creative”) considered places where they might open a premium Italian food shop, the kind of business Sasso had long dreamed of opening, Capitol Hill attracted her the most.
“I was always looking for that European-style neighborhood,” she says. “I wanted to see moms with strollers and businesspeople passing through on their way to work.”
With that busy mother in mind, Sasso plans to stock prepared Italian dishes as well as dinner ingredients in Radici. She also hopes the harried lawyer or lobbyist heading home from Eastern Market metro will stop for a glass of wine on the patio. 

Read more articles by Amy Rogers Nazarov.

Amy Rogers Nazarov is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist with more than 25 years experience as a staff reporter and a freelance writer, covering technology, adoption, real estate, and lifestyle topics from food & drink to home organizing. Her byline has appeared in Cooking Light, The Washington Post, Slate, Washingtonian, The Writer, Smithsonian, The Washington Post Express, The Baltimore Examiner, The Sacramento Bee, Cure, The Washington Times, Museum, and many other outlets. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists & Authors and tweets at @WordKitchenDC.
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