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Nick Stefanelli's stash of vintage amari complements dinner at his Northeast Italian resto, Masseria.

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1 Rare Spirit

By Nevin Martell

Photography by Greg Powers

06.29.17

Part of our 50 finest things happening in the DC food scene right now.

Perched over the bar at chef Nick Stefanelli’s chic Italian tasting-menu restaurant Masseria, a collection of old-fashioned bottles with yellowing labels draws the eye. It’s more than two-dozen antiquated amari, including a trio from the 1950s: Gentile’s Rabarbaro, Cynar of Rome and Amaro Felsina of Bologna. (The spirits bear no vintages, so ages are roughly approximated by the label designs and tax stamps.) Nearly impossible to find, these classic digestivos have been painstakingly hunted down at auctions and estate sales. Stefanelli recommends trying an old-school amaro alongside its contemporary to compare the two. “You see what age does and how it changes a spirit,” he says. “And you get to taste a piece of history.” This liquid library will expand when the chef opens his still-to-be-named three-story market-trattoria at the Wharf next spring, where he plans to devote an entire bar to amari. 1340 Fourth St. NE, masseria-dc.com