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The original Acqua Al 2 came to life in Florence in 1978. Over the past 36 years, the restaurant has become an intimately loved dining establishment by world travelers, local Florentines, and international celebrities. In 2010, Ari Gejdenson, after being a part of Acqua al 2 in Florence, decided to move home and open in Washington DC. With the help of childhood friend and fellow DC native, Ralph Lee, he opened the doors of the Acqua al 2 in Eastern Market, just six blocks from where he grew up. The internationally-loved restaurant uses the same menu as the Florentine original, and brings to the city the same true Italian dining experience as one would encounter on the Piazza della Signoria.
Gejdenson landed in Florence after leaving high school to play soccer overseas. There, the young ex-pat opened an American-style restaurant, known as Ari’s Diner, just steps from Acqua al 2. Lee, fresh out of playing collegiate soccer for JMU, moved out to Florence to help him operate it. Gejdenson and Stefano Innocenti, owner of Acqua al 2, struck up a fast friendship as they compared stories and shared tips from across Via Ghibellina. The two partnered up and Gejdenson took over as Chef at Acqua al 2 under Innocenti’s tutelage. Years later, Gejdenson came home to open in DC while Innocenti continues to operate both Acqua al 2 and the American Diner in Florence.
The restaurant offers a unique selection of Assaggio (literally meaning “taste”) chef’s choice samplers. Guests can try a sampling of three house salads with the Assaggio di Insalata, while the Assaggio di Dolci offers guests a taste of four sweet house made desserts. But their most popular are the Assaggio di Primi, a chef’s selection of five unique, fresh pastas and the Assaggio di Secondi, which features tasting portions of three of their most popular steaks, ranging from the popular filets to the unique Controfiletto al Pepe Verde, a hand-carved New York steak sautéed and topped with a green peppercorn, brandy, Dijon mustard and cream sauce. Whether guests dine a la carte, or choose to customize their own menu for private events, Acqua al 2 prides itself on the execution of an authentic dining experience.