At Centrolina restaurant and market in CityCenterDC, Chef and Owner Amy Brandwein shows Washingtonians the versatility, grace, and overall delicacy of Italian cuisine. The five – time James Beard Award nominee believes food should taste as good as in Italy, plated with pose, and viewed through the seasonal lens of the Mid-Atlantic—tenets she instills in her fast- casual project, Piccolina, an osteria that opened across the alley from Centrolina in July 2019. “I take Italian food and keep it in its raw state but elevate it presentation-wise without complicating it or losing flavor,” Brandwein explains. “There is something inherently captivating about Italian flavors with an artistic and modern edge, while still being fresh and natural.”
Brandwein and her flagship restaurant have earned many accolades, including James Beard Foundation Award finalist for five years (2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017) in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category; nomination for 2019 Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington RAMMY Awards; 2018 Chef of the Year at the RAMMY Awards (2018); as well as previous RAMMY Award nominations, including Upscale Casual Restaurant of the Year (2018), Chef of the Year (2018, 2017, 2016), and New Restaurant of the Year (2016), in addition to Rising Culinary Star (2007).Piccolina was also recognized as one of Esquire’s Best New Restaurants in 2019.
In spring 2015, Brandwein opened Centrolina to fanfare not just for her appealing approach to Italian cuisine, but also because of her business savvy and the then-distinctive position of being a sole female chef and owner. Brandwein soon realized her accomplishments meant she needed to play a larger role for the culinary industry: to be an example for women chefs to visualize and realize their own success. In 2017, Brandwein accepted the James Beard Foundation’s prestigious Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program fellowship. She earned additional scholarships from the foundation, as well as the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
With a dedication to responsibly and locally sourced ingredients, Brandwein became an early partner with DC Urban Greens, a nonprofit urban farm located in Ward 7 and 8, that provides fresh and affordable produce to the local community—Centrolina and Piccolina are DC Urban Green’s only wholesale client. In September 2017, Brandwein participated in the James Beard Foundation’s 10th Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, a program dedicated to educating and training likeminded chefs to become more effective leaders for the food- system change.
An advocate for charities that support healthy eating and ending hunger, Brandwein is also an active supporter of So Others Might Eat, DC Central Kitchen, and Martha’s Table. She is a longtime member of Les Dames d’Escoffier and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.
Awards & Press
- James Beard Award