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Menu Talk with Pat and Bret

Johnny Spero gets ready to reopen Reverie in Washington, D.C.

The tasting-menu-only restaurant was lost in a fire, but the chef and restaurateur has big plans for its future


Johnny Spero has been cooking for pretty much his whole life, and he has been running his own restaurants since he opened Reverie in the Washington, D.C., neighborhood of Georgetown in 2018. The intimate fine-dining restaurant took its lumps over the course of the pandemic, but it was done in by a fire in August of 2022, from which nothing but memories was salvaged.

Spero already had established himself as a big-name chef: When he was executive chef of José Andrés’s Minibar in D.C., Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema had given the restaurant a four-star review and the local declared him “Chef of the Year.” He also competed in the Netflix show, The Final Table.

Before the fire, Reverie had been granted a Michelin star.

He also had another restaurant, the more casual Bar Spero inspired by the time he spent in Spain’s Basque country, including a stage at the much lauded Mugaritz. But as he tried to pick up the pieces from the fire, and planned to reopen Reverie, Spero took the time to travel the world, doing collaborative pop-ups and continuing to learn how operators from around the world ran their own restaurants, sourced their food, and worked to make their own corners of the globe a better place.

Reverie is about to reopen — its debut is slated for late February — and Spero recently discussed what he has learned since the fire, and what his plans are for the future.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] 

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