If Bryce Harper does leave the Nationals for another team during the offseason, one of the things the Las Vegas native will miss most about the city he’s adopted as his second home over the past seven years is the Italian food.
During a recent video shoot with Under Armour to promote and describe the limited edition cleats he will sport in Monday’s Home Run Derby and Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Nationals Park, Harper was asked about a variety of topics, including the best parts about playing in D.C., his favorite places around town and his go-to restaurants. Harper offered a different spot in the District for every meal of the day.
“D.C.’s not known for breakfast, I don’t feel like,” Harper said. “On the West Coast, you have breakfast burritos, you have such good breakfast, and I love hash browns, so that’s one of my biggest things. But Silver Diner has a really good breakfast. Lunch, it really just depends on what you’re feeling, but Acqua al 2 is really, really good. They have one here and one in Italy. … For dinner, Filomena. Really good. They really treat you like you’re a part of the family, and it’s a lot of fun to just go in there and enjoy a night and eat some good food.”
Harper has long been a fan of Acqua al 2, which originated in Florence and opened its D.C. location near Eastern Market in 2010.
“Never disappoints,” Harper said in an Instagram video in 2016 after leaving Ari Gejdenson’s restaurant. “Just so excited to be back home and back where I belong, and that’s in D.C.”
(You may know the restaurant by its Italian pronunciation — ah-qwa-all-doo-eh — but Harper always says ah-qwa-all-two, which gets me every time. Anyway, it’s not nearly as egregious as his butchered pronunciation of ‘meme.’)
While there’s a Silver Diner in Cherry Hill, N.J., which is only a short drive from Citizens Bank Park should Harper join the Phillies, there would be no replacing the Nationals fans who have supported Harper since he arrived in the big leagues in 2012.
“I actually struck out in my first at-bat and I got a standing ovation,” Harper said of his home debut. “That just goes to show how much they do love this team and how much they do love their players as well. I’ve grown to love the city, each and every day, and my family as well. I can definitely say this is my second home. Coming out here, I enjoy coming to D.C. every single summer. I enjoy this town and the way they are. They deserve a lot. They do a great job coming out and supporting us every single night. Our goal and our mission is to hopefully win a World Series for this organization and these fans and this city, and bring back that trophy and hopefully have a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Harper also described his love for D.C.’s “incredible museums and incredible historical sites,” some of which are featured on the blue and white custom cleats he will wear for Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Nationals Park. The base and heel of the ‘Harper 3’ features a marble design, while the interior features a cherry blossom pattern.
Harper, who has debuted new Under Armour cleats for special occasions throughout his career, will wear stars-and-stripes themed footwear for Monday’s Home Run Derby. Both cleats will be available for purchase Monday at 10 a.m.
“There’s so much history in this town,” Harper said. “It’s pretty incredible to have an American flag on my cleat, and to really know what freedom is all about. You see that every day playing in D.C. We have a lot of military Mondays, a lot of Navy vets coming out, DCPD or DCFD that come out as well.”
If Harper wins the Home Run Derby, don’t be surprised to see him at Silver Diner or Acqua al 2 the following day.
Read more on the All-Star Game: