Proprietor/Executive Chef: Mike Isabella
707 6h St NW, Washington DC
Between Mike Isabella and Dale Talde, I can’t tell which Top Chef contestant was cockier… Yep, that was my first impression watching Mike on Top Chef… Arrogant jerk.. but as the show went on, I thought to myself…ok this guy MAY have a right to be proud in his own rite. AND also considering that he has been the head chef of Zaytinya since 2007, I became less judgmental. The food at Zaytinya speaks for itself. It’s delicious, amazing and hits the spot every single time you leave. My feelings warmed up to Mike immediately. When I heard he left Zaytinya in pursuit of trying to open up his own restaurant, I patiently awaited. With that being said, I left DC about 4 years ago… I recently visited over the past few months and a friend of mine informed me that she had heard great things about Graffiato. Naturally, I made reservations.
What I thought of the food….the menu has a great variety. Pizzas and small Italian plates make it easy to share and taste a variety of food. None of the pizza options was enticing, so I stuck to small plates… My highlights include: marinated octopus, soft shell crab, lamb ragu pasta and lobster risotto….we also had spare ribs too which melted in your mouth…. Everything for the most part was seasoned very well. The charcuterie and burrata were also very good. Very straightforward, modern Italian cuisine, yet tasty flavors that all blended heartily. I like that the portions were not big at all, so if you get a chance, go in a group of 4 or more…. you’ll definitely get to taste more plates and just have fun! If you order only 1-2 dishes, you are missing out on a great menu. The cocktails, while not extensive and unusual, can hold their own. Try the sage & confused… ultimate refresher.
Burrata w/ honey glazed onions and nigella
The perfect combo of sweet and creaminess. I love the delicate taste of burrata cheese…best served at room temp.
Not a hell lot of a selection, but still good.
Truffle Pizza with Egg Yolk
My friend ordered this…. I like the concept, but I wasn’t a big fan of the pizza here… if you’re going to put egg yolk on top of a pizza, you need something else to give it texture. I’ve had better in NYC.
Meatball Pizza (Goodfellas)
Brussel Sprouts w/ maple glaze
I have ordered brussel sprouts almost every time I see it on the menu. I LOVE brussel sprouts, and I find it very hard for Restaurants to f*ck it up. Why? Most people have got down the secret sauce. If you make em’ crispy enough, they just taste delicious. I really don’t understand why SO many people dislike them. It goes well with almost EVERYTHING…. sweetness (maple), creaminess (egg yolk), saltiness (hazelnuts), meatiness (mmmmm BACON). The combinations are endless and cooking them almost effortless.
Pork Cheek (special)
Pretty f*ing tender… and when it flakes with a touch of your fork… makes it pretty taste. A little heavy and on the salty side… this was an OK dish for me. Needs white rice, or more water to wash all that salt down with it.
Crispy Potato Gnocchi w/wild mushrooms, stracciatella & favas)
Good lord…this dish was also stellar. The gnocchi was very crispy, made the small bites more desirable to eat and the next….
Lobster Risotto with Mascarpone
One of my faves for the night….love the creaminess of the risotto and the lightness of the mascarpone cheese. It went really well together. The lobster was just an added bonus. My only criticism is that the risotto could have cooked a minute more to be more tender than it actually was.
Sweet Pea Stuffed Tortellini w/ guanciale, pecorino & mint
The tortellini was stuffed with sweet pea puree…so compared to the rest of the dishes, this was very light & hearty. The mint gives it that nice, soothing finish….Definitely another top dish, if you like subtly sweet & simple.
Traditional classic take of lamb ragu. NOT to be missed. From the fresh pasta to the rustic sauce and all that cheese… it’s a dish that you MAY just want to share with one other person…..or none at all…
Wood Oven Marinated Octopus w/ romesco, almonds
Smoky, charred goodness. Octopus was cooked perfectly for a easy knife through. I like the red peppers and the greens with the delicious nutty, spicy romesco sauce.
Soft Shell Crab (special)
Soft shell crab is probably one of the few fried dishes that I will admit willingly to eat. (I typically am anti-FRIED food). Crabs are delectable. I can spend a lot of time “shelling” out the meat without complaint. If that’s not true love, I don’t know what is. Soft shell crab typically makes eating crabs very convenient. This dish is no exception…. The batter was amazing… and it didn’t taste greasy. I mean, look at the damn thing. I suspect that the chef must’ve finished it in an oven… it just looks absolutely picture perfect….
Panna Cotta w/ chocolate, caramel & pretzel
Lastly, we finished with a panna cotta. Not impressed with dessert here…in fact, I can tell you that I make a better panna cotta…without all that junk. Panna cotta is best served chilled…. and this was a bit on the lukewarm side…
Would I come back? absofuckinglutely. Not so much for pizza… but nonetheless. This place is amazing, while retaining a casual and fun atmosphere. You did a damn good job Isabella…and I’ll leave it at that.