Chef Mike Isabella To Open Graffiato on June 23.

Everyone Wants To Be Like Mike, and it's not just because he saw Padma in a bikini.

Finally! This Thursday, June 23rd, Top Chef All-Stars Runner-Up (and local hero) Mike Isabella will open his first restaurant, Graffiato, an Italian-inspired restaurant in Chinatown (707 6th St., NW). Bar and dinner service will begin at 5:00 pm, seven days/week with lunch service to start up in a few weeks. Reservations are being taken online at Opentable.com or by phone 202-289-3600.

Foodies, Top Chef fans, Washingtonians, and especially local food bloggers (damn near everyone in my circle) have been eagerly anticipating the opening of Mike’s “no-frills two-story eatery”, composed of bricks, cinder blocks, wooden booths and teak composite counter tops. One of my fave DC hunks, Thrillist DC editor, Leo has an adorable video of him at Graffiato. Gotta love the macho schtick.

The design is a raw space reminiscent of the Italian bistros Chef Isabella grew up frequenting in New Jersey, yet the menu is anything but traditional Italian fare. Diners can expect artisanal pizzas, house-made seasonal vegetable dishes, locally procured meats and cheeses served at the “Ham Bar” and Italian-inspired small plates comprise the menu, which is sourced almost entirely from the East Coast. And yes … the infamous pepperoni sauce. People from coast to coast will probably come to try this sauce. In fact, I bet Mikey is counting on it.

Here’s a secret: You won’t find zeppoles on the menu; however, Chef Isabella will prepare 15 to 20 orders of the sweet fluffy dough balls each evening, and guests who know to ask about the zeppoles will be deliciously rewarded with warm treats dusted with strawberry powered sugar and served with balsamic chocolate dipping sauce.

Every Sunday, my grandmother used to make an Italian feast, eight to 10 dishes shared among a dozen or more family and neighbors – more than enough for everyone to taste each dish. With Graffiato, I wanted to recreate that experience by offering a large menu of small plates, personal pizzas, cured hams and local cheeses, said Mike Isabella, Chef/Owner of Graffiato. The format is patterned after those family meals, the flavors are Italian-inspired and the atmosphere is neighborhood casual. Grab a pizza and a beer late-night after watching a game, or order the Chef’s Tasting and allow me to entertain your palate for the evening.

In addition to his Italian eats, Graffiato will offera large local selection of wine, beer and spirits. Beers from DC Brau Brewing, Flying Dog Brewing and Port City Brewing represent The District, Maryland and Virginia. The mostly domestic wine list features selections from California, Idaho, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Virginia and Washington. Graffiato Red 1.0 is a Nebbiolo bottled by Breaux Vineyards in Purcellville, Va., exclusively for Graffiato. While the Montelvini Prosecco is made in Italy, it is also the only sparkling wine you can find on tap in Washington, D.C. The entire wine list, with more than 50 selections, is available by the glass and the bottle. I absolutely can’t wait to try it.

Congrats, Mike! I made reservations for next week … stay tuned for my review! ;)

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  1. Livin’ up to the hype: Mike Isabella’s Graffiato « Dining In Dc – Food and Restaurant Blog - July 8, 2011

    [...] being the Runner-Up on Top Chef Allstars spurred the excitement even more. Now that it’s open (as of June 23rd), Isabella said, “We’ve been packed every single night and have been staying open as [...]

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