Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Prosecco on tap - awesome!!
So who’s heard of Mike Isabella?  How about Zaytinya?  Or Top Chef??  Well, if you aren’t aware, they are all connected.  Mike Isabella used to be the chef at Zaytinya, a great Greek/Mediterranean tapas restaurant in Penn Quarter.  From there he went on to be on Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars.  After all of that, he decided to open up a restaurant of his own….and that brings us to Graffiato.  Also a tapas place, this is Italian rather than Greek, and it’s really delicious – trust me on that as I feel like I sampled nearly half of what’s on the menu!  Here’s my take on what I tried:

Let’s start with the bread –
Some was sliced raisin bread, some was a simple focaccia and some was sweet, with corn and almost cake-like.  All was good, none was out of this world (hey - my mom can make some pretty kick-ass bread), but it was nice to have a few different kinds.  It came with olive oil jam (sort of solidified olive oil) as well as fresh ricotta.  Again, a nice touch rather than just serving butter.

On to the rest of the food –

Hand Cut Spaghetti – Something so simple, but yet had tons of flavor.

Risotto with Asparagus and Pesto – Why have I never thought to put pesto in risotto before?!?!  This was definitely one of my favorites...

Chicken Thighs with Pepperoni Sauce – He is famous for this pepperoni sauce so I had to try it.  The skin on the chicken was awesome…crispy, salty, yuuummy!  The sauce?  Well I thought there should be more of it for one, and second, it was definitely tasty, but maybe I’d just prefer it with something other than chicken.  Nonetheless, still worth trying.

Sweet Corn Agnolotti – Wow – try it.  ‘Nuf said. (Well, except that it already inspired me to concoct some of my own – post on that later.)

Sugar Snap Peas – The tomato pesto and goat cheese on them were a nice addition, and thankfully not overwhelming.  I love the fresh crunchy sweetness of snap peas and was glad that still came through.

White House Pizza – Really delicious blend of cheeses and a touch of sweetness from the honey.  I’m not usually a huge prosciutto fan (on the other hand, hold me back from Serrano!), but in this case it was the perfect complement to the cheeses.  I’ve had better crust, but I still went back for more than one slice.  J

Nutella Cookies – Salty + Sweet = Yum.  The chef’s wife makes these off site and brings them in every day so nobody will get her recipe.  Smart woman…though replicating them maybe become a personal challenge of mine!

Peach Gelato – this was the one thing we had that I likely wouldn’t repeat – it just lacked flavor.  Häagen-Dazs peach sorbet has this gelato beat by a long shot! 

And finally - I also had some of the "punch of the day" - a concoction with gin, citrus and a fresno pepper...really interesting flavor.

All in all, go try it.  There are still at least a few more things I want to try.  I know some people are getting “tired of the tapas thing”, but sometimes I prefer it.  I can be really indecisive and/or overwhelmed when so much on the menu sounds good – tapas allows you to taste it all.  Nice job Chef Isabella – I’ll definitely be back!!

I'm with the Chef!!