Out last night for my husband’s birthday, we discovered one of our new favorite DC restaurants…Graffiato by Mike Isabella. I’d heard the hype over the last 10 months since they opened and tried to get reservations a few times last minute but no luck. As my husband loves Italian and not too fancy, I thought this would be a great spot for him. While I don’t often write up restaurants unless part of a trip, this one is definitely worth sharing for all locals and those traveling to DC!

Mike Isabella, Season Six Top Chef participant and runner-up on Top Chef All-Stars, is really coming on the DC scene. The 130-seat Italian-inspired spot serves small plates and artisanal pizzas inspired by the food Mike grew up eating in New Jersey prepared by his Italian-American grandmother. Seasonal and local are big here from the produce to locally cured meats to the wine and beer.

As a wine writer, I’ll start there. Fabulous wine list…my perfect combination of Italian + Virginia + Oregon. I loved every wine I tasted…

  • Montelvini Prosecco, Italy: served from their tap in the bar, it’s a fruity sparkling aperitif
  • Shindig Organic Pinot Grigio Rosé, Oregon: what fun!! Tasted just like the name… combination of Pinot Grigio + Rosé. Must find this wine for summer sipping!
  • Graffiato Red 1.0 Nebbiolo, Virginia: This wine is delicious and locally made by Breaux Vineyards, a really great winery in Purcellville! Mike worked with them to create this house wine. It’s a perfect combination of cedar, red fruit and caramel in aroma and taste!
  • Breaux Vineyards 2010 Nebbiolo Ice, Virginia: Rosé scents, nice sweet treat (not overly syrupy sweet) and perfect pairing with our Zeppoles.

We ate GOOD! I love Italian small plates…you can try more things!!

  • Flatbread with pepperoni sauce: WOW! Tastes like ground up pepperoni!
  • Broccolini with spicy pepper relish, walnut and feta: crisp and delish
  • Roasted Cauliflower with pecorino and mint: red onions gave it a perfect zip
  • Asparagus with pancetta and egg: great spin on one of our favorite Dutch dishes
  • Sweet Pea Tortellini with guanciale, pecorino and mint: a taste of spring
  • Hand Cut Spaghetti with olive oil poached cherry tomatoes and basil: loved the cherry tomato prep
  • Crispy Potato Gnocchi with wild mushrooms, favas and stracciatella: favorite pasta, so different
  • Zeppoles with orange zest and strawberry sugar dusting: yummy little fruity pebble popovers
It was a perfect evening… food, drinks, coffee, ambiance… and Kevin, our server, was so nice, knowledgable and attentive. Definitely ask for him!

Graffiatio has a convenient two-story spot downtown next to the Verizon Center in Chinatown. They also have a 15-seat bar you can stop into for drinks and a bite if you can’t get in for dinner but it’s worth the planning ahead!

Cheers to Mike on a fabulous Italian-inspired and locally supportive restaurant! Look forward to checking out his upcoming Mexican spot in Georgetown.