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Graffiato, Modern Italian Small Plates In Chinatown and Now Open in Richmond

Local Chain Chinatown Richmond Modern Italian Small Plates Pizza

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#1 fuzzy510

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 11:09 AM

Details from the Washington Post here.

Personally, I'm a little disappointed to hear that it's going to be, in part, ANOTHER pizza place; I realize that's not the entire focus of the place, but I don't think we're exactly lacking for good pizza places in DC.



#2 Sthitch

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 11:19 AM

but I don't think we're exactly lacking for good pizza places in DC.

I would say that most of DC is fairly lacking in good pizza and casual Italian, and Penn Quarter/Chinatown area specifically. The only decent pizza I can think of in that area is Matchbox, and I am sure that these will be a completely different style.

#3 csirwillis

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 06:18 PM

I would say that most of DC is fairly lacking in good pizza and casual Italian, and Penn Quarter/Chinatown area specifically. The only decent pizza I can think of in that area is Matchbox, and I am sure that these will be a completely different style.

I wish DC law would allow someone to open a Coal Oven Pizza Place..
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#4 Michael Landrum

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 10:53 PM

I have to say, that from the descriptions and pictures in this piece, I am really looking forward to this place opening.

Knowing what I do about the construction heart-aches and heart-breaks of a restaurant opening, I really have to applaud Mr. Isabella for the hardships and perseverance he has endured (not to mention the financial penuries no one outside the business can imagine).

Even more so, knowing the easy opportunities his status surely must have readily afforded him in NY, Vegas, AC or LA, I think that it is absolutely wonderful that he chose to make DC his home despite all that.

From what I see, here is a man building something to last, of real value, and of real meaning, to honor his heritage and vision, in a place he hopes to claim as home, and taking risks along the way that he didn't need to.

This is a restaurant that, if done well, I will gladly visit again and again. Here's hoping it will be so.

And his performance the second time around on All-Stars, rather than counting against him, did much to show a chef of real heart and courage, and hard-earned humility.

#5 DaRiv18

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 09:54 AM

I briefly met Mr. Isabella and his team at his ANC Alcohol Licensing Committee hearing, and the concept looks great. He's going to bring some energy to that part of 6th Street, which desperately needs it. The most exciting part of it will be its open kitchen well into the AM, the New Big Wong has a stranglehold on that market right now.

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#6 DonRocks

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 09:58 AM

The most exciting part of it will be its open kitchen well into the AM

I don't want to be cynical about this, but lots of new places think they'll remain open late-night; in many instances, reality sets in after just a few months - I hope Graffiato can be one that stays the course. Late-night dining is an obvious "next step" in the Big-Cityfication of Little Washington.

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#7 csirwillis

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Posted 27 May 2011 - 11:51 AM

I don't want to be cynical about this, but lots of new places think they'll remain open late-night; in many instances, reality sets in after just a few months - I hope Graffiato can be one that stays the course. Late-night dining is an obvious "next step" in the Big-Cityfication of Little Washington.

Cheers,
Rocks

The best pizza joint that stays open until the am is BOP pizza in fells point, after hitting all the bars its a great place to soak up the alcohol, but I still have never tried it sober... B)

I hope it works out in the late night cause there are tons of people out and about but its mostly club and bar hoppers..
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#8 ChiantiandFava

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 11:11 AM

Tim Carman of the Washington Post reports that Graffiato will open on Thursday at 5pm. Regular menu, specials/desserts menu, and beverage menu.

King crab legs with uni and guanciale, ehh?

Perpetually reverse-commuting.


#9 sheldman

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 12:56 PM

Funny to realize that this is in the old Wilson-Epes Printing Co. building - a landmark for people of my age and older who ever had a Supreme Court brief printed, with great old metal type printing. I will go sit at the bar and have a drink and pretend that I am reading proofs straight from the press.

#10 sphere777

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 03:10 PM

The pizzas look great and I look forward to Chef Isabella's food.

#11 kirite

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 05:52 PM

The pizzas look great and I look forward to Chef Isabella's food.

OK, so I'm not Italian, but I am from Jersey and know a bit about Jersey-Italian food. Menu looks great and have made reservations for mid-July.

#12 Jacquers

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Posted 21 June 2011 - 05:32 PM

I'm definitely excited about trying Isabella's food. The menu looks great, but is it me or do the wine markups seem on the higher end?

#13 New Foodie

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 06:39 AM

Just made July reservations as well. I really want to try that pepperoni sauce made famous on Top Chef...but those pizzas and pastas sound good as well. Definitely intrigued by the Pizzaiolo's Choice. Also curious about the prosecco on draft.

-Jenny

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#14 B.A.R.

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 08:53 AM

Also curious about the prosecco on draft.

The great wine bar Terroir in Manhattan has been serving riesling on draft for the last year or so. Did not know Prosecco was available, but I can't wait to try.

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#15 qwertyy

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Posted 22 June 2011 - 06:06 PM

Also curious about the prosecco on draft.

Click for a thread on kegged wine.

#16 Chris Cunningham

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 04:17 PM

Graffiato opened Thursday night....I'm floored that no one here hasn't written one word about it yet B) :D :)
Seriously...have aliens invaded :D

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#17 kirite

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 08:52 PM

Graffiato opened Thursday night....I'm floored that no one here hasn't written one word about it yet B) :D :)
Seriously...have aliens invaded :D

It is curious. Right after Palena Cafe, Medium Rare, Fiola and Freddy's opened, there were lots of reviews. I'm looking forward to going to Graffiato in mid-July.

#18 DPop

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 09:14 PM

For me at least, happyguy, I tend to stay away from places like this (big hype restaurants) for at least the first couple weeks they're open. Always overly packed, service issues, etc. My wife and I poked our heads in before a movie tonight at around 6:30 and it was a zoo. I tried to talk to the hostess but she looked like she was in a daze so we just walked out and hoped to be back around mid-July or so.

#19 Marty L.

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Posted 27 June 2011 - 03:41 PM

It is curious. Right after Palena Cafe, Medium Rare, Fiola and Freddy's opened, there were lots of reviews. I'm looking forward to going to Graffiato in mid-July.

My very quick take, copied from Chowhound:

Had a great meal there last night (Friday). Best items were the bone marrow, the escarole/guanciale/potato salad, the onion side, the scallop crudo, and the shrimp.

Two caveats:

1. Adds up fast. Although each dish averages $10 or so, most of the protein-based items aren't large. I imagine making a pizza or two (which we didn't get) the centerpiece of a meal would lower the overall cost.

2. In no time, it will be *impossible* to get in -- especially on nights when there's any event at the Verizon Center.

#20 WWZ

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 08:45 AM

Just saw this from last week's Food Section chat - Edan MacQuaid working at Graffiato.

#21 Mark Dedrick

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 10:14 AM

My wife and I were fans both of Zaytinya and of Top Chef, so as a result we were both very excited to secure a reservation last night to Graffiato. First of all, the restaurant looks very nice, and is actually a bit smaller than I was imagining from the photographs I had seen online prior to opening. We were seated upstairs, which is unfortunately away from the action around the wood oven, but was nonetheless very pleasant.

The menu is all small plates, with the exception of the pizzas, and they recommend about four per person. I'd say that's probably on the high side, and many folks could get away with three very comfortably.

Because we were having trouble figuring out things on the menu that we did not want to order, and to take the decision-making out of our hands, we went with the chef's selection option, which is $45 per person. I would recommend against doing this. While we liked our meal very much, everything on the tasting was on the regular menu, and it isn't as if you get some sort of deal by getting the tasting. It was a good meal, and a good lesson about how their menu operates.

We started with a selection of two American hams and a prosciutto from Italy. The standout of the group was the Benton's smoked country ham, which was outstanding.

At about the same time, the Honey Glazed Cippolini Onions came out. The onions were cooked sous vide with garlic and peppers and topped with onion seeds. This dish was definitely good, but not really a standout. It wasn't something that was jumping off the menu at us when we were initially looking it over, and isn't something that we'd necessarily order again.

At that point, out came the Escarole Salad, which was warm escarole, baby purple potatoes, guanicale, and a sunny side up egg. It was outstanding. Both my wife and I are a sucker for pretty much any dish that comes with a runny egg on top, and we loved this salad. Only quibble was that the chunks of guanicale could have been a bit larger as they occasionally got lost in the mix, but we would happily order and devour this again.

Our next dish was the Sweet Corn Agnolotti, served with chanterelle mushrooms. Again, we were really pleased with this dish. The pasta was cooked perfectly, and each bite exploded with the taste of fresh sweet corn. An excellent dish.

We next got the Jersey Shore Pizza, with fried calamari, provolone and a pepper aioli. This was two firsts for us, the first time we had pizza as part of a tasting menu, and the first time we'd had calamari on a pizza. We liked, but didn't love this dish. The calamari was cooked very well, and the pepper aioli added some nice heat to the dish. I think the pizza crust could have been a bit more charred, but on the whole it was a good pie. I'll definitely give one of the other pizzas a shot at some point on a return visit.

Next came our two dishes from the wood oven, Octopus, with chickpeas and artichokes and Pork Ribs, with a coriander yogurt sauce. The octopus was by far the better of these two; it was cooked perfectly and was absolutely delicious. The ribs were tender and flavorful, but were a bit dry, although that was rectified a bit by either the yogurt sauce, or by including one of the small orange segments with a bite of pork.

To finish, we had the Pistachio Gelato with Nutella Cookies. Both were very good, I really enjoyed the Nutella cookies, in part because of the salt on the outside.

Service throughout was very good. We went in expecting a bit of a disaster, as the place was absolutely packed, and had only been open for four days. Instead we found very professional service throughout, and were quite impressed. There were a couple of times that plates came out when our waiter wasn't ready to describe them, which he was very apologetic about, but which didn't bother us at all. He was knowledgeable, friendly and attentive, and the service didn't have the feel of a place that had just opened.

We will be back, we won't order the tasting again, we will order the sweet corn agnolotti and the escarole salad, and we're looking forward to working through other parts of the menu. A good addition to the neighborhood.


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#22 sandynva

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Posted 05 July 2011 - 08:28 AM

We had a lovely dinner at Graffiato yesterday. service was great and the dishes were well paced. as people have noted, it's all small plates.

We started with the fennel and the beets. the fennel was tasty--shaved fennel with a few small pieces of peach tossed with hazelnuts. the hazelnuts were nicely toasted and went well with the fennel, and though i was a bit dissapointed by the amount of peach (we had about 4 quarter-sized bits in the whole dish) it was a nice dish that i'd get again. the spiced beets with oranges and pork fried almonds were pleasant, but more ordinary. to be fair, as i'm vegetarian, i had it without the almonds, so maybe they added a lot, but my companion (who had the almonds) didn't seem bowled over either.

after watching top chef, i was really curious about the gnocchi, which unfortunately for me comes with a pork ragu. they were kind enough to do a vegetarian version and it was delicious--served on broccoli puree with pearl onions, green chickpeas, fava beans, parmesan, mint and possibly tarragon. the combination of flavors was wonderful and the texture of the gnocchi was just perfect.i'm still thinking about them. it was really kind of them to do this and we both thought it was the best dish of the evening. the sweet corn agnolotti was good the filling is delicous--luscious, sweet corn essence--but imho, there wasn't enough of it so it was a bit overwhelmed by the pasta. these weren't plump half moons, they were sort of like deflated ravioli. they were quite good, but had they had more filling, they'd have been great. the spaghetti with olive-oil poached tomatoes is delicious. the pasta is deliciously chewy and the sauce tastes purely of tomato. a simple dish but done really well, i could've happily eaten a big bowl of this.

we finished with the chocolate tart with sea salt gelato. it was nice, a very rich cool chocolate tart with a little scoop of white salt-flavored gelato. now, i love salt--my companion ordered the dish specifcally because i love salt so much--but i found the gelato too salty, and it tasted purely of salt with no other cream or dairy notes.
but overall, it was a really enjoyable dinner, the gnocchi and spaghetti were really delicious and the service great as well.

#23 darkstar965

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 06:03 PM

Has anyone done lunch here yet? Is it only pizza? Good, bad and ugly? Many thanks.

#24 Banco

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 03:18 PM

Has anyone done lunch here yet? Is it only pizza? Good, bad and ugly? Many thanks.

I just returned from lunch there a couple hours ago. They are only doing pizza for lunch now while the crew gets its legs, then the rest of the menu opens up at 5:00. But in talking with whom I believe was Mr. Isabella himself I learned that they have been slammed during the dinner hours practically since they opened. Downstairs is open seating but upstairs is reservations only. The pizza I had today, the "classic," was very good for its type: a concentrated sauce of melted cherry tomatoes, garlic, and Sicilian oregano, which I ordered with added prosciutto. I don't know about Jersey/NY/New Haven pizza, just what I've had in decent places in Italy, and that for me is the standard. This was not Italian pizza, but it was good. The crust was savory and foldable, but also thin and with just enough tooth to make it interesting. And the tomato sauce, really a jam, was excellent. No cheese of any kind. At $14 plus $3 for the prosciutto, overpriced for what it was, but given the location I think they won't have any trouble maintaining that price point. When I saw the gnocchi and other pasta being prepared for dinner service I thought of coming back tonight for dinner. The wine list is interesting and diverse. I had an $11 Dolcetto which was a good exemplar of this wine, a rarity in my experience.

#25 darkstar965

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 05:15 PM

I just returned from lunch there a couple hours ago. They are only doing pizza for lunch now while the crew gets its legs, then the rest of the menu opens up at 5:00. But in talking with whom I believe was Mr. Isabella himself I learned that they have been slammed during the dinner hours practically since they opened. Downstairs is open seating but upstairs is reservations only. The pizza I had today, the "classic," was very good for its type: a concentrated sauce of melted cherry tomatoes, garlic, and Sicilian oregano, which I ordered with added prosciutto. I don't know about Jersey/NY/New Haven pizza, just what I've had in decent places in Italy, and that for me is the standard. This was not Italian pizza, but it was good. The crust was savory and foldable, but also thin and with just enough tooth to make it interesting. And the tomato sauce, really a jam, was excellent. No cheese of any kind. At $14 plus $3 for the prosciutto, overpriced for what it was, but given the location I think they won't have any trouble maintaining that price point. When I saw the gnocchi and other pasta being prepared for dinner service I thought of coming back tonight for dinner. The wine list is interesting and diverse. I had an $11 Dolcetto which was a good exemplar of this wine, a rarity in my experience.

Many thanks--great perspective. Have also heard, on the board here and beyond, mixed reviews about Graffiato with some loving it and others feeling it over-hyped, over-priced. In cases like that where prices are high, I usually try it first for lunch so, if hugely disappointing, I'm out less than if 4 or 6 of us go for dinner and then feel like idiots for doing so. So, will wait until Graffiato's full lunch is underway before I try it since tough to get a table there for dinner anyway.

In other higher-priced Italian news, I finally got around to applying this same lunch-first practice at Fiola today with very good results. Will post on that separately on the Fiola thread.

Thanks again, Banco. Much appreciated!

#26 Lori Gardner

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Posted 15 July 2011 - 10:42 PM

Many thanks--great perspective. Have also heard, on the board here and beyond, mixed reviews about Graffiato with some loving it and others feeling it over-hyped, over-priced. In cases like that where prices are high, I usually try it first for lunch so, if hugely disappointing, I'm out less than if 4 or 6 of us go for dinner and then feel like idiots for doing so. So, will wait until Graffiato's full lunch is underway before I try it since tough to get a table there for dinner anyway.

In other higher-priced Italian news, I finally got around to applying this same lunch-first practice at Fiola today with very good results. Will post on that separately on the Fiola thread.

Thanks again, Banco. Much appreciated!

I've been to Graffiato twice for dinner, and maybe I've got a warped perspective after some high-end dining lately, but I don't find it overpriced. Small plates are around $10 pizzas around $18. I've paid that for pizza in many other places around town, and it hasn't been nearly as good. I don't think you will be hugely disappointed - far from it. The first time we went as a walk in on a Friday evening. We got in after 15 minutes. It's certainly a bustling place but not impossible to get in. But that may be changing as the buzz is growing.

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#27 Tweaked

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Posted 18 July 2011 - 10:18 AM

Overall everything at Graffiato Friday night was decent to good...but nothing crossed over from good to great. For a restaurant that has been open for roughly 3 weeks and by all reports slammed since day one, I thought the restaurant was handling everything very well on a busy Friday night. With all the hype this place has received I thought it was a solid opening salvo but with plenty of room for improvement.

Graffiato checks off many boxes of early-21st Century urban restuarant design. Open kitchen area, exposed ductwork, lots of hard surfaces, a cheese and cured meat selection, a beer list that skews micro but throws in some ironically hip crap macros (this time in pony form), and a menu pricepoint that reads reasonable but adds up quickly.

The food has some highs and lows.

The blistered sweet peppers with smoked paprika and capers were darn tasty. Throw this in a hoagy roll with some good italian sausage and you would be on to something!
We also enjoyed the honey glazed cippolini onions.
The wood roasted mushrooms with cherry peppers and mustard were not very interesting.
The sweet corn agnolotti were good, although they need something to cut through the sugar...it was sweeter than our dessert.
Polenta with spicy meatballs and runny egg was downright bland...the meatballs were somewhat dry and flavorless...I'm guessing they would not pass muster in the Italian-American neighborhoods of New Jersey. A little tweaking and this could be a very good dish.
The Market Pizza (roasted squash, goat cheese, tomato, blossoms) was fine flavorwise, but the crust was disappointing. The outer ring of the crust was nicely charred, the underside flabby.
Chocolate tart, olive oil, sea salt gelato was fine.

Dinner for two rang in around $90 with tax...we probably could have skipped a dish or two and walked out sated instead of stuffed, but we wanted to sample as much of the menu as possible!
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#28 New Foodie

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 08:27 AM

Headed to Graffiato last night with some girlfriends and overall the food was pretty good. I think we all stopped just short of "amazing," but definitely good enough I'll be back (hopefully soon). No Mike Isabella sighting on this trip, but we were only a few tables away from Senator Mark Warner.

Our server was nice, but was pretty slow. We had to wait a while to order and to get our check. Our server was also sort of soft-spoken, and with the restaurant as loud as it was, it was hard to hear him a lot of times (e.g. I had to translate his listing of the gelato flavors to the rest of our table since he was standing closest to me when he said them).

We started out with the Breads ($5 polenta bread, focaccia & raisin bread, olive oil jam & fresh ricotta), and although I am typically anti-paying for bread, this one I think is worth it. The focaccia was light and not too oily, but went really well with both spreads. The raisin bread had some nuts as well, and while good, was probably my least favorite of the three. The polenta bread was great and really interesting. With whole corn kernels it almost reminded me of a really moist cornbread. I'm not a huge ricotta fan, so that was fine, but the olive oil jam was amazing. Such an interesting texture and all the right olive oil and salty flavors. I was even slathering it on my pizza crust later!

The four of us decided to share a bunch of stuff so we could try a lot of things on the menu. We started with the Sweet & Sour Eggplant ($7golden raisins, pine nuts) and Marinated Snap Peas ($6 tomato pesto, goat cheese). While both were very good, I think our next three dishes were infinitely better. The eggplant had quite a bit more squash intermixed than I was expecting, especially considering it's not listed on the menu, but had a good flavor to it. The peas were crisp and fresh, and the pesto and cheese, along with some sesame seeds on top, made it a very refreshing summer dish.

Our favorite three dishes of the night were Octopus ($12 chickpeas, artichokes) from the wood oven, Roasted Potato Gnocchi ($12 braised pork shank, burrata), and Sweet Corn Agnolotti ($11 chanterelles, pine nuts). The octopus had a nice char, without being too chewy, and the chickpeas were almost more of a hummus on the plate. The gnocchi were soft and pillowy, and served with quite a bit of the braised pork (almost BBQ like in taste and texture). I could've used a bit more burrata and possibly something crunchy to contrast the soft texture of the gnocchi, cheese and pork, but these are just little nits I'm picking because overall it was quite good. However, the agnolotti may have been the favorite of the night. I didn't find it overly sweet, but I only had 1/4 of the dish, so I could see how it may be too much if you had the dish all to yourself. It was just a great taste of summer on a plate.

We decided to roll the dice and choose the Trust Your Pizzaiolo (chef’s choice) pizza, which ended up being ricotta, figs and arugula. It wasn't bad, but I think some of the other pizzas on the menu would be more appealing to me in the future. They definitely have a nice char, and as I mentioned before, the crust was pretty great with some of that olive oil jam on top.

Despite being quite full, we had to try the desserts, so we ended up with Nutella Cookies ($5 chocolate, hazelnut, sea salt) and the off-menu Strawberry Zeppoles. When the cookies came out we were disappointed to see only 3 on the plate (there were 4 of us at the table), and it would have been nice if the server had mentioned that when we ordered. Thankfully he was very accommodating and brought out a fourth cookie when we asked, so that we could each have our own. These were rich without being overly so and a great little chocolate taste with the hazelnut flavor coming through in the end. The sea salt on top added a good contrast as well. I'm not sure whether I preferred the cookies or the zeppoles, because both were pretty fantastic. The zeppole order was 8 little fried dough balls coated in strawberry powdered sugar. They were piping hot and soft on the inside and definitely a unique dessert (I'm not sure I've had strawberry powdered sugar before).

The food ended up only being $23 each and we left quite full. A couple of us had wine and the draft prosecco, which increased the bill a bit, but overall we left feeling very satisfied with both the food and the price. I'm looking forward to returning soon.

-Jenny

"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie. ~Jim Davis, Garfield"


#29 Marty L.

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 10:34 AM

Not quite sure why he doesn't link to his own reviews here as a matter of course (they've been of great value to me lately at, e.g., Bistro Lazeez and Salt & Pepper), but Don's take on Graffiato is well worth reading, not least because of its "best of times; worst of times" account:

http://reviews.dcdin...iato-chinatown/

Headed to Graffiato last night with some girlfriends and overall the food was pretty good. I think we all stopped just short of "amazing," but definitely good enough I'll be back (hopefully soon). No Mike Isabella sighting on this trip, but we were only a few tables away from Senator Mark Warner.



#30 DonRocks

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 10:51 AM

Not quite sure why he doesn't link to his own reviews here as a matter of course (they've been of great value to me lately at, e.g., Bistro Lazeez and Salt & Pepper), but Don's take on Graffiato is well worth reading, not least because of its "best of times; worst of times" account:

http://reviews.dcdin...iato-chinatown/

[Thanks Marty. Honestly, I'm just trying not to be a whore - I figure if people want to read my stuff, they know where to find it (and they don't want it constantly thrown in their face - this is also why I don't bombard people on Facebook).]

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#31 sandynva

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 03:28 PM

[Thanks Marty. Honestly, I'm just trying not to be a whore - I figure if people want to read my stuff, they know where to find it (and they don't want it constantly thrown in their face - this is also why I don't bombard people on Facebook).]

Don-in your review you wrote that you'd love a larger version of the spaghetti with oil poached tomatoes. i am soooo with you on this one!

#32 Marty L.

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 03:44 PM

[Thanks Marty. Honestly, I'm just trying not to be a whore.

Not sure the, uh, metaphor, quite fits. But in any case, I don't think any of us would begrudge you if you simply flagged links to your DCD reviews in the relevant threads here -- and I'm fairly confident it would make the discussions in those threads even richer, and that we'd all be grateful. I, for one, welcome efficiency in my gastro-surfing.

#33 Rhone1998

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Posted 22 July 2011 - 07:11 PM

Not sure the, uh, metaphor, quite fits. But in any case, I don't think any of us would begrudge you if you simply flagged links to your DCD reviews in the relevant threads here -- and I'm fairly confident it would make the discussions in those threads even richer, and that we'd all be grateful. I, for one, welcome efficiency in my gastro-surfing.

Seconded!

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#34 BZB

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 06:30 AM

Just ate at the upstairs food bar and had the best time. Even if the restaurant is booked, you can ask about these seats and get in if available. We sat next to a single person and all enjoyed, shared our wonderful dinner! What a treat. So glad they are open.

#35 ad.mich

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 08:35 PM

the drink my friend got ($1 less than the craft cocktail) was in a glass so small that it made us laugh: it looked like someone took a standard pint beer glass, and cut off the top with a machete, and just used the top part for the drink.

Yes. A thousand times yes. We too were laughing about this, wondering if they were going to put the rest of the cocktail in a metal shaker for a refill like a milkshake. For better or worse, it's not like other places in DC (and Penn Quarter in particular) are afraid of a $15 cocktail. I'd much rather cough up more money than pay that cost for what felt like (and looked like) half a drink. A few weeks later I wouldn't remember the cost of drinks in particular, as everything there is pricy. I definitely remember those goofy ass glasses.

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#36 DPop

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 12:57 PM

The Pepperoni Sauce; what am I missing? Is it more than tomato sauce with some pepperoni cooked/mixed in? How did this almost win him Top Chef?

:mellow:

#37 synaesthesia

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 02:40 PM

Yes. A thousand times yes. We too were laughing about this, wondering if they were going to put the rest of the cocktail in a metal shaker for a refill like a milkshake. For better or worse, it's not like other places in DC (and Penn Quarter in particular) are afraid of a $15 cocktail. I'd much rather cough up more money than pay that cost for what felt like (and looked like) half a drink. A few weeks later I wouldn't remember the cost of drinks in particular, as everything there is pricy. I definitely remember those goofy ass glasses.

Was this the Basil Hayden drink? Pic here: http://www.flickr.co...sia/5918145973/

From what other people have told me, this is volume-wise pretty close to what a Sazerac served at another well regarded bar. The key is presentation - they really need different glassware.
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#38 ad.mich

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 02:50 PM

Was this the Basil Hayden drink? Pic here: http://www.flickr.co...sia/5918145973/
From what other people have told me, this is volume-wise pretty close to what a Sazerac served at another well regarded bar. The key is presentation - they really need different glassware.

4 of us ordered a round of cocktails while waiting for our table. No one got the BH drink in particular but they were all served in the glass you linked to.

I agree with both your points though. It's probably close (but slightly less) in volume to a regular glass, and they should really ditch them and get new glassware asap. I've joked about it with everyone I know who has gone there, and every person I've talked about it with was similarly weirded out by them. It takes a little extra to be put off by glassware, you know?

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#39 DavidO

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 07:08 PM

My experience was close to Tweaked's-- I thought everything was good, but the only thing that was great was the countryman's pizza-- black truffles, fontina, and a poached duck egg. The sweet corn agnolotti was very sweet-- for a minute it brought me back to the creamed corn my mom used to serve growing up. The gnocchi were good, but I think I might have liked the veggie accompaniment they offered Sandynva better than the pork. I would have liked to have the option to get some bread for sauces without having to pay $5 for a bread/spread selection. I thought service was efficient but not very gracious (except for the bartender). The price on the chef's choice menu seems to be gradually escalating-- I heard from friends it started around $35 or $40 and I think it's now at $55 (seems unlikely to make sense at that price).

#40 DonRocks

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Posted 27 July 2011 - 11:16 AM

Yes. A thousand times yes. We too were laughing about this, wondering if they were going to put the rest of the cocktail in a metal shaker for a refill like a milkshake. For better or worse, it's not like other places in DC (and Penn Quarter in particular) are afraid of a $15 cocktail. I'd much rather cough up more money than pay that cost for what felt like (and looked like) half a drink. A few weeks later I wouldn't remember the cost of drinks in particular, as everything there is pricy. I definitely remember those goofy ass glasses.

Was this the Basil Hayden drink? Pic here: http://www.flickr.co...sia/5918145973/

From what other people have told me, this is volume-wise pretty close to what a Sazerac served at another well regarded bar. The key is presentation - they really need different glassware.

4 of us ordered a round of cocktails while waiting for our table. No one got the BH drink in particular but they were all served in the glass you linked to.

I agree with both your points though. It's probably close (but slightly less) in volume to a regular glass, and they should really ditch them and get new glassware asap. I've joked about it with everyone I know who has gone there, and every person I've talked about it with was similarly weirded out by them. It takes a little extra to be put off by glassware, you know?

And on tap it's probably a 10 oz pour. That place really makes me wish there was a law requiring places to tell people if a draft beer if going to be less than 12 oz. Not sure why it bugs me so much (I didn't mind the small cocktail glasses at Graffiato that has everyone else bothered) but it does.

Just to clarify, the only cocktail I've ordered in that glass was a straight gin and tonic. It was filled to the brim with ice cubes, and had such a small amount of gin and tonic in it, that two of them were sucked down in minutes by a very small person. Catching a buzz off these G&Ts would have cost $40. For a specialty drink, especially one without ice? No problem with these glasses.

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#41 Uperenat

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 05:30 PM

Had the Jersey Shore and octopus last Friday at the bar for lunch and the White House and sweet corn agnolotti today. No problem at all finishing the pasta. Didn't find it cloying at all. Don't understand the meh reviews on the Jersey Shore. But MacQuaid made the Jersey Shore last week. Didn't see him today. Is he still working here?

#42 Pat

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Posted 30 July 2011 - 08:12 AM

When I dine out I nearly always bring home leftovers, even when it seems that I haven't ordered that much food. I write things along the lines of: "I only had a few bites of this because I was already full." This was not a problem for me at Graffiato. After we had eaten the four plates and one pizza that we ordered, the server asked if we would like dessert. "No, I want to order more food."

Everything we ordered was good--better than good--but it was hard to believe it was $62 worth of food. The ingredients seemed top notch, which has something to do with how wonderful the dishes were, but the prices per portion size will make this a special occasion kind of place for us.

My husband loves Caesar salad, orders it often, and is often disappointed. He wanted to order it last night. I knew that Caesar Salad cream cheese croutons ($8) wouldn't be a classic preparation, but it was a solid version of the salad and actually a bit more traditional than I was expecting. It had nice kick of anchovy, and the warm cream cheese-filled croutons were a delightful surprise, one of my favorite bites of the night. (My husband thought the salad was okay but didn't like it as much as I did. laugh.gif )

We ordered Marinated Snap Peas tomato pesto, goat cheese ($6) because they had come recommended. My husband liked these more than I did. While I enjoyed them (and actually liked the tomato pesto more than I thought I would), this was probably my least favorite item. There was nothing wrong with it. I just liked everything else more.

I wanted to try the Chicken Thighs pepperoni sauce ($10) despite knowing from Don's review that the portion would be very small. The combination intrigued me. I never saw Mike Isabella when he was on Top Chef, but pepperoni sauce...why not? I could definitely taste the pepperoni, and the sauce was a nice foil for a crisp piece of chicken thigh. Among a meal of tiny portions, this was a seriously tiny portion.

The filling in the Sweet Corn Agnolotti chanterelles, pine nuts ($11) made me happy. It tasted like freshly made creamed corn wrapped in pasta. We haven't eaten much corn this summer, and this little burst of it made me crave more. It seemed typical of the shocks of flavor throughout the dishes on the menu, often coming from unexpected places.

By the time our pizza, the White House mozzarella, taleggio, ricotta, prosciutto, black pepper honey ($17), arrived I was very hungry. Having small bites of several things had my stomach primed for more food. I thought the pizza was delicious, but I was not paying the closest attention to detail at this point; I wanted food. My husband thought the honey was too strong and/or prominent, but I loved it. It's not something I would expect on a pizza and I thought it worked.

When we were first ordering, we had asked the server if we could order additional items later if we wanted, and he told us we could but we should expect anything extra to take 20 minutes to arrive. Well, we finished all of the food we ordered and wanted more. He brought back menus and we made our selection. The restaurant was packed and I remembered the twenty minute estimate and immediately got hungrier. Fortunately, though, our Polenta spicy pork meatballs, soft egg ($10) did not take that long to arrive. This was also my favorite dish of the night. The meatballs hit just the right spot on the spiciness spectrum, and the polenta and egg really finished the plate off beautifully.

Despite Don's disapproval of the draft prosecco ($7), I ordered it. I thought it was a little too sweet but it made the meal seem more festive somehow. It just worked with the environment and type of food. I'm not sure if the first glass I got was overfilled or the second one was underfilled, but the second glass was a significantly smaller pour than the first. I didn't want much more at that point anyway, so it was no big deal. My husband seemed satisfied with his draft DC Brau Pale Ale (also $7).

I thought the water service was a little odd. They refilled our glasses several times, and sometimes the water was unpleasantly warm and at others cooler but not actually cold.

Our server was attentive and knowledgeable about the menu. Service overall was quite efficient, especially given that they had a packed house on a Friday night.
I was pleased that it was not too loud where we were sitting upstairs. The din downstairs when we arrived made me a bit concerned that we weren't even going to be have a conversation, but it was not bad upstairs. While we were probably not the oldest people there, our presence skewed the age demographic considerably dry.gif.



#43 Adam23

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Posted 31 July 2011 - 08:57 PM

Checked out Graffiato on Friday night. I'm rather undecided on the place and won't be rushing back. It seems fake and I don't think it is particularly a good value.

Demographic: Clearly this restaurant targets the late-20s/mid-30s lawyer demographic. There wasn't a sole in the place over 40, except for a few tables of early 20s persons with their parents. If you aren't young and bringing your parents out for a "nice" meal while they are in town or if you aren't a mid-30s lawyer/yuppie type, you will likely feel very out of place here.

The space: I liked the space. Industrial and clean, but very loud. The first floor was extremely loud - I don't think I could have had a meal down there. It was deafening. Upstairs was loud but a little quieter than the first floor.

Service: Service was fine. The server was friendly and pleasant. He told us the story of Graffiato and explained all of their "world famous" dishes. I thought to myself - wow - only open a month or so and already world famous. There were a lot of employees running around the room. It seems liked they had more staff than they should have. My water was filled often and they have free filtered water. I did have a similar experience of getting some cold fill-ups and some warm of the water as others have mentioned. We also didn't get silverware until we asked for it which was odd.

Drinks: The wine list looked pretty nice to me. A good selection of various makes - bit heavy on Oregon. Lots of interesting producers, but the prices are sky-high. On average, 3x markup which seems a bit ridiculous - Brickhouse Chardonnay, one of my favorites, for $90 a bottle (I buy it for $20) (or a two-glass minimum at $24 a pop). I ended up ordering a glass of DC Brau. My wife ordered a "Saged and Confused". The DC Brau was good, but the size was a little small. I'm not sure how big it was, but definitely less than a pint. The Saged and Confused was served in the tiny-looking bar glasses as other have mentioned. They are rather hilarious - remind me of having tea time with a child. I'm not sure how big the portion is, but it looks tiny and makes the drink prices seem even more of a rip-off. I tasted the Saged and Confused and didn't like it at all. It had a heavy cucumber taste that overpowered everything else in the drink. My wife said it "grew on her" as she drank it.

Food: We ordered all over the menu, as recommended, so we could share in Mikes heritage and upbringing (so our server told us). We started with the bread basket which was a raisin bread, foccacia and a polenta bread. It was served with ricotta and "olive oil jam" which was basically solid olive oil. We both didn't like the olive oil jam but thought the ricotta was good. The polenta bread and raisin bread were both very good. The foccacia was dry. We were also served some roasted spiced pistachios as an amuse. They were tasty.

We next ordered the Spiced Red Beets and the Fresh Fennel. The red beets were good - second best dish of the night - matchsticks of beets with a splash of spice (I think cumin) and some almonds. Very nice. The fennel was not very good. It was fennel sliced thin with some small pieces of fruit. The fennel was salted extremely heavy, which ruined the dish. It was our least favorite item of the evening.

We next ordered the Octopus. This was easily the best item of the night. It was a good-sized portion of octopus cooked with a little char. It was tender and juicy. It was served with a delicious chickpea sauce. If you like octopus, I highly recommend ordering this.

We next ordered a pizza, the Countryman. The pizza was mediocre. Basically crust slathered with truffle butter and some cheese. And then the server cracks an egg on it and mixes the egg around on the pizza. The crust is absolutely tasteless and I found the truffle-butter/sauce they put on the pizza to be overpowering which ruined the rest of the pizza. There were lots of "Jersey Shore" pizzas being served. It is Mike's favorite after all. We maybe should have ordered that. The pizza can't hold a candle to Two Amys, Matchbox, [insert high priced pizza place here].

Lastly, we finished up with the Roasted Potato Gnocchi. The server forgot the gnocchi so we had a reasonably lengthy pause between our pizza being served and the gnocchi being served. The gnocchi was good. The gnocchi were tender and covered with a very tasty braised pork shank - basically BBQ pulled pork. I could have eaten a plate of the pork - it was delicious.

By this time, we were stuffed and we didn't order dessert. All in - $100 or so for two.

Overall impression is that if the restaurant can keep packing in the young lawyers, it will make it, but if it can't it will be closed within a year. I thought the portions were rather small for the price and the alcohol was rather pricy. Mike was in the kitchen and walking around the room a little, visiting certain tables. I sort of found the whole experience to be fake and overworked, trying to be something it isn't.

#44 SeanMike

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 02:22 PM

FYI: the tasting menu/chef's choice is now $65.

Had it on Friday night - quite enjoyed it, had a good time, though that was the loudest restaurant I've visited in a long time. Didn't help that someone sitting behind me was even louder.

When I have time to pull a menu and what we had from there, I'll post more details.

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#45 JuneBacon

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 03:39 PM

basically BBQ pulled pork

I must have missed the BBQ sauce on my gnocchi :mellow:

#46 New Foodie

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Posted 09 August 2011 - 08:13 AM

FYI: the tasting menu/chef's choice is now $65.

Wasn't it $45 at opening? Then I think it was $55 when I went a few weeks ago. :mellow:

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#47 SeanMike

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 01:17 PM

Okay, so the details from our dinner, one week ago.

When we walked through the door the first thing I thought was "HOLY HELL THIS IS LOUD" (I had to think in all caps because it was so loud).

We got the table all the way in the back on the first floor - it was less loud there, but still quite loud. There were six of us, and I was on the inside - the volume meant I could not hear a thing the server said. It definitely didn't help also that the group behind us had one person who was determined to talk OVER the noise.

We all got the tasting menu, and five of us got a glass of prosecco. I didn't think it was that bad. I didn't care for a second glass, on the other hand (and neither did anyone else). Water service was exemplary at the beginning of the meal and slowly drifted away...

Most dishes we got served two of - so two identical orders, one for every three of us. Exceptions to be noted.

Bread plate

I loved the corn bread. There was a focaccia that was too cold and salty for me, unfortunately. I liked the sides they provided (olive oil jam, fresh ricotta), but would've loved to have plain old butter. That's just me, though.

Sugar Snap Peas, Spiced Beet Salad, Marinated Olives

All were good, didn't blow me away but had fun eating them. There was a single hot pepper in the olives. One of our group thought it was an olive. That was funny.

Salads: Greens, Ceasar

Dude, the cream cheese croutons on the Ceasar made everyone's eyes light up with joy. They were great! Still, as a salad, the greens one was better, but I cannot stop thinking about those croutons! They made me so happy.

Ham: all of them

Basically, the table had ended up broken down by one end boys, one end girls. We got a plate of ham, three different kinds on a plate - one plate local hams, the other imported. I couldn't hear which were which for the most part but the heart of the prosciutto was fantastic.

Pizzas: Countryman, Vermont, one other one

I didn't like the Vermont, really. The Countryman was great. I forgot what the other one was. The pizzas' crust was kind of meh - they were buoyed by the toppings, except on the Vermont, which I think was just too much (especially for this type of meal). I was kind of hoping one would be the Jersey.

Wood oven: pork rib, bone marrow

The pork rib was okay. No, I take that back - it was good, and it fell right off the bone. It was just that the next day I had pork ribs that my brother made, and his were better. :mellow: The bone marrow was good but had a texture I'd not had before with marrow - it was more granular and dry. Threw me off guard at first.

Pastas: Sweet corn agnolotti

DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN THAT WAS DELICIOUS

Desserts

Cookies were delicious. So was the chocolate tart. I thought I was full at this point.

BONUS ROUND

One of the girls mentioned we hadn't gotten any pepperoni sauce. Our server offered to bring us a sample of it and some extra bread to try it with. Instead they brought us two bowls of pepperoni sauce, an order of bread, and an order of chicken thighs. The thighs were great! The sauce was good too. I ate some more even though I was too full and just planned on ordering Fernet at the next stop (America Eats).

Totals and wrap-up

Per person, the total ended up being $80. AND 12 CENTS! (Sorry inside joke.) I don't know what the total was or how it came to that, because I was on the inside and never saw the bill.

For that price, it was a ton of food, and even if I don't sound enthusiastic about it really I liked almost everything, and the hits - wow, some of those were great. The agnolotti, the thighs, the salads, the Countryman - a lot of the stuff that I liked the most I probably would never have ordered!

It was stupid loud in there but our servers were friendly and enthusiastic. We got to watch the kitchen work and Mike Isabella swung by to say hi. Not that I could hear the servers or him but it's not like I have the best hearing in loud situations anyways (drums + guns + heavy metal concerts + Harley = WHAT DID YOU SAY). I had a fantastic time there - I wouldn't necessarily make it a part of my usual rotation, but I'd love to go back (especially to introduce some of my friends to those cream cheese croutons).

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#48 DCDeac

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 01:55 PM

I work right next to Graffiato, and while it's a solid food spot, the drinks really are criminal.

Right around the corner you have PS7s for cocktails, and right around another corner you've got MatchBox serving solid beer.

I would say roughly 20 of my coworkers have stopped in for a post-work drink and a snack or two. Everyone liked the food, but they avoid Graffiato like the plague if they just want a drink or two. $7 for 10 ounces of DC Brau? $9 for a half-pour of gin?
It's like someone made a huge mistake buying glassware and it dictated their drink makeup.

#49 hillvalley

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 09:52 PM

Pastas: Sweet corn agnolotti

DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN THAT WAS DELICIOUS

Amen.
One of, in not the, best pasta dishes in DC.
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#50 dpamlin

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 07:39 AM

Not sure the, uh, metaphor, quite fits. But in any case, I don't think any of us would begrudge you if you simply flagged links to your DCD reviews in the relevant threads here -- and I'm fairly confident it would make the discussions in those threads even richer, and that we'd all be grateful. I, for one, welcome efficiency in my gastro-surfing.

i agree Don, your reviews for your other sites would be most welcomed in the threads here. Cheers!





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