fuzzy510

Graffiato, Modern Italian Small Plates In Chinatown and Richmond

111 posts in this topic

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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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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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.

Cheers,

Rocks

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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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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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!

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