707 6th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
*kitchen closes at 10pm
*kitchen closes at 11pm
*kitchen closes at midnight
*The bar & pizza oven are open late night after the kitchen closes
Washington, D.C. is not only home to political celebrities, but in recent years has become one of the centers of the celebrity chef universe. Mike Isabella, former contestant on Top Chef and former executive chef of Jose Andres’ Zaytinya, has stepped up his game with the opening of his new restaurant Graffiato.
Conveniently located near the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro stop, Graffiato offers italian food served in the form of small plates. Don’t be misled into thinking that “small plates” means “tapas”. They’re a little bigger than that, but still small enough that you’ll probably want to order two or three to satisfy your hunger. Graffiato also offers a pretty standout wine list with several local wines and beers as well.
I’ll say this right off the bat – the food was very good. It was little pricey for what we got, but the quality of the fare was excellent. Going with a group of friends is definitely a must so that you can try several dishes. The standout for me was the chicken with cabbage in pepperoni sauce. The sauce was meaty and spicy, and the chicken was cooked to a moist perfection with a delicious, crispy skin similar to the way peking duck skin is cooked. Also worth trying is the polenta, which is a grilled goat with pear, the pumpkin risotto and the chocolate tart with a fantastic sea salt ice cream. Don’t bother with the cauliflower soup and risotto balls. Keep in mind, the menu does change, so there’s a chance that there will be different offerings when you go.
As good as the food was, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the atmosphere. The venue was small with a few seats downstairs near the bar and a bigger, brighter dining area upstairs. Both floors had open kitchens (which was cool seeing Mike Isabella working hard in), but the place was way to loud. Specifically, the choice of music was a strange mix of Audioslave, Rage Against the Machine and other hard rock that didn’t really match the food we were eating. It’s not music I necessarily hate, I just don’t want it blasting into my ear while I’m trying to enjoy my meal.
Even with the bar-like atmosphere of Graffiato, the food definitely makes it worth a visit. Grade: B+