We finally got to try out Top Chef Alum Mike Isabella's DC restaurant Graffiato. Of course by now the buzz has died down and he has opened 2 other restaurants, doh! But that's okay, it means it was easy to get a table, even on the weekend. The restaurant is trendy and urban and almost a little hipster, with rustic wood tables and graphic, cartoon wall murals. The cocktails are inventive and the wine list is good; they are even using a new type of device that let's them pour from a bottle without removing the cork and without introducing oxygen, so that they can do wines by the glass that never would have been available before. Nifty. The food is Italian style small plates, which overall were quite yummy. It is overpriced, though, which is what you get with "celebrity" chef's in already pricey places like DC. So just be prepared for sticker shock if you go.
First small plate was burrata with kumquat and shaved smoked pork loin. A beautiful mix of creamy, sweet, tangy, smokey, and salty - A+.
Next up was the charred octopus, which was good but wasn't as charred as I would like it and definitely wasn't better than Nostos's.
We also had the focaccia with Mike's famous pepperoni sauce, which I didn't get a photo of. I was surprised at how good the sauce was, considering I am not a fan of pepperoni. Jasper, who loves pepperoni, was a big fan.
Ravioli special - chicken and mushroom. This, along with the sweet corn agnolotti that I didn't get a photo of, was the best dish in my opinion.
This pappardelle with rabbit was good, but not great.
It was the same story with the seashells pasta with snails and bone marrow - good, but not great. Here I think the problem was a mint pesto that was overwhelming.
We were focused on ordering small plates to get a sampling of the menu, so we weren't able to order a pizza. I hear that they are fantastic, so I would like to return to try one (the countryman, in particular). I would say that the stuffed pastas are smaller portions than the other pastas, but have much better flavor; the burrata was a standout; and the pepperoni sauce is worth the hype. If I hadn't been with my meat loving husband, I would have loved to try some vegetable dishes. Isabella treats his ingredients with care, so I imagine that he could make a simple vegetable dish amazing.
Overall, worth a try if you can afford it. Valet is available, but it is right next to the Chinatown Metro stop.