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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Graffiato in DC

This past weekend I went with my bf and 2 of my friends to Baltimore for a friend's wedding. We flew into DC on Friday to see some sights. But before we see all the famous monuments, we gotta have some lunch! hehe.

I was thrilled to find out that not too far from all the sights was Graffiato, Chef Mike Isabella's restaurant. He was on Top Chef Season 6 and also Top Chef All-Stars. As most of you may already know, I'm a die hard fan of Top Chef so this was super exciting for me. Season 6 was one of the toughest seasons because of the caliber of of the best seasons in my opinion.

707 6th St NW
Washington DC 20001
(202) 289-3600
Price: $-$$

Graffiato is located in Chinatown. It was cool to see all the store/restaurant signs translated into Chinese. I liked the decor of the restaurant, casual, urban yet rustic. We were warmly greeted by the hostesses and immediately seated. We could see the chefs cooking from our table. That was pretty cool. I asked the hostess if the Chef was in but she said he had just stepped out. But he was supposed to come back and she would definitely send him over if he did. I was really hoping I could meet him!!

We chose to sit downstairs because I had read about the $20 pick 3 lunch special (downstairs seating only) on Mon-Fri Noon-4PM. Graffiato is like tapas style but for Italian food. All the dishes are small but shareable with the table.

Two people ordered the $20 prix fixe...(the prices next to each item are if they are ordered individually).

Prix Fixe Combo 1:
Broccolini (spicy pepper relish, walnuts, feta) $6~ This was delicious. It was a cold dish, surprisingly. The broccolini was cooked perfectly tender and the flavors were very bright and refreshing.

Atlantic Striped Bass (potato, smoked eggplant, pine nut relish) $12~ The fish was cooked nicely and the presentation was so quaint. The smoked eggplant was really interesting. The color reminded me of squid ink.

Panna Cotta (caramel, chocolate, pretzel) $7~ I LOVED the pretzel crumble on this. It was by far the best part. The chocolate ganache/sauce was rich and dark and amazing. The panna cotta however wasn't the typical texture. It was more gelatin than creamy and the flavors were overwhelmed by the rich chocolate.

Prix Fixe Combo 2:
Charred Brussel Sprouts (pancetta, maple, egg) $7~ I love brussels sprouts and this did not disappoint. It was beautifully charred (which I haven't been able to achieve when I make it at home...) The delicate egg was an interesting touch on top. And there was a slight tanginess to the sauce which added another layer of flavor.

Jersey Shore (fried calamari, tomato, provolone, cherry pepper aioli) $16~ This was interesting. I've never had calamari on a pizza before, but how bad could fried calamari and pizza dough be together?! I liked how the pizza was lightly sauced and sprinkled with light cheese. The dough texture was great and the slight crunchiness from the calamari was a good contrast in texture. It totally worked! Yum!

Blood Orange Cheesecake (Passion fruit, basil) $7~ This was a very refreshing dessert. The fruit flavors were all very present in the dish. The blood orange cheesecake was light and fresh. My favorite part was the passion fruit sauce. It was super refreshing!

The other two of us just ordered individual dishes.

Hand Cut Spaghetti (olive oil poached cherry tomatoes, basil) $9~
This was a pretty small dish... The pasta was made in house and you could taste that. The texture was awesome. It was a very simple dish but good. My friend really enjoyed it.

Crispy Potato Gnocchi (wild mushrooms, stracciatella) $12~
I had to get the's what Chef Isabella is kind of known for on Top Chef. It was a cute dish, the gnocchi were small and delicate. The flavors were simple and light. I liked the stracciatella (a type of soft mozzarella cheese) on top that tied everything together. It was also kind of small, but I'm really glad I got to try it.

The food was great and I thought it was a really good deal for lunch. Our waiter was super nice and they were very prompt about cleaning up the empty plates and refilling our waters. It was a relaxing meal. I was just disappointed that I never got to meet the Chef. :( I almost told my friends to just leave me there while they go sight seeing so I could meet him. hahaha. Oh well. I guess I'll just have to make another trip to DC in the future. We all enjoyed the lunch. I thought the style of the food and restaurant really reflected Chef Mike Isabella, casual and simple but good quality.

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