I think I may have just found my new favorite restaurant in Graffiato! This is Mike Isabella's (from Top Chef) new restaurant in DC, and I have been chomping at the bit to try it since it opened last month! I just wish I had brought a better camera...oh well, you will have to join me in experiencing this awesome restaurant from my blackberry.
When you first walk in, the doorway is a bit crowded; however, my dining companion and I were quickly escorted upstairs to the main dining area. The tables are close together, but don't feel so close that you are invading anyone's private conversations. I love that you can see the kitchen from your table. You would think that it would make the dining area noisy, but really you could not even hear the kitchen!
After you order, you are brought these awesome spiced pistachios. I don't know what the mix is, but it's spicy, sweet, and salty all at the same time! I couldn't stop munching on these babies...that is, until my first course came.
Graffiato's menu is Italian small plates, so they suggest you order 2-3 plates per person. The pizzas are bigger, so they amount to more like 2 plates total.
For our first course, we started with the best caesar salad I have ever had. What is so awesome about a caesar salad? Well, they used a lemon dressing instead of a heavy creamy dressing. Also, there were these amazing cream cheese croutons on top, which just made the dish. They were chunks of cream cheese that were lightly breaded, then fried just enough to be crispy on the outside, and cool and creamy in the middle.
The next course was the sweet corn agnolotti. These pillows of creamy corn goodness were sprinkled with chanterelle mushrooms and pine nuts, and finished with a light cream sauce. After I tried my first bite, I wished that I had an entire bowl full of this awesome pasta....until the next course.
Our next course was the countryman pizza, which is toped with fontina cheese, a duck egg, and....wait for it....black truffles! I don't know if you know this by now, but I ADORE truffles in any form. My only complaint is that this pizza is not the prettiest to look at. A sprinkling of parsley would have helped the visual presentation. However, what's not to love about a pizza with black truffles?!
Next was my favorite course...and not something I have ever ordered before so I was doubly pleased. I saw bone marrow on the menu and knew I needed to try it! The presentation was beautiful with a long bone slit in half and stuffed with the marrow, pistachios, cured lemon, bread crumbs, and bacon. I was afraid that the texture would be squishy, but the marrow was creamy and rich while the nuts added texture and the lemon a great brightness in flavor.
Finally, we of course had to have dessert! They have so many great options, but my dining companion and I were craving chocolate, so we had the chocolate tart with sea salt gelato. Now, the tart on its own was nothing really to be excited about. However, when you eat it with the sea salt gelato...oh my goodness the dish just goes to another level! Of course, I have a think for salty and sweet things, but who would have thought that sea salt gelato would be amazing?
Now, being a new restaurant, I went in weary that the service would be terrible. However, Mike's got this place running perfectly! My water glass was always full, cleaned plates were quickly cleared away, and the food came out perfectly timed. Actually, at one point Mike actually came out and I almost had a heart attack. Sadly, I'm not a sneaky picture taker, so I didn't get a shot. However, this star-struck blogger did enjoy seeing one of her favorite Top Chef stars!
All in all I spent around $40 (including tax & tip), but I didn't leave feeling like I wasted any money. With the excellent quality of not only the food, but also the service, I feel satisfied with the amount that I spent. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm going to be saving some money for the next few meals eating at home, but as an impact on my overall budget, I'd have to say Graffiato was well worth it and I cannot wait to go back!