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Graffiato: Recommend Chef's Tasting

m
miltronix Jul 13, 2011 06:46 AM

Took my wife to Graffiato last night to celebrate her birthday and had a really great time. The only nits were it took almost 20 minutes to get sat despite arriving on time for our 7:45 pm reservation and the food took about 15 minutes to arrive (even the bread basket). From a food perspective, almost everything was executed flawlessly.

If you're not sure what to pick, definitely go with the Chef's Tasting. We got to try every single pasta on the menu, every meat and even had a couple dishes that were only available if you ordered the Chef's Tasting (braised romano beans - good not great and zeppoles - great texture but the strawberry powder reminded me of Frankenberries cereal...I think a simple powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar would've been perfect). On top of all those dishes we received a Jersey Shore pizza, a couple of the dishes from the specials menu (tuna crudo was tasty - the lemon zest was really perfect for brightening up the flavors. The pan fried sea bass on the other hand was newsworthy. The skin was crisp and the meat perfectly cooked. The accompaniments of zucchini, eggplant and squash were a great foil since they were slightly sweet - I think from a vinegar reduction.

The pastas were really awesome. Perhaps the best dish of the night was the hand cut spaghetti. The texture of the noodles combined the cherry tomato sauce was a home run. Such a simple dish yet so delicious. One of the best simple spaghetti dishes I've ever had.

The roasted potato gnocchi were nice too. The gnocchi were the lightest gnocchi I've tried (had really great gnocchi at Bar la Grassa in Minneapolis but they couldn't compare to the lightness of these) and the braised pork and creamy burrata really made this a great comfort food. Probably something you'd love on a cold winter day.

My wife inhaled the sweet corn agnolotti because the filling of corn reduced in its own liquid and finished with marscapone was really sweet. You better enjoy sweeter foods for this one because that's the main taste although the chantarelles and sauce helped lend more of the savory notes needed to balance the dish.

Of the Wood Oven or Meats section as I liked to call it, all of them were really good and I'd order again other than the King Crab leg. The preparation was nice with a flavorful bread crumb over the leg and a sea urchin sauced knuckle meat salad but it was all brought down by a slightly less than perfect crab leg and a bit of overzealousness with the salt.

The chicken thighs in the famous pepperoni were really intensely flavored so the portion in my mind was perfect. A couple more pieces and you'd probably not be able to eat anything else for the night...

The bone marrow was an interesting take where they already scooped out the marros and then mixed it with bacon, cured lemon, pistachio and bread crumbs. It reminded me of an ultra rich stuffing. Really intense flavors once again.

The desserts were probably the weakest part of the meal. We had carrot panna cotta, chocolate tart with sea salt gelato, nutella cookies and zeppoles.

The carrot panna cotta were probably the best of the desserts. While the texture was a bit too firm in my mind for panna cotta, the flavors were really cool in that it tasted like a carrot cake. The other desserts were just ok and I probably could've been ok with just getting some gelato.

Throughout the course of the meal chef Mike Isabella could be seen visiting the various tables which was nice. He even signed my wife's menu and took a picture with her (there were a lot of chef groupies that night it seemed. 1 out of 3 women asked for a picture with him). This was one of the better and fun meals I've had in DC in a long time. If the cooking keeps at the level it's executing already, this will be a busy place for quite some time.

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Graffiato
707 6th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

  1. v
    VaPaula Jul 13, 2011 10:04 AM

    Thanks so much for the detailed review! I especially noted the comment on the corn agnolotti, which seems to be talked about often. Sweet is just not my thing these days.

    How far in advance did you have to reserve?

    1 Reply
    1. re: VaPaula
      m
      miltronix Jul 13, 2011 12:16 PM

      I reserved about 2.5 weeks in advance.

    2. kukubura Jul 14, 2011 03:11 PM

      Sounds great! We'll try it when we can.

      1. Smiles2008 Aug 27, 2011 01:18 AM

        Sounds great and your chef's tasting sounds a lot better than my visit last Wednesday for dinner. My experience was so poor that I don't think I can consider doing the chef's tasting that was well described above. I found the food very average and the service staff to be literally off the street with no knowledge of food. Very fast foodish.

        1. s
          sara11 Feb 20, 2012 08:54 AM

          I agree- this is a fantastic place with exceptional food. I have tried all of the vegetables and they are simply sublime- the cauliflower in particular is a standout. The pizzas are great, drinks are great. The burrata is not only the best I have ever eaten, but the combination of flavors is definitely "sum greater than the parts."

          I don't love the ambiance upstairs, doesn't seem as special as it should be, given the quality and creativity of the food. Not bad, but just doesn't feel cozy.

          -----
          Graffiato
          707 6th Street NW, Washington, DC 20001

          1. p
            piafoodie Feb 20, 2012 12:53 PM

            We ate here last month and agree that the food was excellent - but super over-priced in my opnion. However, the Gnocchi were the best I've had since my Nonna (long passed) made them by hand. They are incredibly light and fluffy.

            My big complaint though, was the head-banging music that blasted the entire time we were there. We had to shout at each other to converse, as did everyone else at the surrounding tables. It was really unpleasant and I had a big headache after I left! I don't know if that was just the night we were there, or did anyone else experience too-loud music?

            4 Replies
            1. re: piafoodie
              e
              Elyssa Feb 20, 2012 07:42 PM

              It wasn't just you. It's a very loud restaurant. Upstairs is a little better but if you are looking for a quiet evening out, this probably isn't the best spot.

              That said...the food is consistently excellent!

              1. re: Elyssa
                v
                VaPaula Apr 21, 2012 08:31 AM

                We went last night. Overall, we liked it a lot.

                Favorites were:
                Pork ravioli - a special, which is being entered into some sort of Chefs' pig contest this weekend
                Broccolini - nice, clean fresh flavors
                Burrata - those onions do something wonderful to this dish
                Crispy potato gnocchi
                Spring garlic soup
                Marinated octopus
                Flatbread with pepperoni dipping sauce (not a culinary experience, but fun & tasty)
                Salted caramel gelato

                Just OK
                Suckling pig lasanga
                Glazed pork belly - I was looking forward to it, but it was just disappointing - not a lot going on
                Bitter orange cheesecake
                Strawberry zeppoles - what strawberry?

                We went with friends we haven't seen in awhile. Really hard to have a conversation. We were happy they took us upstairs, which is better, but still pretty loud. Music was not blaring, which was a good thing.

                I made the reservations for 4 about 3-1/2 weeks in advance, 8:30. Of course, we still had to wait. :-(

                1. re: VaPaula
                  j
                  Jeserf Apr 21, 2012 05:33 PM

                  I wish I could have heard more about the meal - we definitely need to reschedule our meal there....

                  1. re: VaPaula
                    m
                    miltronix Apr 24, 2012 11:44 AM

                    We also had the strawberry zeppoles which were pretty gross. They tasted like fried dough seasoned with strawberry cereal flavoring. Our friends who went with us went back a few months after my first report and experienced a much better rendition which featured a coffee flavoring.

              2. h
                hamster Oct 23, 2012 01:53 PM

                Disappointing first try at Graffiato this past weekend. Sat at the bar and had a great view of all of the food prep and the brick oven (got kind of hot though!).

                Some of the dishes were really tasty, but inconsistency in cooking was a big problem. I enjoyed the flat bread and pepperoni sauce (though my boyfriend found liquified pepperoni unappealing), as well as the roasted cauliflower and the pumpkin tortellini (but so small!), but the octupus and shortrib were both very inconsistent, perhaps due to the brick oven cooking? Some pieces were perfect and deliciously well cooked, while others were undercooked and tough. Not acceptable at this price.
                We also enjoyed the grapefruit curd dessert, which combined flavors and textures in quite an inventive way, with fennel meringue chunks and candied fennel.
                Cocktails were not good. We tried a pisco sour-esque thing, and an apple flavored thing, neither worth finishing. Again, not acceptable at $10 a pop.

                So, a few dishes worth eating, but I am unlikely to return or recommend to friends.

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