all photos: Shauna Alexander
Last night at Graffiato, former Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella’s new italian joint was a BUZZ last night with local media mavens and you guessed it… a slew of TOP CHEFS! Everyone from the slight neurotic Jennifer Carroll (Season 6 & All Stars), wine snob and snappy dresser Stephen Asprinio (Season 1 & All Stars), local kingpin Spike Mendelsohn (Season 4 & All Stars), hot-head Dale Talde (Season 4 & All Stars), adorable food nerd Carla Hall (Season 5 & All Stars), and Top Chef D.C. winner Kevin Sbraga (Season 7) were on board to taste, mingle and congratulate Mike on a job well done. Not to mention local food heros (and Gods, in my humble opinion) Scott Drewno (of The Source/best brunch ever), Tiffany MacIsaac (Neighboorhood Restaurant Group’s amazing pastry chef) and WaPo’s Food Critic Tim Carman were in attendance too! But what I really want to know is… where was Richard Blaise?!
Now for the food: It’s perfect comfort food in all the modern ways you wish your Italian grandmother would cook. Mike Isabella’s pizza ovens go all the way up to 700 (Degrees). This, in combination with Mike’s well known personality and sense of humor, resulted in a menu of eight perfectly crisp crusted and completely idiosyncratic pizzas. Naturally, YOU HAVE TO try The Jersey Shore: fried calamari (as perfectly crisp as the crust), tomatoes, provolone and cherry tomato aioli (which tastes a little bit, and it the best way imaginable, like thousand island dressing) – it is bound to become a late night favorite, alongside the hearty Pork and Beans. The “more sophisticated” options (for lack of better description) are just as game: the black truffles, fontina, duck egg Countryman redefines the notion of what you thought pizza is, and the White House mixes black honey (geddit) and prosciutto to stellar results. All this too much? There’s always the classic, where Mike shows that you need to know and love the original form in order to dissect it properly.