The Restaurant

Graffiato

In June 2011, Chef Mike Isabella opened Graffiato, an Italian-inspired restaurant in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, DC. The 130-seat spot allows Chef Isabella to interact with guests while he crafts comforting dishes from seasonal produce and locally cured hams, hand-rolled pastas and marinated vegetable accoutrements. The two-story layout features an open ham bar on the second floor and a large wood oven tucked behind a U-shaped counter with 15 bar stools on the first floor. Both stations encourage dialogue between the guests and chefs.

Chef Isabella serves seasonal, artisanal pizzas and small plates inspired by the food he grew up eating in New Jersey prepared by his Italian-American grandmother. With heavy influence from Chef Isabella’s Mediterranean and Latin culinary training, Graffiato is anything but a traditional Italian eatery. Roasted potato gnocchi with pork ragu, chicken thighs with pepperoni sauce, charred octopus with summer squash puttanesca, and hanger steak with sun-dried tomatoes are a few of the signature wood oven roasted dishes. Broccolini with red pepper relish and melon with prosciutto are popular first plates. When the kitchen closes, the oven will stay fired to feed Washingtonians looking for a late-night bite.

Food, wine and beer are sourced domestically, and often from the East Coast. Look for unique cocktails, domestic wine and Prosecco served straight from a tap.

Executive Chef

Elliot Drew

Elliot Drew

Elliot Drew is the executive chef at Graffiato, the flagship restaurant from Mike Isabella in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood. He was previously the chef de cuisine at G by Mike Isabella, a role he held since the restaurant opened in July 2013. Drew initially joined the Mike Isabella Concepts team in 2011 to help open Graffiato, and returns to the restaurant now to helm the Italian-inspired menu.

Prior to his work with Isabella, Drew spent three years in Philadelphia, where he cooked in three of Marc Vetri’s Philadelphia restaurants, Osteria, Amis and Vetri. Drew has also worked in the Atlanta restaurant industry with stints at Panos and Pauls, JOEL, the Ritz-Carlton in Buckhead and Pricci, where he first cooked with Mike Isabella.

Drew hails from Laurel, Md. and holds a degree from the Culinary Institute of America.

MEET THE TEAM

The Restaurateur

Mike Isabella

Mike Isabella is a Washington, D.C.-based chef and restaurateur, honored in 2016 by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington as Restaurateur of the Year. In 2011, Isabella opened Graffiato to critical acclaim. Isabella now has more than a dozen restaurants in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with additional outposts in Nationals Park and Ronald Reagan National Airport. His newest and largest project is a food emporium in Fairfax, Virginia. Isabella Eatery is an unprecedented nine-concept dining experience spanning 41,000 square feet in Tysons Galleria, a luxury retail outlet in Northern Virginia.

In 2012, Isabella was named FOOD & WINE magazine’s The People’s Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic. Mike Isabella’s Crazy Good Italian is his first cookbook, also published in 2012.

Outside the kitchen, Isabella was a judge on “Man vs. Child: Chef Showdown” on FYI. Previously, he competed on Season Six of Top Chef, and Top Chef Duels, and he was the runner-up on Top Chef All-Stars. He was also a member of the American Chef Corps, a network of chefs from across the United States who serve as culinary diplomats and resources to the Department of State.

Before opening Graffiato, Isabella was the executive chef of José Andrés’ Zaytinya. During his three-year tenure, Isabella generated accolades and national attention for Washington, D.C.’s Mediterranean powerhouse restaurant.

Before settling in D.C., Isabella moved to Atlanta and found his culinary niche when he joined Buckhead Life Group’s top-notch Greek restaurant, Kyma. As chef de cuisine of the seafood-inspired menu, Isabella learned the flavors and techniques of Greek cooking.

Isabella’s formal training began at The Restaurant School in New York, taking classes and cooking his way through some of New York City’s finest establishments. Later, he traveled down the coast to Philadelphia, first as a sous chef for James Beard award winner Douglas Rodriguez at Alma de Cuba, then a host of other Stephen Starr restaurants. At El Vez, Isabella learned the true craft of Latin cuisine under the direction of Jose Garces, and as executive sous chef of Marcus Samuelsson’s Washington Square, where Isabella educated himself on the art of opening a fine dining establishment.