restaurant review

Grateful for Graffiato

Happy post 4th of July everyone! Now while you’re sitting there thinking about how you’re going to be sick if you ever see another hot dog or hamburger, I have a more endearing thought about food: I need more pizza. But not just any pizza, I need more of the Countryman Pizza from Top Chef Mike Isabella’s Graffiato. Why do I need more? Because it was absurdly delicious, that’s why!!

Let me explain to you the night’s precedents, and how I ended up at this tiny little kitchen, where the brick oven takes up about half the cooking station. Its Sunday, July 3rd and my friends and I have just come back from a long day at the pool. We are hungry and warn out, looking for a nice, quick bite to eat so we can get our rest for the following day’s festivities. I had heard and read about Graffiato from many different sources, and everyone had raved about the food, but more particularly about the Prosecco keg. Yep, you read correctly, they keep Prosecco on tap! Who do these people think they are?! I’ll tel you who they think they are- geniuses. Geniui? Anyway.

We arrived at the Chinatown restaurant at around 8:30. The hostess greeted us with a smile, only to reveal our biggest fear- the wait was over an hour. Yes, we were hungry, but we decided to stay figuring if the restaurant was this busy on a Sunday, it must be worth it. We managed to squeeze in at the bar and immediately ordered glasses of Prosecco. I was amused that the oh too familiar handle of a keg was delicately pouring out a more agreeable carbonated beverage. Champagne out of a beer keg? Classy. While we sipped and our stomachs growled, we decided to order some appetizers to pass the time. We went with the marinated snap peas and the cheese trio- both excellent choices, but neither filling the void of a scrumptious and hearty dinner.

Then the real bad news came. The hostess approached us at the bar and told us that our table would not be ready at the expected time and that the kitchen would be closing shortly. She recommended that we order dinner at the bar and the bill could always be transferred if a table would open up. Wishful thinking at its finest. With much trepidation, we began to glance over the menu. I immediately forgot about our less than ideal dining situation as my eyes glazed over the menu. Everything looked so amazingly tasteful, I knew my decision would be hard. Luckily, the plates are rather small and sharing is suggested. My friends and I love to share, so this was not an issue.

We ended up ordering the roasted carrot salad, the aged balsamic risotto, the  polenta with pork meatballs, the roasted potato gnocchi, the market vegetable pizza and, as a “what the hell” kind of decision, the countryman pizza. Boy am I glad we opted for the second pizza. Everything was fabulous but this pizza, oh boy. Lets start with the crust- a true test of any good pizza. The doughy, crunchy, chewy concoction that laid underneath the heavenly toppings was perfect. A little bit charred, but still chewy, salty yet yeasty and sweet. Crusty goodness serving as a beautiful canvas for the main attraction. The countryman comes topped with gooey, salty fontina cheese, savory black truffles and an over easy duck egg. Yep- a. DUCK EGG!! At first glance, this pizza may not seem all that special. Its pretty dull with a hint of shine from the yolk. But once you sink your teeth into this baby, you’ll fall in love. It was rich, juicy, salty and altogether amazing. Words honestly cannot describe this thing. You just have to try it. Our other pizza came topped with a traditional marinara sauce, roasted squash, goat cheese and tomato blossoms. It, too, was beautifully crafted, but nothing can compare to the countryman.

When friends asked how my meal was, I raved. I completely forgot that I had to wait over an hour and a half for dinner and that once my dinner finally did come, I ate it standing up (there was no room at the bar for all four of us). I forgot that I didn’t get home until 11 when I had planned for a quick dinner and a quiet evening. Nothing else mattered because I was so astonished by the food. So, food lovers of D.C., I beg of you to venture out to Chinatown for Graffiato. But definitely make a reservation and definitely order a pizza. You won’t be disappointed.

P.S.- I apologize for pictures of my mouth watering meal- like I mentioned, my camera was being fixed! It’s back now though and I’m almost positive I’m about to go picture happy. 🙂