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Posted at 3:20 PM ET, 09/23/2010

'Top Chef' Isabella announces Graffiato

By Tom Sietsema

Fresh from taping "Top Chef All-Stars" this week, Mike Isabella is getting ready for another close-up: his much-anticipated first restaurant, which he's calling Graffiato (that's "scratched" in Italian) and hopes to open as early as February at 707 Sixth St. NW in Penn Quarter.

"This will be food I grew up eating, prepared by my grandmother" in New Jersey, says the former Zaytinya chef, 35, sounding a bit weary from his TV performance in Brooklyn. "I want to keep it simple." So there will be stuffed ravioli, wood-fired pizza and gnocchi with gravy, as Isabella's grandmother called her pork ragu enriched with whipped burrata.

The future two-story, 145-seat restaurant behind Verizon Center "needs some work," Isabella says. He has hired the design team responsible for Volt in Frederick (DMS/Perla) to give the location a redo. The ground floor will feature a bar and pizza counter; upstairs will have a charcuterie and cheese bar. Classic rock-and-roll will play throughout the restaurant, whose downstairs will be open Thursdays through Saturdays for drinks and pies from midnight till 2 a.m.

Isabella has tapped James Horn, who worked at Zaytinya, to serve as general manager. Fellow "Top Chef" contestant and Season 6 finalist Bryan Voltaggio of Volt is offering friendly support: He is among Graffiato's investors.

-- Tom Sietsema

By Tom Sietsema  | September 23, 2010; 3:20 PM ET
Categories:  Restaurants  | Tags:  Bryan Voltaggio, mike isabella, new restaurant  
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