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I cannot imagine any restaurant ever living up to the borderline overexposed, most anticipated, blogosphere-lauded reception that Graffiato has received in D.C. this summer. It has been so hyped, that the Washington City Paper’s restaurant critic devoted an entire article to the hype surrounding Graffiato.

heaven: sweet corn agnolotti

However.  I will join the masses with this one statement: the sweet corn agnolotti is single-handedly one of the best bites of food I’ve ever had in my entire life.*

potato more: roasted potato gnocchi with braised pork shank and burrata

The pork ribs are cooked perfectly, the pork-fried almonds + beets are delicious, and, of course, the roasted potato gnocchi is one of the best manifestations of the humble spud. When it comes to dessert, the “secret” zeppole is perfectly decadent and airy at the same time.

adorable: (delicious) sparkling wine in a can with bendy straw

Of course, having an extensive list of sparkling wines (including prosecco on tap…and sparkling wine in a can!) does not hurt for those of us who are bubbly inclined.

All of that aside, I have to say that the best of Graffiato is its staff + fearless leader Chef Mike Isabella. Before Graffiato opened, I read an interview with Chef Isabella saying that he wanted Graffiato to be a neighborhood eatery where residents could just hang out. Given the Top Chef-stalker following, I was skeptical of Graffiato actually being a neighborhood eatery. But I must admit that I have happily been proven wrong. Since my first visit on opening night, the staff has been nothing but nice, gracious, and completely unpretentious. As a resident of the neighborhood, I welcome and love having a place a stone’s throw away from home where I can grab a drink and a delicious bite to eat after work (sans reservation). Bartender Brad gets extra love for entertaining voices and modifying the Sage and Confused to satisfy my love for Hendrick’s gin and cucumbers.

If you try to make a reservation on OpenTable, chances are you will not be eating at Graffiato for months. But if you are looking for a relaxed, casual, and fun dining experience, stop in and grab a seat at the bar. I’ve never waited more than 10 minutes for a seat, and I would argue that the dining experience at the downstairs bar is far more interesting than the dining room upstairs.

Despite the hype, Graffiato has managed to stay grounded and be a place where everybody knows your name.

risotto w asparagus and pesto

clams

saged and confused with a twist - subbing Hendrick's gin for vodka + extra cucumber extract

* Despite eating microwaved potatoes for much of my childhood, I promise, I’ve sampled culinary delights around the world, including the best of Italy! 🙂

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