Italian Scribe

Dine like a star at Mike Isabella's Graffiato

After his star turn on two seasons of Top Chef, Mike Isabella has created a menu of all-star dishes from throughout his own life to serve at his first restaurant.

Graffiato's frequently changing menu of Italian small plates includes thoughtfully assembled dishes influenced by local ingredients, his childhood in New Jersey, and flavors from his time on the Bravo reality show.

Softly blistered wood-fired pizzas are a vessel for Isabella's creativity. Pork & Beans ($15) combines pepperoni, sweet peppers, arugula and a white bean purée. The Market ($15) includes diced summer squash, pools of melted goat cheese, tomato sauce and squash blossoms.

Isabella's chicken thighs ($10) are a chance to taste his television magic. Seared to create a crisp skin, the boneless cuts rest on a pool of thick, tangy and instantly iconic pepperoni sauce.

Mediterranean-inspired rustic pork ribs ($11; click here for the recipe) have warming oregano and coriander from Isabella's time in Greek kitchens.

Though Isabella's Italian-American grandmother inspired many dishes, like the off-menu zeppole dusted with strawberry-infused powdered sugar ($8), his wife's culinary skills also contribute: Stacy Isabella bakes the crumbly, salt-topped Nutella sandwich cookies ($5) for the dessert menu.

Graffiato, 707 6th St. NW (at G St.); 202-289-3600 or graffiatodc.com