Monday, August 8, 2011

Graffiato-- Penn Quarter

Gary and I are big Top Chef fans. In fact, we pepper our conversations with Top Chef-isms all the time-- like if someone delivers some bad news, it's accompanied by the Top Chef "your dish was terrible" sad sound.... weeeeeeeeaaaaaooooooooooow. We might also tell each other to "pack your knives and go" after a less than successful meal, but since we're typically in our own kitchen, it would seem unnecessarily harsh.

Anyway, since we're fans, we couldn't pass up a chance to go to Graffiato, Mike Isabella's new restaurant in Penn Quarter that opened this summer. I thought we might go there to celebrate our wedding anniversary, but dang-- it's not easy getting a reservation there. A lot of buzz surrounding this place! Since we were heading off on vacation, I put in a reservation for three weeks later and had no trouble reserving our preferred time.

We went early since we had Molly in tow. Now, despite this new study that suggests that what a mother eats while the child is in the womb may influence her food preferences, Molly is not a pizza fan. I don't understand it, frankly. How can anyone not like pizza?? But, we didn't have a sitter this night, so to the pizza restaurant she went.

As we walked in, we saw the man himself-- Mike Isabella. He glanced in our direction... then went about on his business. Really?? Didn't he realize that the city's, maybe even the WORLD'S, most influential pizza bloggers were in the house?? Hmmmpf. Well I nevah!

We were led to an upstairs table where we could see into the open kitchen, and the hostess got us a high chair for Molly. OK, can I go on a side rant here? When we got the high chair, the clasp on the strap was broken. I swear, 90% of the time we use a restaurant high chair, the clasp is broken. Do people not understand how to snap these things? Is there some major design flaw there? Or is some rogue child hater going restaurant to restaurant, systematically destroying high chairs so as to never again to have to listen to a screaming toddler while trying to enjoy a meal? Graffiato was open for like, a MONTH at this point, and the strap is already broken. What's up with that?

All right, back to the blog. We were assisted with our food selection by our cheerful server. And I am talking, seriously happy. Gary even commented, "What would a bad day look like for her?" Lots of DC restaurants have servers that are too-cool-for-school, but not here. Really, the sweetest girl ever. And she liked Molly, so bonus points for her.

We decided on a carrot salad, a pulled mozzarella appetizer, and the "Classic" pizza. Make note, pizza fans-- the Classic does not come with cheese. That's a bit of a head scratcher to me, but whatevs. We ordered it with mozzarella as an add-on. (You've gotta have cheese!) The pizza menu is not huge, but any restaurant with a "Choppin Broccoli" pizza gets my kudos.

One thing I will say for Graffiato-- they are fast. This is actually preferable when dining with a toddler, but may be a bit disconcerting for the average patron. Our cheese dish (delicious) was out in a flash; the salad (meh) followed soon after. But that's not why we were here, of course. What about the pizza?

The Classic was decent sized, about 12", and cut into 6 slices. The crust was nice and firm, no droop, which got the big thumbs up from Gary. However, the crust had a lot of flour on it, giving it almost a chalky taste. I had flour on my hands after eating it, which is a no-no in my book. The cheese had a nice, fresh flavor. The best part of the pizza, by far, was the sauce. It was made of roasted cherry tomatoes and had a rich flavor and a little bit of a spicy kick from the garlic. I have to say, maybe the best sauce I've had in DC, and different that what you'll find at most pizza places.

A tip for dessert-- I had read something on Twitter about the zeppoles, which are little bits of fried doughnutty goodness, at Graffiato. Not seeing them on the dessert menu, I asked my server about them. She nearly clapped her hands in delight, saying that we knew about the "secret" off-menu item. We ordered them, and they were delicious. So, the secret is out, Pizza Blog fans! Ask for the zeppoles-- you won't be disappointed.

As our meal came to a close, Molly started blowing kisses and waving bye-bye to the packed dining room. The kid is a ham, I'm telling you. Maybe because her parents are so famous.

So in summary-- loved the sauce on the pizza, but the floury crust brings our grade down a bit.

Liza and Gary's rating: 3.0 stars

Molly's rating: I'm stubborn so I ate mac'n'cheese from home.

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