“Hi, my name is Cori Sue, and I’m addicted to Graffiato.”
“Hiiiiiiiii, Cori Sue.” (You’re supposed to reply in unison, NA-style. I can’t hear you!)
Seriously, though, I’m an addict. I’ve been there at least seven times. Considering how much I value variation between locales, this is an impressive feat.
Perhaps it’s the delicious Italian carbs (a preexisting addiction). Perhaps it’s the tapas-style rotating menu. Perhaps it’s the fresh, natural ingredients. Or, the cute bartenders. The Prosecco on tap definitely doesn’t hurt the cause. All I know is, if I were Mike Isabella’s wife, I’d be worried, because Cori Sue has practically made Graffiato her second home.
So, when they launched brunch, I was there, sitting at a bright window-side table, my sunglasses on, next to my lovely friend Wygo. We met through Blondes vs. Brunettes, so, naturally, as we are footballers, we utilize nicknames. (They call me Sue-Mo.)
Brunch at Graffiato is actually lunch, which is an abridged version of dinner, plus a five-item brunch addendum.
Additionally, there are three brunch cocktails (crucial): a Bloody Mary, Bloody Sparkling (blood orange puree with Prosecco) and the Traveling Riverside Blues (blueberry infused grappa, local sparkling wine, grapefruit). Despite the temptation of heavenly blood orange champagne goodness, after a very late night on H Street there was no way I was imbibing anything other than coffee and h2o.
Meanwhile, Wygo opted for a cream soda, which she said tasted like “creme brulee in a bottle.”
The five brunch items offered were cinnamon knots, meatballs with polenta and a farmed egg, spaghetti carbonara with pancetta, parmesan and egg, a breakfast pizza with bacon, cheddar, broccolini and an apple calzone. I will say Mike Isabella managed to craft a brunch menu that is brunch … yet still distinctly Graffiato.
We began with the cinnamon knots, which were light, fried fluffs of pastry drizzled with Nutella. They tasted lightly of cinnamon, which blended surprisingly well with the Nutella. The dish was less sweet than I anticipated—a good thing, as no one wants a sugar-induced headache along with their hangover.
Every time I go to Graffiato, I order the gnocchi. Fortunately, the seasonal menu changes regularly, so the dish is never the exact same.
On this occasion, Isabella’s now-infamous gnocchi were fried and crispy, served with wild mushrooms and a Stacciatella inspired sauce. (Stacciatella is prepared by blending eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg into a light broth). I love wild mushrooms, I love gnocchi—and Mike Isabella’s gnocchi can’t be beat. As we’ve said before, they are fluffy little clouds of heaven.
“All of the dishes were great but the gnocchi stood out most for me. The crispy texture of the gnocchi with the lightly flavored mushrooms tasted warm and seasonal. It was perfect, high-end comfort food,” confirms Wygo.
The charred Brussels sprouts had a Greek flair. The crispy sprouts were tossed in lemon juice, served over yogurt and topped with crumbled egg. A breakfast-like dish from the lunch menu that was delicious and satisfying—who knew Brussels sprouts could be so satisfying?
Adds Wygo: “This dish was a surprise. I’m not the biggest Brussels sprouts eater in the world and I believe that Graffiato’s ‘sprouts could convert any non-believer. The egg crumble top with a light yogurt bottom was a perfect complement to the crispy sprouts. Even without the Pancetta topping, this was amazing.” (Apologies from the vegetarian).
Like the gnocchi, the tortellini changes regularly. On this occasion, the dish was butternut squash topped with goat cheese, wilted arugula, pineapple squares and walnut pieces.
The apple calzone, while good, was my least favorite dish on the table. It was pizza dough with caramelized cinnamon apples stuffed inside. Only, as is the nature of a calzone, the apples all shoved over to one side of the pastry during baking. It was topped with delicious, fluffy vanilla mascarpone, which makes anything delicious.
Sadly, we couldn’t get the breakfast pizza because they were unable to separate out the bacon for this vegetarian. So, we opted for one of the better known pizzas—the Jersey Shore. Crispy thin crust pizza, tomato, provolone and fried calamari rings topped with a spicy, creamy cherry pepper aioli.
“It was not too spicy and the calamari was cooked to perfection—something that is hard to find,” says Lauren. (She brought the leftovers home to her beau, who devoured them and correspondingly fell asleep on the couch. Graffiato has inadvertently acquired another fan).
Our server was adorable—very friendly and helpful gentlemen who went out of his way to assist with my vegetarian demands and helpful in recommending dishes.
There is one simply awful thing about brunch at Graffiato—says Lauren: “The worst thing about brunch was drooling and waiting for Cori Sue to take photos before I could eat.”
The Bitches say: A. The food at Graffiato can’t be beat. They fell short of an A+ as we’d like them to perfect the calzone and add another egg dish. But, whatever; Isabella knows I’ll be back.
707 6th Street N.W.