In the middle of DC’s Chinatown is Graffiato, a modern Italian-ish small plates restaurant that is churning out (and I do mean churning – our food came out super quick) innovative meals for the trendy Washington set.
You could definitely eat here even if you’re not feelin’ tapas, as I know many men are opposed to the idea of small plates. That’s what the pizza is for. And the pizza has some great crust. It’s soft on the underside but charred in just enough places. We tried the margarita, the porky’s revenge (aka: meat lovers), and the white house (mozzarella, taleggio, ricotta, prosciutto, and black pepper honey). Yum.
But if you ARE into small plates, there are some true standouts here. The brussels sprouts with maple syrup, yogurt, and chopped egg was a great way to start the meal. We also tried the ravioli in a yummy lemon butter and the butternut squash agnolotti with a hazelnut crunch that could have been my dessert. The crispy chicken thigh was also cooked to perfection and sauced with a pepperoni oil that is new to my taste buds but seemed like the perfect Italian response to the Asian chili oil that makes so many of those dishes great.
But there were two items I loved. Truly loved. The cacio e pepe cauliflower was addictive. I was actually upset I had to share it. Also, if marriage between a woman and a caesar salad were legal, I would have come back to New York a taken woman. They replaced standard croutons with two things. First, they sprinkled breadcrumbs over the top for a slight crispiness without that awful huge crunch of a traditional crouton that makes you forget you’re eating a salad. Then they added cream cheese croutons, which are not actually croutons at all but small cubes of cream cheese that were ever so lightly fried. I didn’t take a picture because we started eating it thinking it was just a basic caesar, not picture-worthy. How wrong we were.
Another tip: there was a preggo in our group so our waitress pointed out the housemade sodas. Not being pregnant myself, I turned one of them (the pineapple, sage, black pepper) into a cocktail. Recommended.