The rumors have been swirling for months. Now, it’s a done deal. Chef Mike Isabella announced today the details of his third (but possibly not last) D.C. restaurant. As widely speculated, it’s a Greek-themed eatery. Kapnos it’s called. (That’s Greek for smoke.) And, as long rumored, it will be located near the corner of 14th and W Streets NW. The latest twist: he’s also putting an Italian sandwich shop called G right next door.
Read our recent cover story on D.C.’s rapidly expanding celebrity chef du jour here. Check out the full press release, if you care to, after the jump:
CHEF MIKE ISABELLA PLANS TO OPEN TWO MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANTS IN EARLY 2013Washington, D.C.’s 14th Street Corridor Will Be Home to Isabella’s New Greek and Italian ConceptsWASHINGTON, DC – March 6, 2012 – Top Chef All-Stars Runner-Up, Mike Isabella announces plans to open two new restaurants at a 7,000 square foot space at 1326 W St. NW in early 2013. Kapnos, Greek for smoke, is the Greek restaurant Chef Isabella has been conceptualizing for years. Next door he will open G, a sister restaurant to Graffiato serving sandwiches by day and a four-course tasting menu in the evening.“I’ve been cooking Greek food for a large part of my career, so opening my own place was only a matter of time. With Kapnos, I want to bring something totally unique to DC; daily whole animal spit-roasting is a side of Greek cuisine that no one else is doing in this city,” said Chef/Owner, Mike Isabella. “G is a sister to Graffiato, but the menu will be more traditional Italian – a place to get a meatball hero for lunch and a four-course dinner.”KapnosChef Isabella will draw inspiration from Northern Greece to create a menu of spreads, breads, phyllo pies, vegetables and other small plates, including his signature wood-grilled octopus. Dinner will culminate with the choice of carvings from whole animals that have been spit-roasted all day, including lamb, goat, duck, chicken, and suckling pig.Two wood-fire grills with five rotating spits each and a small wood oven for flat breads will service the 150-seat restaurant. A marble chef’s table situated in front of the spits will offer up to 10 guests an the opportunity to pre-order a whole spit-roasted animal for their party. Kapnos will be open for dinner seven nights a week and weekend brunch. The wine list will offer an extensive selection from Greece and other European countries.Chef Isabella has named George Pagonis chef de cuisine and his brother, Nicholas Pagonis general manager. Nicholas is currently a manager at Graffiato and George formerly worked under Chef Isabella as a sous chef at Zaytinya. The brothers are first generation Greek American. Taha Ismail, who currently oversees the cocktail program at Graffiato, will also serve as head mixologist for Kapnos.GChef Isabella will tap Graffiato sous chef, Elliot Drew to serve as executive sous chef at G. The 45-seat space next to Kapnos will offer traditional Italian sandwiches, soups and salads for lunch seven days a week. Chicken parmesan, veal cutlet, sausage with peppers, and meatballs are some of the sandwich fillers Chef Isabella plans to serve by day.By night, G will offer a four-course tasting menu for $40. Dinner will include a pre-set menu of antipasti, pasta, choice of meat or fish and dessert. The kitchen will accommodate dietary needs, but no a la carte menu will be available.In addition to building the Kapnos and G teams from current and previous colleagues, Chef Isabella has brought on Steve Uhr as director of operations. Beginning April 1, Uhr will oversee all current and future restaurant projects for Chef Isabella.“We have worked together at Think Food Group in Washington, D.C. and at Starr Restaurant Organization in Philadelphia. Steve is a talented manager; he has opened some of the best restaurants in the country and I wanted him back on my team to help grow my restaurants,” said Chef Isabella.Previously, Uhr was the general manager for Atlantic Grill in Atlantic City. Prior to that appointment, he held general manager positions at several Washington, D.C. restaurants, including J&G Steakhouse, Blue Duck Tavern and Zaytinya. Uhr has also worked with renowned chefs Wolfgang Puck, José Andrés, Masaharu Morimoto, and Marcus Samuelsson.About Chef Mike Isabella
Mike Isabella is the Chef/Owner of Graffiato, an Italian-inspired restaurant that opened in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. in June 2011 and has already received local accolades and national attention. Before opening Graffiato, Chef Isabella was the executive chef of José Andrés’ Zaytinya. Previously, Chef Isabella worked under Marcus Samuelsson, Jose Garces and a host of other chefs and restaurateurs. Outside the kitchen, Chef Isabella recently appeared on Season Six of Top Chef, and he was the runner-up on Top Chef All-Stars. In spring 2012, he will open Bandolero, a modern Mexican restaurant in Georgetown, and in fall 2012, he will publish his first cookbook, Mike Isabella’s Crazy Good Italian.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery