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Growing up in New Jersey, chef Mike Isabella says Friday nights meant two things: pizza and fried calamari. Now, he’s married the two. Behold, the “Jersey Shore” pizza at Graffiato, Isabella’s hugely ballyhooed new restaurant in Chinatown, which opened Thursday. Adorned with lightly crispy rings of squid and splashed with spicy, bright traffic-cone-orange pepper aioli, the Garden State-themed pie may be Isabella’s boldest statement on his entire opening menu, or at least among the various artisanal pizzas offered. (My dining companions and I spotted rival pizza maker and fellow celebrity TV chef Spike Mendelsohn checking out the new restaurant late Thursday night.)

While I savored the heat of the aioli somewhat, one friend would have preferred some real peppers instead. And all three of us agreed that the chewy crust could have spent a little more time in the oven to crisp it up a bit. But, compared to the boring fare at the typical slice joint across the street? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Graffiato, 707 6th St. NW, (202) 289-3600

Photo by Chris Shott