Graffiato Richmond Opens on Wednesday
The second location of Chef Mike Isabella’s Graffiato at 123 W. Broad St. in downtown Richmond opens Wednesday, Sept. 10. The Italian-inspired restaurant is in a historic building that served as a furniture showroom as far back as 1909.
The interior of the historic Popkin Building has been updated with a wood-burning pizza and pizza bar. The design blends the industrial feel of Graffiato’s Chinatown location with the building’s unique historic features. The 6,700 square foot space will accommodate 210 seats, including 50 on the updated mezzanine and 12 at the new pizza bar.
“Richmond is such an exciting place to be right now. It’s an up and coming city with the makings to become a top-notch food scene,” said Isabella in a press release. “I’m thrilled to bring my take on Italian-American food to Richmond. Much like D.C., everyone from the farmers to our new restaurant and bar neighbors has been warm and welcoming. We can’t wait to open and become part of the restaurant community.”
Chef de cuisine is Matthew Robinett, formerly executive chef at Petit Louis Bistro and sous chef at Pazo Restaurant, both in Baltimore. The Richmond menu features many of the original restaurant’s best-selling small plates, like the sweet corn agnolotti, hand-cut spaghetti, roasted cauliflower and chicken with pepperoni sauce. There are also dishes unique to Richmond, including crispy artichoke with boquerones, capers and lemon; a dish of hearty eggplant caponata; and house-made cannelloni stuffed with shrimp and scallops. Dishes from the restaurant’s new wood-burning oven are featured prominently and include roasted vegetables and meats. The menu also reflects what is local and in-season from the Shenandoah Valley and regional farms.
Artisanal, hand-crafted pizzas are available including the Jersey Shore pie topped with fried calamari and cherry pepper aioli. New pizzas, available exclusively at the Richmond location, include the Clash of the Titans topped with clams, calamari, crab, tomato and arugula.
The beverage program features beer and Prosecco on tap and a wine list with both domestic and global selections, including varietals from Virginia. Taha Ismail, beverage director for all of Isabella’s restaurants, oversees the craft cocktail program. Offerings include originals the RVA Gin and Tonic, which mixes locally-crafted gin with strega and house-made tonic. Corporate wine director James Horn’s wine list includes a number of local bottles in its domestic offerings.
Travis Croxton, owner of Rappahannock Oyster Co., and Hilda Staples, partner in Graffiato D.C., have partnered with Isabella in Richmond. Graffiato Richamond’s bar will open at 4 p.m. daily with dinner service from 5-10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 5-11 p.m. Thursday and 5 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday.
Del Campo throws a tiki party, cooking class
Del Campo South American grill, 777 I St. NW, is bringing back Del Campo at Dusk, a tiki party on the restaurant’s roof on Friday Sept. 12 from 6-9 p.m.
Guests are encouraged to don their best island wear and enjoy panoramic city views while sipping tiki cocktails and sampling a menu of suckling pig, dumplings and spam musubi by chefs Victor Albisu from Del Campo, Scott Drewno from the Source by Wolfgang Puck and Jonah Kim formerly at Baltimore’s Pabu with drinks by Mary Kelly and Tom Brown.
Cost is $65 including tax and gratuity. Tickets must be purchased in advance online. The next Del Campo at Dusk will have a Day of the Dead theme with guest chef Michael Schlow of Tico on Oct. 31.
Beginning this Sunday, the restaurant is beginning a limited daily wine special, which will be posted on the Asado Bar chalkboard at 5 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, which will be available throughout the restaurant. The special will present a handful of bottles of one of the restaurant’s best wines at deep discount, but when the bottles are gone, the special ends.
On Sept. 27 from noon-3 p.m., Albisu and Kim explore the parallels of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine with an East meets West cooking class. There will be cooking demonstrations and guests will receive recipes for ceviche, sushi, anticuchos and robatayaki. The class will be accompanied by lunch and beverage pairings. Cost is $98. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.
ThinkFoodGroup names Grant CEO, secures financing
Kimberly Grant, who joined José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup in February as it chief operating officer, has been promoted to chief executive officer.
The former president of Ruby Tuesday’s is replacing company co-founder Rob Wilder, who was named vice chairman of the company’s board of directors. Wilder will assume “a broader strategic role in helping shape the company’s future,” according to a press release. Andrés has been named executive chairman and will remain president as well, “retaining his current visionary and strategic role within the company and working closely with Grant to drive all aspects of its culinary crusade.”
The announcement comes as TFG announced a second round of financing from its investor group, which includes Fredrick Schaufeld and Todd Klein of SWaN & Legend Venture Partners, and Mike Klein, co-founder and chairman of CoStar Group. TFG did not disclose the amount.
The press release said the new funds would help the company expand into new markets and create a new brand, including a fast-casual concept the company said it hoped to launch in early 2015.
TFG did not provide any details about the fast-casual concept, but it did post ads on its website last month for a chef and brand manager for a fast-casual restaurant in D.C.
“The increased equity financing by our group of investors represents a very gratifying vote of confidence in our mission as a company, to literally change the world through the power of food,” Andrés said in the press release. “And in a very short time, Kimberly has proven to be a strong leader who will be an incredible asset in driving the company to new heights.”
Wilder said he and Andrés had identified Grant’s “vast experience and confident, thoughtful style as the perfect match for where TFG is heading.”
TFG currently operates some 20 full-service restaurants in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and Puerto Rico, as well as the DMV including Jaléo in Penn Quarter, Bethesda and Crystal City; Oyamel, Zaytinya and Minibar in Penn Quarter; and America Eats Tavern, which opened in the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner in June. TFG opened Baraar Meats and Ku Noodle in the SLS Las Vegas Hotel and Casino last month and plans to open a Chinese-Peruvian restaurant called China Chilcano in Penn Quarter later this year.
Thaitanic II closes in Columbia Heights
Thaitanic II at 3462 14th St. NW in Columbia Heights closed on Aug. 31. The original Thaitanic is still open 1326A 14th St. NW in the Logan Circle neighborhood.
The Columbia Heights restaurant will be replaced by Thip Khao, a Laotian restaurant by Chef Seng Luangrath, who owns Bangkok Golden in the Seven Corners Center of Falls Church.
Thip Khao translates to “sticky rice serving basket,” a staple on any Laotian table. Unlike Bangkok Golden, which features both Thai and Laotian cuisine, Thip Khao will focus more on food from Luangrath’s native Laos. Although it shares its western border with Thailand, Laos has developed its own style of cooking.
The traditional family-style menu will have about 30 items, including a variety of larb, a minced meat salad, and grilled items, plus some rotating specials. Fans of Bangkok Golden’s crispy rice salad will be happy to know it will also be served at the District locale. Luangrath is also interested in launching a brunch.
The restaurant will have a bar and house-made tropical sodas. The space will have about 90 seats plus an outdoor patio, which won’t debut until next year.
Tel’Veh in Mount Vernon Square to become Rudy’s Café
Tel’Veh wine bar, 401 Massachusetts Ave. NW, has had a rough two years. Going through three managers since it opened its doors in 2012.
Known for its wine list and bottomless brunch, Tel’Veh has struggled to stay above water. Although the summer fairly busy, the restaurant was affected by the lengthy construction along Massachusetts Avenue and their try new Turkish cuisine didn’t fare well with the new, younger residents in Mount Vernon.
Now, RuninDC reports Tel Veh will open on Monday as Rudy’s Café with the same ownership and Chef Kevin Taskesen, who will retool the menu to a more streamlined Mediterranean fare. Free tapas will be served to the first comers.
DGS Delicatessen plans Mosaic District restaurant
DGS Delicatessen, 1317 Connecticut Ave. NW, will open a second location in the Mosaic District in Merrifield, Va., according to the deli’s Facebook page.
The new restaurant will open in the spring next to Brine, the recently announced restaurant from Rappahannock River Oysters co-owner Travis Croxton, according to Nick Wiseman, who co-owns DGS with his cousin, David Wiseman.
Unlike the original, where diners enter to the sight of the kitchen, visitors to the Mosaic location will find a 20-seat bar. The bar will have a vintage soda pull and an expanded list of sodas.
The 80-seat space is being designed by Edit Lab at StreetSense and will have more of a classic deli vibe with upholstered booths, black-and-white floor tiles and art deco lighting.
The traditional deli fare such as matzo ball soup, chopped chicken liver and pastrami sandwiches will be served, but dinner will be given greater emphasis. Among chef Brian Robinson’s new dishes will be chicken schnitzel with braised red cabbage and whipped potatoes and a grilled ribeye with latke tots.
The 1,000-foot basement kitchen at the Dupont Circle location, where the pastrami, pickles and smoked salmon are made, will produce the products for the new location, Wiseman said.
“We’ve put a lot into learning how to make this food and perfect these systems, and we have a production team that really knows what it’s doing,” he told Washingtonian magazine. “We felt like there was a lot of untapped potential here. We might as well tap the potential and keep going.”
A third DGS Delicatessen in Montgomery County may also be n the works, as customers have been lobbying for a while.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.