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Chicken Parm and Sunday-Night Feasts: An Early Look at G (Photos)
Mike Isabella debuts his most multi-purpose eatery yet.
Calling G a “sandwich shop” is a bit of a misnomer. Sure, sandwiches are the focus of Mike Isabella’s latest eatery (at least during the day), but few other operations roast whole goats for their subs or switch from chicken Parms to four-course tasting menus come dinnertime. Those familiar with the New York dining scene will automatically think of Torrisi Italian Specialties, which started as a daytime Italian deli turned nighttime prix-fixe spot, as the closest comparison. The association isn’t unwarranted; Isabella credits the Torrisi team as one the main inspirations behind his latest project, though there’s no formal affiliation. Here’s what to look for in the many faces of the new venture.
Classics (with a twist) and suckling-pig sandwiches
Perhaps more than any other Isabella-owned restaurant, G has a menu that connects directly with various areas of his background: Italian-American, Jersey, and Greek influences are all represented (as well as a section of “fresh & healthy” items from the Fit for Hope ringleader). Classics like the chicken Parm and meatball sub still get a twist; the former contains a sauce of braised chicken thighs beneath the crispy breast, while the meatballs in the latter are perked up with a generous amount of lemon zest, mint, and chilies, and topped with pork-neck gravy. The whole, wood-roasted meats from the adjoining Kapnos also make an appearance, including spiced baby goat dressed with harissa and a suckling pig-wich with apple mostarda.
Italian-style ramen and Dark and Stormys
Not all of the fare is the kind you’d find at an Italian deli. Soups include chicken noodle with the same kind of creamy sous-vide egg popular in ramen shops (you’ll find it under nitamago at Toki Underground). Beverages run the gamut, from local beers to bellinis, Dark and Stormys, Mexican coke, and a selection of house-made sodas in flavors such as mandarin-mint and watermelon-fennel. More Mediterranean is a selection of marinated vegetable side dishes, like spicy mushrooms with mustard seeds and house giardiniera.
While a smoky cauliflower sandwich with romesco and pickled vegetables is a pretty progressive menu item, desserts are far more old-school. Isabella wanted to re-create the kind of classics his mom used to make, such as banana cream pie. You’ll find it alongside chocolate layer cake, a classic raspberry-topped cheesecake, and a seasonal selection of pies, including peach and berry. The same sweet finishes continue on the evening menus (below), which offer choices like powdered sugar-dusted zeppole (fritters) and a gelato sundae.
Meat or fish dinner menus
Come Saturday, evenings get a bit dressier at the 46-seat shop. Sandwiches give way to a reservation-only four-course tasting menu ($40 per person), with the choice of a meat or fish entrée—again channeling Torrisi—and dessert. Antipasti of cured meats, cheeses, chicken liver mousse, and pickled vegetables are brought to the table family-style, and you’ll also find a set pasta course, like house-made noodles with cured pig jowl and fresh tomato sauce. You’ll then pick between sea or land, with dishes such as crusted fluke with smoked sunchokes or seared duck breast that’s dry-aged like a prime New York strip for two weeks. Allergies and vegetarian diets are accommodated with advance notice.
The evening tasting menus runs Wednesday through Saturday, but come Sunday you’ll find yet another style of dining. The family-style “gravy menu” sticks more firmly to Isabella’s Italian-American roots, with dishes like fried calamari, Caesar salad, linguini alfredo, and the namesake dish: a large pot of red-sauce gravy served alongside the pastas, rich with meatballs, sausage, slow-cooked pork shoulder, and a pig trotter. Classic cocktails, checkered tablecloths, Chianti in wicker baskets, and Sinatra crooning from the speakers round out the atmosphere.
And coming soon …
With Isabella officially split from Bandolero, all of his focus is on the new restaurants and Graffiato. Once G has settled into the neighborhood, look for nighttime sandwich service, late-night takeout and delivery, and specials for football season.
G. 2201 14th St., NW; 202-234-5015. Sandwich shop open daily 11 to 4. Tasting menu available Wednesday and Thursday 5:30 to 10, Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 11. Sunday gravy menu available 5 to 10.