707 Sixth St., NW
Washington, DC 20001
Neighborhood: Penn Quarter/Chinatown
Cuisines: Pizza, Italian
Nearby Metro Stops: Gallery Place-Chinatown
Price Range: Inexpensive
The crowds may be drawn by the prospect of snapping a picture with tatted-up chef Mike Isabella, whose appearance on Top Chef emboldened him to open his own restaurant. Or by the prospect of mingling with the young, stylish patrons who flood the bar. What keeps us coming back is the zip of Isabella's small plates and pizzas, which seem tossed off but involve layers of work and detail. The cooking, at its best--the dishes that summon the chef's Jersey past--pulses with a big heart. With its exposed brick and industrial ceilings and floors, the restaurant looks like many trendy downtown DC spots, but the energy is different. This isn't dinner as theater--it's dinner as after-party.
What to get: Snap peas with goat cheese; cauliflower with pecorino and mint; pork ribs with coriander yogurt; chicken in pepperoni sauce; polenta with pork meatballs and egg; Jersey Shore and Classic pizzas; chocolate-hazelnut sandwich cookies.
Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, Sunday for dinner. Moderate.