100 Best Restaurants 2012: Komi

No. 1


Inside this unassuming rowhouse next to a CVS, 32-year-old Johnny Monis is putting out the top culinary experience in Washington. Monis is not only a master of one-bite works of art–say, a spoonful of chopped diver scallop with caramelized coconut and micro-cilantro–but he also makes ordinary dishes such as spanakopita and gyro into revelations. We never thought we’d daydream about a few slices of goat wrapped in pita.

The age of gilded haute cuisine is very much in the rearview mirror here. Instead of Liszt, you’ll hear Bright Eyes and Wilco on the speakers. There’s zero snootiness–servers straddle the line between personable (“The goat? That’s my mom’s favorite dish.”) and polished, and sommelier Kat Bangs is endearing, funny, and passionate. The wine pairing ($70 per person) is generous–and shareable–and full of offbeat picks, including a pair of India pale ales to go with Monis’s rendition of a half-smoke.

What to get: There’s no menu–15 or so small plates lead to a pasta or two and then the grand finale, when you tear into a communal platter of roasted suckling pig, suckling goat, Wagyu beef, or salt-baked branzino served with freshly baked pita and an array of accompaniments. Recent highlights have included a bite of king salmon with “everything-bagel salt”; 100-layer beef-tongue gyro; charred octopus with grilled peaches, tomatoes, and house-cured anchovies; and gnocchi with salt-cod ragu.

Open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. Very expensive.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.