Summer Recipe: Mike Isabella’s Diver Scallops Casino

The Graffiato chef creates a fresh riff on the Jersey Shore favorite.

Mike Isabella's garlicky, zesty scallops casino. Photograph courtesy of Graffiato.

We’re big clams casino fans—who doesn’t love shellfish, butter, and garlic?—so chef Mike Isabella’s riff on the traditional beachy recipe gave us immediate hunger pangs. Fresh butter-basted scallops get a kick from spicy capicola ham and chilies, and are topped with a garlicky breadcrumbs. The creation is part of Isabella’s Jersey Shore menu at Graffiato, which plays to his Garden State roots. The special lineup is available at the restaurant through Sunday, but this is the kind of dish you can make all summer long.

Diver Scallops Casino

Serves 2


6 medium diver scallops (available at Whole Foods or at local fishmongers)

1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided (½ cup for cooking capicola, and the remaining ½ cup for cooking scallops)

1 cup garlic bread crumbs (see recipe below)

8 tablespoons butter

½ pound capicola, diced small

2 to 3 Calabrian chilies packed in oil, thinly sliced (or substitute ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes)

¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

Salt, to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Using a ½ cup of olive oil, sauté the capicola until crispy on the outside but still tender on the inside, less than 10 minutes. Set aside on paper towels.

Heat ½ cup olive oil in a second large skillet over medium heat. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, and sear for about 6 minutes on one side. Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the pan and baste the scallops for 30 seconds.

Remove the scallops and place in an oven-safe baking dish with the seared side facing up. Add the remaining butter, and sprinkle generously with capicola. Top with garlic breadcrumbs and bake for 2 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly.

Garnish the baking pan with chiles, chopped parsley, and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

Garlic Bread Crumbs

Makes approximately 1 cup


1 cup panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

½ teaspoon sea salt


Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and olive oil in the pan. Add the breadcrumbs and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and sea salt, and stir until the mixture is golden brown.

Use the extra topping for pasta dishes, casseroles, or any dish that needs a garlicky crunch.

Don’t Miss Another New Restaurant—Get Our Food Newsletter

The latest in Washington’s food and drink scene.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.