100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Graffiato

Fried calamari, tomato, provolone, and cherry pepper aioli top the Jersey Shore pizza Photograph by Scott Suchman.
Fried calamari, tomato, provolone, and cherry pepper aioli top the Jersey Shore pizza Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Top Chef alum Mike Isabella’s restaurant behind the Verizon Center is Italian-American, but a typical red-sauce joint it’s not. In the mood for calamari? You’ll find the fried rings on an excellent pizza zigzagged with spicy a├»oli. Pepperoni is refashioned into a zesty sauce served with flatbread. And a Caesar salad stands out thanks to cream-cheese croutons. Some of Isabella’s best plates revolve around vegetables—lemony roasted cauliflower with pecorino or crispy Brussels sprouts glazed with maple syrup and served atop Greek yogurt. One of our favorite pastas also eschews meat: a simple spaghetti done up with sweet cherry tomatoes and basil. The two-level dining room is clanging and chaotic, and service tends to be rushed. In other words, the place is great for a pre-concert dinner, not so much for an intimate date or leisurely catchup.

Open: Daily for lunch and dinner.

Don’t Miss: Chicken thighs with pepperoni sauce; Countryman pizza, with black truffle and an egg; White House pizza, with three cheeses, prosciutto, and honey; Chinatown ribs; compressed Asian pear with yuzu.

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