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Mike Isabella, chef and owner of Graffiato, will be opening a sandwich shop called G at some point this summer. From May 10 - May 24, Isabella hosted a G pop-up at Graffiato, which we made sure to hit up. The shop will be located at 14th and W St NW, but there is no specific opening date at this point.
Earlier this year, Isabella spoke with Washingtonian about what we can expect at G, but over the past two weeks we got a tasty preview of the actual sandwiches that will be served there! After attending this event, I must say that I cannot wait for this new sandwich shop to open.
Liz and I started our lunch with the Greek salad, which was comprised of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, red onions, Kalamata olives, and feta cheese. At a price point of $7, we were expecting a fairly substantial salad (especially since there was no meat in it), but the size was definitely more of a side salad. It was very tasty, but I think the $7 tag was a bit steep, and wouldn't order it again at that price.
On the other hand, the $10 sandwiches were definitely fairly priced. I ordered the chicken parm, and let me tell you, this is by far the best chicken parm sandwich I have ever had in my life. The chicken was perfectly breaded and retained moisture. I think that they might have used buttermilk in the breading process because it was truthfully just so flavorful. The tomato sauce was comprised of cherry tomatoes and spices, a unique twit on the traditional marinara sauce. The cheese and bread were extremely fresh, and I think looking back that they might have included mozzarella in addition to Parmesan. The final unique touch was the addition of Thai basil. I'm not very familiar with this spice, but it was the perfect compliment to the sandwich and pulled all the flavors together seamlessly. The last thing I will say about this sandwich, is the size. It was a very substantial amount of food--I had trouble finishing it! Very unusual for me. Mike Isabella, please come be my personal chef and make this for me every day. Pretty please?!
Liz ordered the spicy mushroom panini. It was essentially a grilled cheese with mushrooms and some other yumminess. Again, the ingredients were incredibly well prepared. The mushrooms were well seasoned and actually seemed as though they had been marinated and then cooked separately before grilling the panini. I wouldn't have minded eating a side of them on their own--they were delish! The cheese was chosen well, it was not too strong or too mild and again the quality shone through. The bread (in my opinion the most important part of a sandwich) was also superb. It was crunchy and fresh. The additions of the ramp pesto and cherry pepper relish also jazzed up this sandwich nicely. It added a bit of flavor depth and the overall effect was delicious. The size of this sandwich was a bit smaller in comparison with the chicken parm, but it was still enough food.
Because I was so obsessed with the G pop-up, I actually decided to go back with some co-workers during the second week! I was surprised to see the menu had changed (that chicken parm was calling my name), but the meatball sub seemed like a good thing to try. When I saw it was served on garlic bread and included Thai basil, I was sold. The flavors on this sandwich were good. I think the meatballs could have used a bit more seasoning, but the sauce was so incredibly perfect that it might have just been overshadowing the meat. The bread was not as garlic-y as I anticipated, but the flavor did come through in just the right way. The only other thing I would add is that I did expect a few more meatballs on the sub. I wasn't quite as satisfied with the size of this, and didn't feel 'full' after finishing it. But, it was still an awesome sandwich, and I've heard rumors that it will be a regular addition to the Graffiato lunch menu!
Overall, Mike Isabella did an exceptional job with the menu at G, judging from the two preview events I attended. I cannot wait for this restaurant to open this summer. I will definitely be first in line to get another one of those chicken parms. Yum.