Located in the ground floor space with a handful of outdoor tables, I was impressed with the space from the minute we walked in. From the brick wall lining the bar, to the delicate candles flanking homemade bottles of limoncello, the shiny new floor, great tables and chairs, to the brick oven pizza flaming in the back, it all had me smiling. And let’s be serious, I’m not the easiest person to impress!
My happiness continued as we sat at the bar and ordered a $7 glass of Prosecco on tap. You read that right, $7, and on tap. Graffiato can no longer claim they are the only restaurant in DC with Prosecco on tap. It wasn’t the most acidic Prosecco I’ve had (I like a bit more bite to my drink than this offered), but it was still delicious. We were also welcomed with a shot of the housemade limoncello. And seriously, it’s made in one of the owners houses. Well, it was. They now make it at the restaurant, but we were told that many a batch was prepared in a part-owner’s house, requiring much effort to keep his 2-year-old from eating the alcohol rich lemon peels!
As we moved to the table, my friend Jackie joined us. For appetizers we tried the mussels and the crostino. The mussels were served in a red tomato based broth with white wine and garlic. The sauce had a bit of a bite, which was much welcomed. The product was clearly fresh and steamed to perfection. I also loved the fresh herbs that added to the flavor palate. This may be on my list of best mussels in DC, but a second slice of grilled bread would have been nice to sop up the leftover broth. The crostino was good. Crusty bread with buffalo mozzarella and roasted red peppers. Nothing phenomenal or different, but a solid appetizer.
Next we moved on to the tagliatelle Bolognese. As you know, we made a similar dish for one of our Tiny Dinner Parties, so I am always interested to taste others take on the dish. The pasta was fresh – hand-made in the kitchen - and it was apparent. The long strands of noodles were bathed in the meat sauce featuring pork shoulder and veal. I never ate veal until I tried Bolognese. These are true words coming out of my Italian mouth. I now hold a secret love for the meat. (Back story: I grew up in
There are a lot of veal farms in Lancaster, PA. . Baby cows chained to their pens makes me sad, and the thought of eating the meat was unbearable for many years. Until I tried Bolognese and that went to pot). I digress. The sauce was extremely flavorful. Notes of the meat came through in every bite, strong and prevalent. Next time I will not be sharing this with two other people. Lancaster
Onto the pizzas. I ordered a pizza featuring gorgonzola, apple, and pork cheek (guanciale). Normally I do not love meat on my pizza. I decided to branch out. The flavors were surprising, but delicious. The gorgonzola did not overpower, as I expected. The meat was a bit stronger than I expected (almost like a more flavorful bacon), but worked well with the cheese. The apples were sliced so thin, that I almost forgot they were there. I think this actually worked in the dish’s favor because their sweetness was just an undertone to the dish rather than a dominating flavor.
Adam ordered the prosciutto pizza with arugula and fontina cheese. It was just as good as everything else, though the slices were cut awkwardly, leaving tiny slices and huge slices. The shredded fontina tossed with the fresh arugula was a perfect balance to the salty meat. The only drawback was that the arugula was piled on so high that it made it hard to see where the prosciutto was, making it hard to get all of the flavors in each bite.
Jackie ordered the squash blossom pizza. Apparently, squash blossom is the flower that exists before it blooms into a full blown squash. Jackie assumed it was actual squash, and was surprised when the server explained this. Skeptical, she decided to give it a try since it featured pesto and buffalo mozzarella. When the pizza came out, she was glad she took the risk. The dough was crisp yet chewy, the perfect combination. Although she couldn't taste much of the squash blossom flower, the flavors of the pesto, mozzarella and tomato were exceptional. She could tell the ingredients were fresh from that day. Overall this is one of the best pizzas Jackie has ever had!
One thing about all the pizzas that I must mention….the dough. Oh, how could I forget the dough. The fermented, cooked to perfection pizza dough was some of the best I’ve had in DC. The birck oven prep definitely did its job. I quickly dubbed it far superior to 2Amy’s up the street. Seriously I do not get the hype with that place.
I loved learning that the Arcuri menu is that it is in constant evolution. They tailor the menu to what is in season and they don’t have a freezer. Maybe this is more common than I am aware of, but I was pretty blown away by this fact. We got some insider tips that a 14oz bone in pork chop and a prosciutto wrapped cod (yes please!) may be appearing on the menu soon…along with a few more dessert additions. Currently, the only dessert offered is a fresh strawberry, marscapone, and sabe dish with graham cracker crumbs. Adam also ordered a limoncello slushy swirl, combining both strawberry and lemon flavors, into a perfect adult treat. Acuri, welcome to DC. You do good food proud. Stellar space, people and food. I will see you again soon.