Mike Isabella’s Kapnos opens July 5

Kapnos, the long-awaited tribute to northern Greece from chef Mike Isabella, has begun taking reservations for July 5.

For his third local restaurant, the Graffiato owner and Bandolero partner will feature a parade of hot and cold mezze and whole animals cooked on “two monster grills.” Picture suckling pigs, goat, lamb, chicken and octopus, plus an “Old World feel” in the multi-level dining room and bar at 2201 14th St. NW.


(Greg Powers)

Unlike many traditional Greek restaurants, Isabella says Kapnos will play down seafood and elevate earth tones. “No white. No blue,” he says, describing the 160-seat interior of stone, wood and lighting crafted from suspended wine glasses and bottles.

“Touristy” types of dishes, such as moussaka and spanakopita, will be offered only as daily specials and then as “cleaned up” versions: Taramosalata, the pink whip of fish roe and mashed potato, will be made using steamed cauliflower puree, for instance. Another starter, hummus, will incorporate raisin chutney.

Fish won’t be impossible to catch. Share plates will include branzino crudo; entrees will run to salt-baked dorade. The menu also will include a Greek salad. “What I eat all the time,” Isabella says.

The future restaurant translates as “smoke” in Greek. “We’re working with a lot of wood” in the kitchen, says Isabella, who is joined in his latest project by chef de cuisine George Pagonis, his former sous chef at Zaytinya, and George’s brother Nick Pagonis, a former manager at Graffiato. The siblings are the sons of Greek immigrants, and both speak Greek.


(Greg Powers)

(Greg Powers)
Weaned on a beige buffet a la “Fargo” in Minnesota, Tom Sietsema is the food critic for The Washington Post. This is his second tour of duty at the Post. Sietsema got his first taste in the ‘80s, when he was hired by his predecessor to answer phones, write some, and test the bulk of the Food section’s recipes. That’s how he learned to clean squid, bake colonial cakes and distinguish between nutmeg and mace.
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Fritz Hahn | June 25, 2013