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Mike Isabella announces (surprise!) two new restaurants


Top Chef Mike Isabella will open two new restaurants in D.C. (Greg Powers)

(Update (March 8): Isabella’s team gave us the wrong address for Kapnos and G. It’s actually on the other side of the corner on 14th Street NW. This post has been updated.)

Not only is the buzz about Mike Isabella opening a Greek outpost on the corner of 14th and W streets NW confirmed today, the former Top Chef contestant and creator of Graffiato says he plans to open a second spot to eat right next door.

Fans will have to wait for a taste, however. Isabella says he hopes to begin construction on Kapnos, the 150-seat Greek idea, and G, a 45-seat operation serving soup and sandwiches by day and a tasting menu by night, this fall. Ideally, the two projects, covering about 7,000 square feet at 2201 14th St. NW 1326 W St. NW, will open simultaneously in 2013.

Kapnos (Greek for smoke) will be the Greek restaurant Isabella says he’s always wanted to do. The main attraction will be two wood-burning grills with five spits each, for cooking whole animals: lamb, goat, suckling pig, chicken and duck.

Yes, there will be Greek small plates but no, they won’t repeat those at Zaytinya, where the New Jersey native once served as executive chef. Overseeing the kabobs, savory pies and made-to-order flatbreads at Kapnos will be George Pagonis, a Zaytinya alumnus who is returning to Washington from Aureole in New York.

The neighboring G will highlight the classic Italian dishes – chicken parmesan, meatball hero, veal cutlet – Isabella recalls from his youth. At night, a four-course tasting menu, starting with antipasti and continuing with pasta and a choice of fish or meat, will be offered for $40. The restaurateur has selected Graffiato sous chef Elliot Drew to step up to the plate in the smaller establishment.

Meanwhile, Bandolero, Isabella’s Mexican-themed dining room in Georgetown, is targeted to launch by May 5 — Cinco de Mayo.

So, chef, how are you going to focus on everything — including the cookbook, “Mike Isabella’s Crazy Good Italian,” set for this fall?

The celebrity chef has tapped another former colleague, Steve Uhr, to serve as director of operations for his myriad projects beginning April 1. Uhr has worked for Think Food Group in Washington and the Starr Restaurant Operation in Philadelphia, among other high-profile businesses.

Are Kapnos and G the end of the chef’s empire-building? “After this,” says Isabella, “I’m taking a break.”

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