Graffiato's Industry Takeover Nights, which have brought some of the country's best chefs to the Chinatown restaurant and raised thousands of dollars for charity every month, will end in January after the event's second anniversary celebration. Owner Mike Isabella plans to replace the affairs with a series of special "food and art pairing dinners," beginning in February, which will have "a different feeling" than anything else he's done, he says.
"I always want to do something new," Isabella explains. "It's been a great ride. We've had really great food and really great parties. … A lot of people are doing [similar industry takeovers] now, so let's do something new and go out on top."
For the grand finale on Jan. 5, Isabella is keeping everything in-house, featuring chefs from across his mini-empire, known as Mike Isabella Concepts. Jonah Kim of the forthcoming Yona, George Pagonis of Kapnos and Elliot Drew of G Sandwich are among the five chefs preparing dishes that will be handed out or passed to all attendees. While you probably won't find them making the same items that are on their regular menus, Isabella says they'll be preparing similar cuisines: "You're going to see Mexican, you're going to see Greek."
Taha Ismail, who creates drink menus for the whole family of restaurants, will be behind the bar with Scotty Holland of Kapnos, creating the cocktails. (While the food is all-you-can-eat, beverages generally cost $4 to $5 each.)
As usual, doors open at 10 p.m., and the anniversary party will take over both floors of the Sixth Street NW restaurant. Admission is $10 at the door, and half of the proceeds will be donated to Fit to Fight, a charity founded by Isabella that encourages chefs and restaurant industry workers to lose weight.
In February, Isabella's first food-and-art-pairing dinner will be inspired by the music and rivalry of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. Dishes from the five-course "East Coast vs. West Coast: Biggie & Tupac Tribute Dinner" aren't meant to be taken too seriously: They include "Blood money" sausage with "Lil Kimchee"; a "Grape Dutch"-smoked New York strip steak with cheesy polenta and a farm egg; and smoked West Coast salmon with chickpea and a "Juicy" apple salad. Desert starts with milk chocolate "blunts." (
The full menu is here. UPDATE: The menu was taken offline after Twitter users complained it was offensive.)
While diners chow down, a DJ will spin tracks by Biggie, 'Pac and their contemporaries. "I grew up in that era and listened to a lot of hip-hop," Isabella says. He plans to switch up the music and art elements every time: "It could be different table settings, or putting new artwork up on the walls … It's about changing the feeling of what it's like to be in the restaurant. It's going to evolve, just like Industry Night evolved."
Tickets for the 8 p.m. dinner are $65, exclusive of tax or gratuity, and seating is limited. Call 202-289-3600 for reservations.
Graffiato, 707 Sixth St. NW (Metro: Gallery Place-Chinatown). 202-289-3600. www.graffiatodc.com.
This post was updated Dec. 18 at 4:57 p.m.