Browsing Tag

Mike Isabella



January 3, 2014

How 15 DC chefs and bartenders battled the bulge and made the world a healthier place
By Francine Cohen

Beet radish

Just as ubiquitous as the seasonal songs you hear in every holiday commercial this time of year is the rush for predictions, charitable donations, and resolutions that will surely make your world, and the world, a better place in the new year. 2014 will be no different.

There will always be plenty of ways that you, as hospitality industry leaders, will be asked to give. And let’s be honest, it gets a bit redundant. But it doesn’t have to be the same old same old. You probably feel like Chef RJ Cooper ( does as he remarks, “The dine around pass food over a table formula is tired, old and just cramped. A new concept of making mobile kitchens in venues so chefs can cook for 3 tables of 10 etc. would be much more fun.”

No reason you can’t have fun while doing good. Maybe this is the year it happens and you’ll be inspired to take a page out of the book of some Washington, DC based chefs and bartenders who found fun and healthy living through charity work in 2013. Last year, while supporting the American Cancer Society by co-chairing the Society’s annual signature culinary, wine and spirits event, Taste of Hope (, the Restaurateur/chef Mike Isabella ( rallied 15 Washington, D.C. chefs and mixologists for the inaugural Fit for Hope weight loss challenge.

The 12-week challenge kicked off on June 24th and culminated on September 24th at Taste of Hope. According to the Society, the latest recommendations for adults call for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, or an equivalent combination, preferably spread throughout the week.

Faced with an invitation to support a new (to DC) charity event they turned what could have been just another “let me show up and park myself behind a white tablecloth draped 6 ft. long table and hand out food and drink while smiling and promoting my restaurant/bar” experience into something much more personally meaningful- for them and the charity they supported. While dropping pounds, each participating chef and mixologist was also charged with raising a minimum $2,500 during the 12 weeks and many turned to Continue Reading…



March 30, 2012

The evolving world of online restaurant reservations

Sharon Harris-Zlotnick

As advancing technology replaces traditional telecommunications with online connectivity, phone reservations may become passé in the future. Can you imagine that something as common as calling for restaurant reservations could soon be “so “yesterday”?

Today online reservations technology opportunities abound. The future of reservations is being studied by Professor Sheryl Kimes of Cornell University and Katherine Kies who conducted an online research study of 472 consumers in 2011 titled The Role of Multi-Restaurant Reservation Sites in Restaurant Distribution Management. The survey should help restaurateurs evaluate the value of an online system.

Their research revealed that among U.S. adults, 55 percent had used an online service, up 24 percent from 2010; 95 percent reserved by phone, 48.5 percent utilized a restaurant’s individual website, 30 percent reserved through a multi-restaurant site, with another 16.5 percent using that site’s mobile app. The dining public has not yet completely embraced Internet reservations, but the numbers are growing.

Online reservations are typically free to dining customers; restaurants usually pay a flat monthly fee and possibly a per-diner charge. Savvy operators should do the math before contracting a service. Most offer similar software capabilities, so pricing, service and network could make the difference.

In the U.S., currently dominates, but several alternative systems have launched their own programs. Established in San Francisco in 1998, OpenTable’s purpose was to expedite reservations using specific times, date, cuisine and pricing criteria. A rewards program allows consumers to accumulate points for future dining discounts after achieving specific point levels.

Listed on the NASDAQ, OpenTable contracts with over 25,000 restaurant locations in most U.S. states, plus Canada, Germany, Japan and Mexico. OpenTable also operates Continue Reading…



August 5, 2011

Call it The Clubhouse, call it delicious, it doesn’t matter. Just know you’ll want to call it. All night.

Photo courtesy of Bisnow Media

By Francine Cohen

Common wisdom indicates that if it’s so hot that lightning crackles through the sky and a deluge of water soaks our nation’s capital for at least 45 minutes, it’s probably too hot to be contemplating firing up the pizza oven. Unless of course, you’re a chef with a new restaurant.

So, on July 11th, an intrepid group of food journalists, chefs, friends, family and hospitality industry folks braved the heat, and the storm that followed the Fancy Food Show (, to head over to DC’s Chinatown neighborhood for an oven-warming; a party to celebrate the opening of Chef Mike Isabella’s restaurant, Graffiato ( 707 6th Street, NW).

With the fire blazing and chefs busy in the kitchen Isabella and his team turned out a delicious menu of:
Fried Pork Belly Ravioli
Parmesan Arancini
Assorted pizzas
Olli Speck
Salumeria Bailesse Culatello
La quarcia Procuttio Americano
Ceringolla Olives
House Stretched Mozz
Tuna Crudo with pine nut relish
Scallop Crudo with fennel
Pork Fried almonds
Local assorted cheeses

While GM James Horn oversaw the bar and offered up refreshing glasses of wine, beer and some signature Ilegal ( mezcal cocktails.

Not to be found on the menu that night were Isabella’s signature Chicken Thighs with Pepperoni Sauce, pillowy soft agnolotti, or his hearty bone marrow presentation. But you can try them all when you manage to snag a table, upstairs or down, next time you’re in town.


Critical Distance: The New Rules For Restaurant Reviews—There Are No Rules

August 4, 2011

This story by Chris Shott ( appeared on and is a thoughtful piece by about reviewing restaurants.

Akin to our story which ran a few months back (, the question still remains, when is it fair to review a restaurant? And what are restaurateurs, chefs, and publicists doing to change the landscape and the entire equation in this age of “new” media?

Bottom line folks, there’s no whining in baseball! Let’s work together.