Restaurant Review: G by Mike Isabella

My life is crammed with decision-making situations so when other people want to make decisions for me, I am happy to let them. I was thrilled last week when our friend Eric asked if we wanted to go to dinner with him and his amazing wife, Colleen (yes!). We could begin the night with a drink at their place? Of course! He'd made reservations at G by Mike Isabella.


The sandwich shop on upper 14th St., NW transforms into a comfy-casual trattoria on Wednesday through Sunday nights that serves a weekly-changing, four-course Italian tasting menu that does all the work for you. With few options but all of them outstanding, dinner at G was the lazy cherry on my takin'-it-easy cake.


I haven't gotten to enjoy Mr. Top Chef's food since he was executive chef at Zaytinya, so I was looking forward to G, which has been open since the summer of 2013. There's a laid-back sense when you walk into the small dining room: low lights, wooden booths and a food mural reminiscent of the parading snack-bar food advertisement they used to show at drive-ins. There was nothing laid back about the staff -- only two guys seemed to be working the full room on a busy Saturday night and they were personable, knowledgable and there when we needed them.


The only decision we had to make that had a myriad of options came at the beginning of the meal -- we were handed the drink book. We flipped through wines, beers, cocktails as well as cocktails from Kapnos next door, Mike Isabella's upscale Greek restaurant. As often happens with a practiced decision maker like myself, my choice won. The rum-and-green-tea Wandering Gypsy looked like a Christmas ornament, heaped with glittering ice in a gleaming mint julep cup.

Our exhaustion over our drink choices was balanced by the complete lack of choices we had to make for the antipasti platter. Pre-selected for us was an incredible platter of veggies and meats and fried morsels -- cauliflower balls that tasted reminiscent of Fruit Loops in a romesco sauce, proscuitto, buffalo mozzarella, frittata, pea bruschetta. 


If only all the decisions we were forced into were this delicious.

The primi and secondi courses offered two selections for each. For the primi, we chose between the zucchini-and-mint pasta or the lamb ragu. Both were rich and interesting. The secondi course offered a roasted striped bass with grilled grapes or pork crepinette, which were like sausage chunks without the casing. I really wish I could name a favorite, but each dish had its own distinct flavor and sensibility. The only way you wouldn't like it is if you inherently disliked one of the primary ingredients.

(Left) Roasted striped bass; (right) Pork crépinette

(Left) Roasted striped bass; (right) Pork crépinette

Dessert offered three options -- gasp! -- but the real treat was the cost. The tasting menu is always $40, excluding drinks, taxes and gratuity. Don't go for broke with the cocktails like we did, and two of you could get out of there for right around $100.

Take it easy and place yourself in Mike Isabella's competent hands. You won't be disappointed. 

G by Mike Isabella

2201 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

The four-course Italian tasting menu changes weekly. Check online for that week's options.