Bandolero is the second restaurant for Washington, D.C. chef, Mike Isabella. The modern Mexican concept is situated in the heart of Georgetown with a high-energy vibe and taco-centric menu to match the bustling neighborhood.
Chef Isabella is also the Chef/Owner of Graffiato, which opened in June 2011 in the Chinatown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The 130-seat Italian-inspired spot features small plates, locally cured meats, artisanal pizzas and pastas with seasonal ingredients influenced by the food Chef Isabella grew up eating in New Jersey prepared by his Italian American grandmother.
Recently, Chef Isabella was named FOOD & WINE’S The People’s Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic winner for 2012.
Before opening Graffiato, Chef Isabella was the executive chef of Jose Andres’ Zaytinya. During his three-year tenure Chef Isabella generated accolades and national attention for Washington, D.C.’s Mediterranean powerhouse restaurant.
Chef Isabella’s formal training began at The Restaurant School in New York, taking classes and cooking his way through some of New York City’s finest establishments. After honing his skills in the Big Apple, he travelled down the coast to Philadelphia, first as a sous chef for James Beard award winner Douglas Rodriguez at Alma de Cuba, then a host of other Stephen Starr restaurants. At El Vez, Chef Isabella learned the true craft of Latin cuisine under the direction of Jose Garces, and as Executive Sous Chef of Marcus Samuelsson’s Washington Square, Mike educated himself on the strenuous yet exciting task of opening a fine dining establishment.
While Philadelphia proved to be an incredible learning experience and launching ground, Chef Isabella still needed to find his niche. That niche came when he moved to Atlanta and joined Buckhead Life Group’s top-notch Greek restaurant, Kyma. As Chef de Cuisine of the seafood-inspired menu, Chef Isabella learned the slight flavors and techniques of Greek cooking, as well as immersing himself in the traditions of one of the oldest cuisines in the world. While travelling through Greece and parts of the Middle East, Chef Isabella learned the nuances of these cuisines. Talking to locals and sifting through the daily markets gave Chef Isabella a chance to truly understand these foods, and helped to form a base for his culinary imagination.
Outside the kitchen, Chef Isabella appeared on Season Six of Top Chef and he was the runner-up on Top Chef All-Stars. In fall 2012, he published his first cookbook with Da Capo Lifelong Books titled, Mike Isabella’s Crazy Good Italian. In the summer 2013, Chef Isabella plans to open Kapnos, a Greek concept with an Italian sandwich shop, G, next door. These will be his third and fourth restaurants in Washington, D.C. Chef Isabella is also working on a restaurant concept to open soon in New Jersey, G Grab n Go, with his sister, Diana.