Mike Isabella

Mike Isabella is a Washington, D.C.-based chef and restaurateur, honored in 2016 by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington as Restaurateur of the Year. In 2011, Isabella opened Graffiato to critical acclaim. He now has nine restaurants in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with additional outposts in Nationals Park and Ronald Reagan National Airport. This year, Isabella will open three more full-service restaurants and a concept in Baltimore-Washington International Airport, along with a food emporium in Fairfax, Virginia. Isabella Eatery will be an unprecedented nine-concept dining experience spanning 41,000 square feet in Tysons Galleria, a luxury retail outlet in Northern Virginia.

In 2012, Isabella was named FOOD & WINE magazine’s The People’s Best New Chef Mid-Atlantic. Mike Isabella’s Crazy Good Italian is his first cookbook, also published in 2012.

Outside the kitchen, Isabella was a judge on “Man vs. Child: Chef Showdown” on FYI. Previously, he competed on Season Six of Top Chef, and Top Chef Duels, and he was the runner-up on Top Chef All-Stars. He is also a member of the American Chef Corps, a network of chefs from across the United States who serve as culinary diplomats and resources to the Department of State.

Before opening Graffiato, Isabella was the executive chef of Jose Andres’ Zaytinya. During his three-year tenure Isabella generated accolades and national attention for Washington, D.C.’s Mediterranean powerhouse restaurant.

Before settling in D.C., Isabella moved to Atlanta and found his culinary niche when he joined Buckhead Life Group’s top-notch Greek restaurant, Kyma. As chef de cuisine of the seafood-inspired menu, Isabella learned the flavors and techniques of Greek cooking.

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. Later, 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, 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, where Isabella educated himself on the art of opening a fine dining establishment.

Executive Chef

George Pagonis

George Pagonis is executive chef and partner at Kapnos, Kapnos Taverna and Kapnos Kouzina. At Kapnos, George helped put mainland Greek cuisine, including daily whole animal roasting, on the map in the nation’s capital when it opened in 2013. He competed on season 12 of the hit Bravo TV series Top Chef.

Before opening Kapnos, Chef George served as chef de cuisine at Mike Isabella’s Italian-inspired flagship, Graffiato, also in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining Graffiato, Chef George cooked at Aureole in New York under Christophe Bellanca and Marcus Ware. Before that, the fluent Greek-speaker worked at Jose Andres’ Zaytinya, where he first cooked under Mike Isabella. His first tour of duty in a fine dining kitchen was at New York’s Le Cirque. Chef George attended the University of Mary Washington, and though he followed that up with a degree from the Culinary Institute of America, he first earned his kitchen stripes at The Four Seasons, an Alexandria, Va. Greek diner owned by his father.

Chef de Cuisine

Katarina Famoso

Katarina Famoso is the chef de cuisine at Kapnos Kouzina, Mike Isabella’s third Greek concept and his first restaurant in Maryland. At Kapnos Kouzina, Famoso focuses on creating home-style Greek cuisine with an emphasis on rustic favorites and family-style plates.

Katarina has been with Mike Isabella Concepts since November 2012, and has worked her way up from line cook at Graffiato, to sous chef and pastry cook at Kapnos and G, and most recently to executive sous chef at Kapnos Taverna.

Prior to joining the MIC team, Famoso served as seasonal grill cook at the Brant Point Grill at The White Elephant in Nantucket, Massachusetts, as well as quantity food production at The Culinary Institute of America.

General Manager

Chris Boitel

Chris Boitel is the general manager of Mike Isabella’s homestyle Greek restaurant Kapnos Kouzina in Bethesda, Md. He has been part of the Mike Isabella Concepts team since 2013, most recently as assistant general manager at the popular trio of restaurants Kapnos Taverna, Pepita and Yona in Arlington, Va.

Boitel began working in restaurants at the age of 15 and continued developing his skills in the industry as a server at several prominent local establishments, including Ardeo + Bardeo and Bibiana. He was raised and currently resides in Bethesda.