Press Club

Kapnos Taverna Opens in Ballston Tomorrow

“Top Chef” contestant Mike Isabella’s first restaurant venture in Arlington is finally opening its doors tomorrow (Tuesday).

Kapnos Taverna was announced September 2013 and planned for summer 2014. As most openings in the local restaurant industry go, delays pushed Kapnos Taverna’s debut back significantly — Isabella said they were waiting for the building at 4000 Wilson Blvd to finish construction.

The two-story 165-seat restaurant will feature small plates of largely southern and coastal Greek food. (Kapnos in the District, sister eatery to the new Ballston location, specializes in northern Greek fare.)

Isabella said he wants people to think beyond gyros and souvlaki when they think of Greek food.

“My goal is to tell people what Greek food is,” he told ARLnow.com while taste-testing dishes last week. “I want to show people aspects of the cuisine people aren’t aware of. There’s so much more to it than people think.”

The menu for Kapnos Taverna includes shellfish “platters” and “towers” for $75 and $125, respectively, and Isabella said the sauces and spreads are being brought over from Kapnos. The small plates range in price from $6 to $15 and tables can also order spit-roasted chickens — one of Isabella’s favorite menu items, along with the swordfish kebabs — and full lamb shoulders.

There will be a full cocktail program, four beers on tap as well as a moschofilero white wine on tap.

Two more Isabella-owned restaurants in Kapnos Taverna’s building will soon be opening. Pepita, the Mexican cantina that Isabella calls more “drink-centric” is in the pipeline for this spring. Yona, a restaurant that will specialize in ramen, won’t have Isabella behind the menu and plans to open this summer.

“We’re going to focus on these three concepts for a while,” Isabella said. “This is going to be our hub, and after opening these, we’re probably done in Arlington for a while.”

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