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Michael Rafidi Reveals Plans For His First Restaurant Since Leaving Isabella

Washingtonian reports he’ll cook Middle Eastern food in Navy Yard

Chef Michael Rafidi in the kitchen Rey Lopez for Eater DC

Michael Rafidi, the Eater D.C. chef of the year in 2017 who won acclaim for his work at Requin and Arroz, plans to open a Middle Eastern restaurant in Navy Yard next summer.

Washingtonian reports that Rafidi, who announced in April he was resigning from Mike Isabella Concepts to strike out on his own, will collaborate with sommelier Brent Kroll on Albi, a restaurant fueled by a charcoal- and wood-burning hearth. Kroll, who owns Maxwell Park wine bar in Shaw, will also work with Rafidi to open Maxwell’s second location next door to Albi in The Yards development.

Albi means “my heart” in Arabic. Washingtonian reports the menu will feature food influenced by Rafidi’s family in Eastern Mediterranean countries including Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. Building a restaurant around timeless hearth cooking has proven to be a recipe for success for two of Washington’s essential 38 restaurants: Eater national tabbed Maydan as one of America’s 18 best new restaurants this year, and Jeremiah Langhorne claimed a James Beard award at the Dabney in May.

Rafidi told Eater in March that his exit from Isabella Concepts was not related to a sexual harassment suit (now settled) facing the company’s namesake. Rafidi said then he planned to take time off to travel before his next project.