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Celebrity chef Mike Isabella opening restaurant in College Park

Celebrity chef Mike Isabella is bringing his Greek eats to College Park.

Isabella is opening Kapnos Taverna in the Hotel at the University of Maryland. The restaurant, which also has a location in Arlington, Va., is set to open Monday.

The new Kapnos Taverna at 7777 Baltimore Ave. will seat 143 guests within a 4,000-square-foot space.

The “Top Chef” alumnus owns a number of restaurants in the Washington, D.C., area including Arroz, G by Mike Isabella, Graffiato, Kapnos, Kapnos Kouzina, Pepita, Requin and Yona.

For the new Kapnos Taverna, Isabella teamed up with George Pagonis, executive chef and partner at all of the Kapnos concepts.

Pagonis, who has also competed on “Top Chef,” said the hotel approached his team about bringing Kapnos Taverna to College Park. He said the restaurant will work to cater to students with options like delivery, $15 express lunches and game day bar specials, while also providing a refined atmosphere for professors to come and enjoy a bottle of wine over a nice meal.

“Every Kapnos that we open up we try to adjust to the neighborhood we’re in,” Pagonis said. “We just kind of try to play to the audience a little bit and for the college, for the college campus, we want to try to accommodate the kids as much as possible, get them in the door, but at the same time we have to maintain our standards. We also want to provide a place for the professors to come.”

The menu will center on Greek island cuisine, including vegetables and seafood typical of the Greek coast, with appetizers that start around $8 and shareable entrees in the $35 range.

Kapnos Taverna will offer an extensive list of Greek mezze, including crispy brussels sprouts with butternut squash, octopus Santorini and roasted pork shoulder with apple, mostarda and tahini. The restaurant will also serve shareable plates from the Kapnos Kouzina menu, including spit-roasted whole animals. Entrees include lamb shoulder and whole-grilled branzino for the table.

“It’s our fourth Kapnos,” Pagonis said. “After all these years we have a nice repertoire of dishes.”

While the menu will mirror the first Kapnos Taverna’s offerings, the new restaurant will not have a raw bar.

The beverage program will incorporate cocktails infused with Mediterranean spices and poured over hand-carved ice. A 120-bottle wine selection will focus on Greek wines, and the bar will have six beer taps, including one for the newly released Mike Isabella Concepts Saison by 3 Stars Brewing Co.

Frank Ortiz will serve as the restaurant’s general manager, and Taha Ismail is the beverage director.

“I’m excited to introduce the College Park community to our take on the flavors of the Greek coast,” Isabella said in a statement. “Being part of the hotel and having a presence on the University of Maryland campus is especially rewarding as everyone connected to the school has such a strong sense of pride. Terp alumni are loyal fans for life.”

The restaurant will be open for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and dinner 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The bar will close one hour after the kitchen each night, and the restaurant will offer happy hour daily from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Kapnos Taverna is now accepting reservations for dinner, and lunch and brunch service will begin in the first week of October.

smeehan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sarahvmeehan

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