Chef Mike Isabella announced earlier this month his plans to open Isabella Eatery, a massive 10-concept, 41,000-square-foot, 600-seat dining complex in the Tysons II Galleria on the third level, near luxury stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Prada, the Post first reported. The food hall will take over the former Piazza di Giorgio space with an anticipated opening of summer 2017, will include variations of existing Isabella restaurants, including his Italian flagship Graffiato, his spit-roasting Greek restaurant Kapnos, his Mexican cantina Pepita, pop-up with fellow Top Chef Alum Jennifer Carroll Requin, and Yona, the Japanese and Korean restaurant guided by chef Jonah Kim. In addition, he will bring new concepts as well including: Arroz (Spanish tapas), Octagon Bar (“prohibition-style” classic cocktails), Non-Fiction Coffee (cafe with sandwiches, soups, salads, and pastries), Retro Creamery (ice cream parlor and soda shop), and Trim (Mediterranean grill). As a protege of Chef José Andrés, within his new eatery Arroz, Isabella is trying his hand at what his mentor does best: Spanish tapas and paella. With Trim, hopefully Isabella will surely bring back some of his favorites from his time at Zaytinya.
Isabella told the Post, “What we do at Kapnos. What we do at Graffiato. What we do at G sandwich. What we do at Yona,” Isabella continues. “It’s the same mentality. I want to incorporate the same steps of service, the same level of food, the same everything that we do in our 5,000-square-foot or our 1,500-square-foot” restaurants. He adds, “I have a big plate.This is the biggest move of my career. I’m excited, nervous.” Aren’t we all?! Well … not exactly. Sorry, Mike.
There have been many mixed emotions and responses from locals (and foodies) when hearing about the news. Those who are excited recall that food emporiums are already all the rage, with the likes of Eataly, Latinicity from Richard Sandoval and Jose Garces in Chicago, and Anthony Bourdain‘s epic food market in New York. While others insist it could only be mediocre at best. Some have already made comments that the prices for fare at the Eatery will be quadruple of normal “food court” options.
A 300-seat common area will service half of the concepts, while others will be enclosed with dedicated seating. The emporium’s common area will be served by:
Arroz – The Spanish concept will showcase a menu of tapas, paella and cured meats.
Octagon Bar – Located near the center of the dining area, Octagon Bar will overhang the Mall’s lower level and serve an extensive list of prohibition-style classic cocktails.
Pepita – A sister to the original cantina in Arlington, Va., Pepita will serve Mexican dishes like tacos, nachos and quesadillas. The full-service bar will also offer a small Mexican beer selection, classic and frozen margaritas.
Requin Raw Bar – The emporium’s raw bar will serve a variety of oysters, seafood cocktails and crab cakes along with a selection of Champagnes and white wines. Caviar and cured fish will also be available for retail purchase.
Yona – A sister to the original location in Arlington, Va., this Japanese/Korean noodle bar will focus on quick and easy meals, with a menu highlighted by ramen, poke and donburri rice bowls.
The Isabella Eatery concepts with enclosed or dedicated seating will be:
Graffiato – Isabella’s flagship Italian restaurant comes to Tysons Galleria with a selection of Graffiato favorites, along with a new list of paninis and a thick-crust style of pizza that is a cross between traditional Sicilian and focaccia pizza.
Kapnos Marketa – This marketplace will offer house-made Greek staples and spit-roasted meat for take-home dining only. Greek spreads and specialty items like taramasalata, melitzanosalata, dolmades, salads and phyllo pies will be wrapped and available to-go, along with lamb, pork and chicken sold by the pound.
Non-Fiction Coffee – The first coffee shop from MIC will feature beans from artisan roasters in a casual, lounge-like environment. Non-Fiction will also serve sandwiches, soups, salads, pastries and fresh juices.
Retro Creamery – This creamery will be a modern take on ice cream parlors and soda shops of the 1950s. Think egg creams, floats and ice cream available by the scoop in brightly lit display cases. Ice cream will also be sold in pre-packed cartons.
Trim – This upscale, full-service enclosed restaurant will feature a menu of Mediterranean small plates and grill favorites. Since this space will function like a traditional restaurant in an enclosed dining space, guests will not have access to the full Isabella Eatery menu. Trim will also be available for private events.
The new space is being designed by Streetsense and will include a top-to-bottom renovation of the old food court and third floor. Each concept will have its own look. Exterior changes include an escalator that leads guests into an atrium where Non-Fiction Coffee will be. One 10,000-square foot kitchen led by an as-of-yet-to-be-named executive chef will serve all the Isabella Eatery concepts.
The atrium-like will have a green wall and trees with a Washington-area map painted by a local artist over exposed brick. Natural wood and complementary geometric patterns inspired by classic D.C. architecture are unifying elements of the design, while each area will have different seating.
Isabella Eatery joins The Cheesecake Factory, Lebanese Taverna, Legal Sea Foods, Maggiano’s, P.F. Chang’s, Wildfire, Starbucks, Paul Bakery and Danielle’s Desserts at the upscale shopping center. Only time will tell what the new eatery will bring. Are you looking forward to the new Eatery?