Mike Isabella launches new concepts at Tysons Galleria
Imagine a world where you can enjoy extraordinary dining, choosing from nine different concepts in one space. Now imagine that all nine are under the direction of one world-renowned restaurateur. Further consider that the chef is local, award-winning chef Mike Isabella and the dining complex is right here in Northern Virginia. You have just imagined Isabella Eatery, the 41,000-square-foot food emporium recently opened in a completely redesigned third floor of Tysons Galleria on International Drive in McLean.
As Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington 2016 Restaurateur of the Year, Mike Isabella is ready for the challenge. He is chef/owner of 13 restaurants in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area. “This project really represents the next frontier for me. Everything my team has built over the last seven years, from Graffiato and Kapnos, to Arroz and Requin, is coming together to create a brand-new type of dining experience for Northern Virginia,” Isabella said. “It’s something that hasn’t been done before on this level, and I don’t think it would be possible without the talented group of chefs, managers and beverage professionals we have at Mike Isabella Concepts (MIC).”
Working with Streetsense, an integrated design and architecture firm, the team developed a plan to offer a cohesive dining experience, while also differentiating each concept with an aesthetic reflecting its cuisine and style of service. Soaring ceilings and elaborate architectural elements unify the individual spaces. Standout features include hand-painted murals, a living wall of greenery in Nonfiction Coffee, and custom light installations, including a 25-foot wide, 5,000-pound tower of illuminated rings in Graffiato.
Isabella Eatery features adaptations of Isabella’s popular restaurants along with new works. Culinary director Joe Palma oversees menu development and kitchen operations ranging from fast-casual and upscale dining to carry-out and full-service offsite catering.
“The service aspect of Isabella Eatery is really what sets the concept of a food emporium apart from the common impression of a food hall,” Palma explained. “Guests can make reservations at several of the restaurants, they’re seated by a host, and there’s a common dining area with one menu for multiple restaurants.” A key differentiator from conventional food halls, this Dining Hall offers guests full-service dining with a consolidated menu of signature items from Arroz, Octagon Bar, Pepita, Requin Oysters & Champagne and Yona.
Many Concepts to Choose From
Isabella’s second location of Arroz offers a taste of Spain marked by classic and contemporary presentations of tapas, pintxos and bocadillos, as well as a sangria bar. Taking the place of traditional paella are pans of fluffy-meets-crunchy baked bomba rice—a dish that is purely MIC.
Graffiato offers Italian-inspired sharable plates, antipasti boards, handmade pastas and focaccia pizzas at this offshoot of Isabella’s flagship restaurant. Reservations are accepted in the full-service dining area, while a takeout window makes for easy grab-and-go eating.
Kapnos Marketa, the marketplace spinoff of Isabella’s Greek triad serves shaved meats atop customizable gyros, grain bowls and salads, spit-roasted lamb, pork, chicken and wood-grilled vegetables by the pound, spreads and other specialty items packaged for takeout. Retail goods include Kapnos-branded Greek wines and MIC’s signature saison from 3 Stars Brewing Company.
Perched on a walkway that connects the two wings of Isabella Eatery, Octagon Bar overhangs the galleria’s lower levels and serves an extensive list of prohibition-style classic cocktails alongside a selection of dishes curated from the Dining Hall concepts, including a full raw bar and steaks.
Nonfiction Coffee features beans from artisan roasters, pour-over coffees, specialty espresso beverages and a selection of teas. Opening at 7am daily, Nonfiction Coffee is accessible from two-story canopied elevators that whisk guests from Isabella Eatery’s street entrance inside, where they’re greeted by fully stocked pastry cases, warm focaccia panini, acai and chia puddings, salads, co-branded Jrink juices and more.
Like its sister in Arlington, Va., Pepita serves Mexican staples like tacos, nachos, quesadillas and burritos. The full-service bar also offers a small Mexican beer selection, a robust tequila lineup, plus classic and frozen margaritas.
Oysters, seafood cocktails, crudos and tartares anchor the menu at Requin Oysters & Champagne raw bar, which also features cooked coastal favorites like mussels, crab cakes and lobster rolls, as well as a selection of champagne and white wine. Caviar and cured fish are available for retail purchase.
Retro Creamery, a modern take on an ice cream parlor and soda shop of the 1950s, forms the sweet core of Isabella Eatery’s offerings. The classic and contemporary flavors are the base of sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, banana splits, pre-packed cartons and house-made waffle cones.
A departure from the ramen-centric menu at its Arlington location, Yona focuses on sushi, sashimi, poke bowls and other Japanese small plates served alongside sake.
With its many options, Isabella Eatery is quickly becoming a major dining destination for Tysons residents and visitors. Reservations are available via Open Table for Arroz, Graffiato, and the Dining Hall.