Award-winning Washington, D.C. chef and restaurateur Mike Isabella will open Isabella Eatery, an unprecedented nine-restaurant food emporium at Tysons Galleria, in phases beginning December 11. The 41,000-square-foot dining complex is home to eight distinct fast-casual and full-service offerings, a cocktail bar and a private event space, each with a dedicated kitchen, and an entirely unique footprint, menu and high-style design. The complete operation, sprawled across a significant portion of the luxury retail outlet’s third floor, will be up-and-running by year’s end. Mike Isabella Concepts (MIC) is the sole proprietor of the space, which showcases the restaurateur’s full portfolio with adaptations of existing restaurants, as well as first-time ventures.
“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 says. “It’s something that hasn’t been done before on this level, particularly by a single operator, and I don’t think it would be possible without the talented group of chefs, managers and beverage professionals we have at MIC. I’m excited to show guests our take on the popular food hall trend.”
Culinary director Joe Palma oversees menu development and kitchen operations for Isabella Eatery’s dining outposts, which range from fast casual and upscale dining to carry-out and full-service offsite catering. The food emporium additionally houses MIC’s first in-house kitchen dedicated solely to bread and pastry production.
“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. With a single operator leading the way, we’re able to ensure the quality and consistency that people have come to expect from MIC, while introducing a new, dynamic dining destination to the region’s food scene.”
Italian-inspired sharable plates, antipasti boards, handmade pastas and focaccia pizzas are the stars 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.
Nonfiction Coffee, MIC’s debut coffee shop, is a name Isabella uses to call legitimacy to his coffee program, which features beans from artisan roasters, pour-over coffees highlighting different regions and styles, specialty espresso beverages and a selection of teas. Opening at 7am daily, Nonfiction Coffee is the first concept accessible from two-story canopied elevators that whisk guests directly from Isabella Eatery’s street entrance inside, where they’re greeted by fully stocked pastry cases, warm focaccia paninis, acai and chia puddings, salads, co-branded Jrink juices and more.
This modern take on an ice cream parlor and soda shop of the 1950s forms the sweet core of Isabella Eatery’s offerings, scooping out seasonally changing ice creams and sorbets in a crisp, compact setting. These classic and contemporary flavors are the base of sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, banana splits, pre-packed cartons and house-made waffle cones stippled with imaginative toppings. Egg creams, shakes and floats also allow for simple sipping while strolling through the eatery.
As a counterpart to Isabella’s lauded D.C. restaurant, the 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. Reservations for this restaurant are available.
A key differentiator from conventional food halls, this 120-seat common area offers guests full-service dining with a consolidated menu of signature items from Arroz, Octagon Bar, Pepita, Requin Oysters & Champagne and Yona. Reservations are also available.
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. Retails 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 from beverage director Taha Ismail, alongside a selection of dishes curated from the Dining Hall concepts, including a full raw bar and steaks.
Like its sister in Arlington, Va., this cantina serves Mexican staples like tacos, nachos, quesadillas and burritos. The full-service bar also offers a small Mexican beer selection, a robust tequila lineup, classic and frozen margaritas.
Private Dining Room
An emerald-hued enclosed event space for up to 60 guests, the private dining area at Isabella Eatery features a grand private entryway and a working fireplace
Requin Oysters & Champagne
Oysters, seafood cocktails, crudos and tartares anchor the menu at Isabella Eatery’s 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.
A departure from the ramen-centric menu at its original Arlington, Va. location, the next iteration of Yona focuses on sushi, sashimi, poke bowls and other Japanese small plates served alongside sake.
Working with Streetsense, an integrated design and architecture firm, the team developed a look and feel for the massive complex 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, which vary from the pressed-tin tiles and neon sign ushering guests to Retro Creamery’s counter, to the arched cutout booths and cushioned eggplant-colored seating in the Dining Hall, to the built-in retail shelves flanking Arroz’s herringbone-patterned wood sangria bar.
Other standout features include hand-painted murals from local artist Cory Bernart—one nodding to the Capitol dome present in signage throughout Isabella Eatery and laser-cut into metal screens looking into the private dining room, and the other a vintage map covering a wall at Kapnos Marketa – as well as a larger-than-life emerald green door enclosing the private dining space, a living wall of greenery in Nonfiction Coffee, and a number of custom light installations, among them a 25-foot wide, 5,000-pound tower of illuminated rings in Graffiato.
On top of its interior access to shoppers within the galleria, Isabella Eatery offers dedicated outdoor escalators bringing guests directly to the main entry from the parking lot. MIC conceived this two-story canopied entrance by removing the existing exterior wall of the shopping center.