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Mike Isabella grows brand

Mike Isabella is having a busy 2017. So far, his Washington, D.C.-based Mike Isabella Concepts has opened two restaurants – Arroz and Kapnos Taverna – with two more on the way – Requin and the expansive Isabella Eatery.  By Nicole L. Gill

Cover photo shoot of Mike Isabella showcases Arroz at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. Photographer Jerald Council. Videographer Nathaniel Council.

I have moved into more of a restaurateur role coming up with the concepts, the vision and design for new projects.
— Mike Isabella

Mike Isabella, the former “Top Chef” contestant and 2016 Restaurateur of the Year, is gearing up to open the 41,000-square-foot eatery in Tysons Galleria in suburban Virginia this fall. The eatery will encompass most of the third level of the upscale mall. 

“We’ve got eight distinct concepts, a cocktail bar and a private dining space,” said Isabella. “There is nothing else like it, and it’s going to be a monster project.”

In addition to Isabella Eatery, Isabella is opening another Requin restaurant in the new Wharf DC neighborhood. The Southwest D.C. restaurant “will be the only freestanding restaurant in the new neighborhood’s massive complex,” he said. The original Requin, in the Mosaic District in Merrifield, Va., is more of a brasserie, Isabella said, while the location at the Wharf “will be more upscale.”

Arroz – at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. – debuted in March with an emphasis on Spanish and Moroccan cuisine. Isabella said the dishes have received a warm welcome from natives of the two countries.

"You've got to try the bombas, our signature rice dishes," said Mike Isabella. Here, Arroz's aged duck bomba rice.

"You've got to try the bombas, our signature rice dishes," said Mike Isabella. Here, Arroz's aged duck bomba rice.

“Our guests from Spain and Morocco particularly love our spice work and the creativity we bring to the menu,” he said.

With nearly 10 restaurants under his belt, Isabella faces comparisons to one of his former bosses – José Andrés.

“I’ve worked under a lot of great chefs and restaurateurs including José Andrés, Jose Garces, Marcus Samuelsson and Stephen Starr. I think I've learned something about how to run restaurants from each one of them.”

"The geometric shapes, keyhole archways and coffered ceilings are elements you'll see in Morocco and Southern Spain," Mike Isabella said.

"The geometric shapes, keyhole archways and coffered ceilings are elements you'll see in Morocco and Southern Spain," Mike Isabella said.

Tomato & Cucumber Salad at Arroz

Tomato & Cucumber Salad at Arroz

Foie gras parfait with sesame butter, macerated stonefruit, burnt honey, ras el hanout doughnut at Arroz

Foie gras parfait with sesame butter, macerated stonefruit, burnt honey, ras el hanout doughnut at Arroz

 Burnt eggplant with Moroccan flat bread, za'atar, pine nut, black garlic at Arroz

Burnt eggplant with Moroccan flat bread, za'atar, pine nut, black garlic at Arroz

Isabella Eatery will be on the third floor of Tysons Galleria in Virginia

Isabella Eatery will be on the third floor of Tysons Galleria in Virginia

Isabella Eatery opens in fall 2017

Isabella Eatery opens in fall 2017

"I'm excited, a little nervous and just anxious to get it opened." - Mike Isabella