The nine-concept food court hopes to upend the notion of dismal mall meals.
The grand entrance, next to Saks Fifth Avenue, will make Isabella Eatery a fixture at Tysons Galleria and build easy access to the nine different eateries within the space on the mall’s third floor. Isabella gained fame on Top Chef (he ran the kitchen at Jose Andres’ Zaytinya in D.C. then), and after his season ended, announced plans for his own restaurant, Graffiato. He then morphed from the man behind-the-stove to the man behind-the-paperwork, turning into a restaurateur.
His many restaurants span the District, Maryland and Virginia with menus reaching across the globe from Europe to Asia. Here in Tysons, Isabella shape-shifts many of his concepts to fit the mall space and introduces three new players. It’s all in an effort to not just feed shoppers, but to revolt against the idea that meals at the mall are a conciliatory prize, and not a pleasure unto itself. Or as Isabella describes it, it’s “fucking Disneyland. You can get anything you want here.”
This is not a typical food court, both in options and function. Guests can make reservations (on OpenTable) at Graffiato, Arroz and the grand dining hall, a catch-all 120-seat space with a mash-up menu from Requin, Yona, Pepita, Arroz and Octagon Bar. Additionally, mall-goers can order at the different restaurants and get food to-go (the restaurant will bring the food to seated guests) and eat in the designated communal areas.
Opening in phases with Graffiato, Non-Fiction Coffee and Retro Creamery on Dec. 11, then the rest slated for the second phase. The next stage is the development of an app for easy ordering.
Where to Eat
With the Mosaic location of Requin changing from French-Mediterranean to French bistro, this version emphasizes the raw bar with a variety of oysters, crudos and tartars, plus high-end Champagne.
Where Yona debuted in Arlington as a ramen house, this Yona focuses on sushi. Expect classic rolls, plus wings, Szechuan fries, buns and poke bowls.
Pepita’s McLean menu is almost identical to the Arlington menu—one of the only concepts not rejigged—with enchiladas, tacos, nachos and margaritas.
This grand, 28-seat bar in-the-round features 50 cocktails, with an emphasis on the classics, plus a burger, lobster roll and steak with carry-over from neighbors: Requin’s shellfish tower (including caviar service) and Arroz’s charcuterie and cheese.
full service, to-go pizzas
Isabella’s first restaurant, this Italian-inspired spin-off features clams casino with uni scallop glace, pastas both on-trend and tried-and-true (fairytale squash agnolotti, cacio e pepe, gnocchi a la vodka) and Roman-style focaccia pizzas to-go.
to-go, communal seating
Right next to the entrance, this coffee shop, an original in the Isabella portfolio, plays the traditional role with a full espresso bar (and a rotating line-up of local roasters for pour overs), breakfast sandwiches (the Taylor ham option is a nod to Isabella’s New Jersey upbringing), pastries and salads.
to-go, limited seating
One of the new concepts, an ode to old-fashion soda shops, also features plenty of worldly flavors like matcha, black sesame and lychee, plus classics like Tahitian vanilla, mint chip and pistachio. Isabella insisted on a spin-off to his favorite drink with the lime, gin and tonic sorbet. There are also extravagant sundaes (Miss Piggy has pork belly ice cream with pork rind cracker jacks) and shakes, floats and egg creams.
to-go, communal seating
The fourth installment of the Kapnos brand, this operation sells spreads, cold mezze (salad, grape leaves), gyros, pydes, phyllo pies and spit-roasted meats.
With an original location in D.C., this take on the Spanish restaurant features tapas both classic, patatas bravas, and new, burnt eggplant with za’tar, pine nuts and black garlic, plus cheese and meat boards, bocadillos and entrees of steak and spit-roasted pig.