Mike Isabella Will Open First Spanish Concept in Early 2017
Washington, D.C., chef and restaurateur Mike Isabella announced Arroz, a Southern Spanish and Tangier-inspired restaurant to open in the Marriott Marquis Washington, D.C., in the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood in early 2017. Located at 901 Massachusetts Ave NW, Arroz will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, as well as weekend brunch, and will focus on the cuisines of Valencia, Andalusia and Portugal, incorporating dishes from Tangier along with other North African influences. Arroz is also one of the 10 concepts planned for Isabella Eatery opening in Tysons Galleria later in 2017.
"My favorite thing about dining in Spain is the incredible variety of the cuisine," Isabella says. “Spaniards have strong regional identity and it shows in their food culture. You can enjoy paella in Valencia, then drive down the coast a bit and experience completely different flavors and ingredients. Not many U.S. restaurateurs focus on Southern Spain, Northern Africa, and Portugal. Those regions of the world heavily influence each other’s art, architecture and food, and those unique flavors are exactly what we are aiming to capture at Arroz.”
Arroz is Spanish for rice, and as might be expected from the name, Valencian rice dishes like paella and soupy rice will have a prominent place on the menu alongside fideos and regional tapas. Also present throughout the Southern Spanish menu are elements and techniques often seen in the cuisines of Portugal and Morocco, most notably the northern city of Tangier, including bastilla, argan oil, and tempero cookery. Vegetable and seafood tagines and family-style dishes native to the Canary Islands show off Arroz’s diversity of influences.
Some of the more familiar Spanish tapas—pan con tomate, gambas al ajillo, patatas bravas—appear on the menu in a reimagined form, while selections of montaditos, bocadillos and croquetas bring a playful touch to the small-plate style of eating. Other sections dedicated to egg-based dishes and large-format items round out the dining experience.
Naturally, the beverage menu will lean heavily Spanish and Portuguese with plenty of Iberian wine, including a number from the Toro, Rueda and Ribera del Duero regions, favorites of Mike Isabella Concepts beverage director Taha Ismail. Cocktails will include several varieties of sangria, as well as gin and exclusively Spanish-made tonics. Ismail, who was born in Casablanca, will ensure that the beverage list echoes the menu’s North African influences by drawing on the flavors of his childhood. A large sherry and port list will explore interesting Spanish and Portuguese vintages of both.
Natalie Park Design Studio is behind the look and feel of Arroz, which offers a contemporary interpretation of Moroccan and Spanish architecture, motifs and colors. The 246-seat space includes 124 seats in the dining room, a private dining area for 12, bar seating for 18 with additional high-top tables and a plush lounge that seats 30, as well as a 62-seat terrace. A mix of both lounge and dining seating, the terrace is outfitted with fire pits, lush greenery and an open trellis with Tivoli lighting.