Words by Kaylee Dugan
Photos by Clarissa Villondo
We don’t do a lot of hotel restaurant coverage at BYT. Not because we hate hotels and think all of their restaurants are bad, but because they’re usually boring. There are some notable exceptions for this, we’re never going to stop loving Bourbon Steak’s burgers and their cocktail program can be more inventive than most. The Inn At Little Washington is obviously a culinary destination. The Tabard Inn is one of our favorite places in the city. If you think for a couple of minutes, you can definitely come up with some hotel restaurants worth visiting, but considering the sheer number of hotels in D.C., they actually end up being few and far between.
We might be able to add another restaurant to that list. Mike Isabella’s latest venture, the directly named Arroz is located right at the end of the Marriott Marquis. While we didn’t get to try the food, the decor (which is all by Natalie Park Design Studio) already leads us to believe Isabella has put a great deal of thought into this new restaurant. Inspired by his travels in Morocco, Spain and Portugal, Arroz blends modern interior design with a more classic touch. Scattered around the restaurants are vintage looking pottery with stark geometric designs, golden vases, and bright flowers.
While most of the restaurant is painted in warm neutral brown tones, the booths and private dining room are painted in deep calming blues. Not to mention the the many arches dotting the interior and the gorgeous gold geometric divider separating the dining room and the bar. It’s really good looking. The ceilings are tall and it’s bright enough to help you snap some A+ Instagrams.
Isabella promises that the interior won’t be the only thing that makes his restaurant stand out. While the restaurants rice dishes are the cornerstone of the menu (surprise!) Isabella explained that nothing about those dishes could be considered classic or common. Expect innovation not only in the ingredients, but also in the plating. On the other hand, the bar is sticking to some tried and true classics. There will be sangria, sherry cocktails, and a bigger than usual gin and tonic list.
It’s impossible to tell if the restaurant is going to great until you try the food, but considering Mike Isabella’s excellent track record, and the care his team has put into every inch of designing the restaurant, my doubts are few and far between. Hopefully this is the beginning of a new trend. When tourists and business folk and strangers to the city come to D.C., I imagine they usually try the hotel restaurant at lease once. It would be nice if those people left the city with the impression that D.C. is serving up quality, innovative food. Regardless, we’ll be back for a Taste Test very soon.
Arroz is located at 901 Massachusetts Ave NW and opens on March 27th. Hours are from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.