At restaurateur Mike Isabella’s Spanish and Moroccan-inspired Arroz, silky segments of bone marrow are getting a smokey twist.
The restaurant’s hot smoked bone marrow is an indulgent way to start a meal in the contemporary dining room. And while it’s not a new ingredient on the scene, executive chef Michael Rafidi’s preparation brings out new complexities.
The base inspiration for the dish was fairly straightforward. Rafidi himself is a big fan of bone marrow; he also had it on his menu when cooking at RN74 in San Francisco. So he knew he wanted to incorporate it into his work at Arroz. The restaurant was also brainstorming a new take on traditional Spanish pan con tomate (tomato spread with toasted bread), and bone marrow seemed like a fine choice to help evolve and elevate the classic.
“It was kind of two dishes merged into one,” says Rafidi, who joined Arroz in February 2017, about a month before opening. Upon arrival, he tweaked the menu to lean more heavily on Moroccan-style cuisine.
Rafidi uses Virginia-sourced bone marrow that he first brines and then smokes before serving. It’s accompanied with a ramekin of red tomato spread and few dollops of oxtail jam made with ras-el-hanout spice blend. The plate is further accentuated with a zippy harissa butter. It’s all waiting to be scooped on to crunchy slices of bread.
Bone marrow’s rich, buttery taste and smooth consistency isn’t for everyone. A few bites can go a long way. That said, Rafidi says that the different textures and flavors of his bone marrow preparation make it an ideal gateway for diners who may be unfamiliar with the ingredient or find it off-putting.
“We alter it where it’s not just bone marrow on a plate,” he says. “This one is a lot easier to take down.”
The hot smoked bone marrow is available for dinner and brunch alongside Arroz’s selection of small plates. Or pair it with a shareable serving of bomba rice or protein like Arctic char or ribeye. Rafidi says the dish may be altered slightly to reflect the best available product. Other than that, expect it to stick around for the long haul.
“It’s probably a staple on the menu that’s not going to change,” he says.