Root & Bone, an eatery known for its farm-fresh cuisine, originated in New York City in 2013. A second location subsequently opened in Miami, and now a third has opened in Indianapolis. As you might suspect, root and bone both serve as inspirations for the menu.
“It started off with the root side, which is more vegetarian and vegetable friendly,” explains Robert Ortenzio, general manager of the Indy location. “The bone side includes meats, and is carnivorous in nature. That’s where the name was born from – the dichotomy between using both sides of the menu.”
When possible, Root & Bone offers farm-to-table, local ingredients that change seasonally and are presented in a shared, family-style format. Ortenzio notes that with the number of great local farms in the area, the restaurant is able to feature a wide range of local fare when spring and summer arrive.
Root & Bone is a high-energy, fast-paced restaurant, complete with upbeat music playlists and friendly southern charm. The concept doesn’t rely on a traditional style of dining where every diner gets their own plate. Instead, diners typically have four or five items on their table to share.
“The items are coming out fresh and there’s always a flow of food to the table, so there’s that bountiful, never-ending feel,” Ortenzio says. “We invite our guests to enjoy an extended dining experience where they may hang out for a while.”
Restaurant leaders chose 46th Street and College Avenue because they felt it was a beautiful location with great curb appeal.
“The space really called out to us,” Ortenzio says. “When you see what this restaurant looks like, it just feels like the concept of the restaurant was born with this building in mind. It works perfectly.”
After undergoing a year-long restoration process for the building, and a subsequent build-out for the restaurant, Root & Bone leaders opened its doors in late January.
The restaurant’s décor includes a soft color pallet with blues and whites, as well as mismatched, eclectic trinkets such as old teapots. While the décor itself is soft and inviting, it’s the stellar service that makes guests feel at home.
“We really put southern hospitality front and center – a kind of fold-me-into-the-family kind of feeling the moment you step inside,” Ortenzio says. “It’s not necessarily fine dining, but fun dining.”
Root & Bone leaders nurture their employees by treating them with the same southern hospitality they dispense to guests.
“I think a lot of businesses struggle because they encourage their employees to use their heads rather than their hearts,” Ortenzio says. “We treat our employees like family because we feel that hospitality informs every decision that we make. When we do it that way, we really can’t lose.”
Fan-favorite menu items include southern specialties like sweet-tea-brined fried chicken as well as barbeque-brûléed spare ribs, which include pickled Fresno chiles and tangy barbecue.
“Those are our two main power hitters here,” says Ortenzio, who worked with chefs Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis in Miami before coming to Indy. “The rest of the menu is tailor made for the region.”
Other southern staples on the menu include a shrimp-and-grits dish, a fried green tomato BLT, and Chicken Under a Brick, which includes charred cauliflower, crisp apples, pecans, local honey and crumbled goat cheese.
The restaurant caters to dietary restrictions, offering gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.
“We really try to make it all-inclusive, and if somebody has something that they need, we go out of our way to try and accommodate them,” Ortenzio says.
The restaurant seats 122 diners, with an additional 15 bar seats. Once the weather warms, the Root & Bone staff plans to open a patio that will accommodate 40 to 50 patrons.
Currently, Root & Bone serves dinner only. By springtime when the patio opens, the restaurant will offer brunch and lunch.
“We are really happy to finally open our doors and serve everyone in this area,” Ortenzio says.
Root & Bone is located at 4601 North College Avenue in Indianapolis. Hours of operation are Sunday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, call 317-602-8672 or visit rootnboneindy.com.