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Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Plaudits: None
Neighborhood: Penn Quarter

The Setup

Looking for a catch-up drink and dinner, Official Co-Writer of DCWD CC picked out Fiola, Fabio Trabocchi's grand return to the DC restaurant scene.

The Vibe
Upscale, classy, a shimmering mix of browns and beiges... and that's just the bar. Fiola is one of the more spectacular dining rooms I've seen, from the modern bar section to the mixed modern dining area. The square bar fills up the whole space when you walk in, with a row of circular high bar tables behind it. A soft glow comes from the light fixtures made of what can be called glass bubbles hanging over the marble bar.

Follow a set of wine coolers and down a small set of stairs to the main space, a mix of country-inn with granite brick walls, to beige leather couches along chocolate furniture and walls. Seating is a diverse mix, from two large half-circle booths on the left, to back-to-back rows of two-tops in the center of the space. Outside of the lack of space for couples, it's otherwise a beautiful space.

The Food

To start, I had one of Jeff Faile's creations (who, we realized, served us at the bar at Palena): a Root Down, a mix of Zaya rum, Carpano Antica vermouth, and root liqueur. I had no idea what any of those words meant, but the mix was a nice warm mix for a cold autumn night.

To start, we started with the recommended meatballs, served with sunny side up egg and pecorino cheese. Housemade meatballs from high-end restaurants are always great, but these were exceptional, the perfect mix of meat and fat. The egg also did a great job of bringing the whole dish together and gave it a nice finish, despite the lack of starch. And spoiler alert: it was the weakest dish of the night.

For dinner, CC and I split two half portions of pasta. The first was tortellini, with goat cheese, sweetbreads, and fennel pollen. People talk in reverent terms about Chef Trabocchi's old restaurant Maestro, and it's clear to see why. The fresh housemade pasta sang, providing a lightness that was surprising for starch. The sweetbreads were as creamy and smooth and well-cooked as any I've had before, especially with pairing with the goat cheese. Still, everything about the dish left you satisfied without feeling heavy.

On the more savory side was the marubini: butternut squash ravioli with quail and rosemary in a roasting jus. This was just amazing; the quail and jus just so rich with the perfect amount of salt, with the squash giving the dish a depth that was perfect for the season. Again, the pasta was well-made, and the flavors were spot on.

The bartender talked us into dessert and suggested the bombolini: donuts filled with ricotta. Crisp on the outside and delightful on the inside, these were little sugary bites of heaven. Followed by some lovely and diverse petit-fours.

The Verdict

Amazing pasta, seasonal flavors, beautiful room. Definitely a great date spot.

Food Rating: *****
(out of 5)
Date Rating: 4.5 Hearts (out of 5)
Dress Code:
Bar Rating:
Classy Crowd
(out of 5) ($75-$100 for two)
: Head down the street to Harman Hall, where the Shakespeare Theatre Company opens Much Ado About Nothing in a week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with totally! Fiola is really a gem. Authenic, delicious, Marche region Italian. I love to stop by on my way home from work and grab a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine at the bar. Oh...and I plan on trying the pre-theater menu there too.