One of the best things about getting called in for jury duty at the DC courts (aside from the opportunity to serve, of course ) is that Fiola is just a 2-min walk. With only an hour for lunch that started 5 minutes late, Amy at the bar took wonderful care of me today.
Regretfully, I didn't do my part to check the veal chop price but I've gone long on it becoming DC's first 100 buck veal chop by 2016.
Rather than the veal....or the lobster ravioli...or one of the wonderful pastas...or a small pricey mess of those 'miracle rockwell belon oysters', I went in a different direction today with Amy's help.
Two things I hadn't had before, only one of which any normal person would need for a satisfying lunch.
First (and this was the less necessary item), I ordered the half-portion of the lobster caesar salad. At $16, I'm sorry but this was a good sized and wonderful salad. The full version is $24 and no doubt would be a great meal for many. Almost a full tail's worth of meat in the half-portion, wonderfully poached and just a beautifully composed and generously sized salad with several components and a couple of edible flowers. Artistically beautiful. But also very much satisfying and as delicious as any salad you'll find in this city imho. And again, fully prepared to duck any arrows fired with a smile, I think the pricing on the salad is fair and would even call it good value.
Second, my first time ordering Fiola's take on the pedestrian "Roasted Organic Chicken Neapolitan “Scarpariello” Style." At $20, this is totally an ample lunch for 90% of appetites. Amy told me she's had customers compare it to the famed Palena roast chicken. As I've had that one a few times over the years, I wouldn't make the comparison since they are pretty different approaches. Most scarpariello sauces I've had use some combination of peppers (bell, hot, etc.) with onion, garlic, sausage, a couple of vinegars, fresh herbs, etc. This version was hearty, savory and, with a several ounce thick chicken breast, very filling. The sauce used plenty of bits of pancetta versus sausage and, if not familiar with scarpariello, I'll be more helpful describing this sauce as a piquant yet smooth and rich ragout crossed with a cacciatore sauce. Most of all, delicious! Chef is doing something with his chicken somewhat reminiscent of Chef Ruta's. The moisture and flavor throughout lead me to believe it was brined. The skin, gorgeous, brown and crispy, came separated from the breast which may be part of the technique (drying to achieve the crispness) or may have just separated.
My lunch today was as wonderful an example of any visit I've made of Chef Trabocchi's ability to really elevate without superficial flourishes and make most dishes just delicious and memorable. Again, this large dish is twenty bucks. Add an iced tea or a less expensive glass of wine, call it a day and you can get out for less than $30 which, by the way, sits between two three-course, fixed-price lunch options always on menu at $28 and $35.
I know some disagree. And that's what makes this community freakin' great in my view. But, I still firmly believe this is about as good as it gets in DC for Italian (though haven't yet tried Roberto's4, a different but also heralded concept). Fiola remains one of my top 3 or 5 restaurants in any category and has been since I first went shortly after it opened.