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Fiola, Penn Quarter in the old Le Paradou Space - Now with Several Locations Worldwide

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I'm going here this Saturday - while looking over the website I think I may have uncovered something of a scoop.  Earlier this year Ed Scarpone (previously at DBGB DC) was named the executive chef at Fiola - but while looking through the "About" session on Fiola's website I noticed his name was mysteriously absent.  I thought maybe it was possible that they just didn't keep that section up to date but upon inspecting https://archive.org/web/ (a tool that allows you to view websites as they existed on specific dates in the past) I noticed he previously was listed under that section in September 2017.  Although his social medias still say "Executive Chef at Fiola" there's no posts from the him regarding the restaurant in a little over a month.  I also noticed Maria Trabocchi's Instagram talking about Fabio being back in the kitchen at Fiola.

Given this info I'd say it looks somewhat likely that Ed Scarpone is out at Fiola and that at least for the time being Fabio Trabocchi may be leading the kitchen there instead.  This is speculation of course, but I have no idea why'd you would remove your Executive Chef's info from your website were he still working there.

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On 1/11/2018 at 9:34 PM, FranklinDubya said:

Given this info I'd say it looks somewhat likely that Ed Scarpone is out at Fiola and that at least for the time being Fabio Trabocchi may be leading the kitchen there instead.  This is speculation of course, but I have no idea why'd you would remove your Executive Chef's info from your website were he still working there.

Washington City Paper reports Ed Scarpone has joined the Schlow restaurant group and is currently at the Riggsby, though he notes he will also be helping out with other projects. 

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They overbooked and/or got behind today, the last day of Restaurant Week. (They only do lunch.)  Approaching the end of their lunch service, things were pretty stacked up. It tested their hospitality to the limit, and they passed with flying colors.  We had to wait 15 minutes beyond our reservation time to get a table (we were quoted 10-15 minutes wait, and I was amazed that was actually accurate, given how many people were waiting ahead of us).

Once seated, the food was fantastic and the service continued to be stellar.

While the tomato soup with smoked salmon crostini was gorgeous, it was kind of odd to have to use a knife and fork to eat part of the soup, and we both thought the soup was a little too acidic. It was still quite good, and I'd have liked to have tried the crostini "shoreside" instead of anchoring a bowl of soup. My friend enjoyed her spaghetti with foraged mushrooms (and maybe it was tomato crema? Not on the online menu), and I liked the grilled Arctic char even more than I did the version I got at Summer Restaurant Week.  It was absolutely gorgeous and meltingly tender. All of the greenery/vegetation topping it was lovely, and I'm not sure what the sauce was.  Leeks and olives are all that are mentioned on the menu, but that description comes nowhere near describing the gorgeous, delicious preparation that showed up on the plate.

The dessert tiramisu was also great. (They were out of the panna cotta by the time we ordered and were subbing a grapefruit sorbet so people had a second choice.)

Whether I'm imagining it or not, this seemed like more food than I got at summer Restaurant Week last year (and that's not including the very lemony extra dessert slice we got for our waiting--a lemon mousse cheesecake?)

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Wanted to do a quick little review / write up from my recent meal (Saturday 1/13) here.  I've eaten at Fiola a couple of times but recent meals had been either lunches or their special Sunday Dinner deal ($95 for four courses and a bottle of wine for two people).  I was excited to go back and try dinner as all those meals had been but on my original dinner trip I certainly enjoyed my meal but didn't think it was particularly worth the price... then again I was also a much less experienced diner at the time.

Going in my dining partner and I decided going in we would do the four course prix-fixe menu but add an additional pasta course to the middle as a supplement since we each wanted to try multiple pastas but not have pasta for 2/3rds of the savory portion of dinner.  As I expected would be the case given the typically excellent service at Trabocchi restaurants our server was happy to oblige our request here.  We also did the “cheaper” wine pairing option.

As an amuse-bouche we received a small cup of soup along with a small toasted stick of bread with a nice dab of foie gras and a smaller dab of jam of some kind.  The soup was delicious although I cannot for the life of me remember what it was (may have just been a parmesan-y broth) and the foie was even better - a perfect bite of the foie pb&j style, which is one of my favorite things to eat.  This also helped me sidestep the fear of missing out by not getting foie as one of the my courses.

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My first “real” course was the tuna crudo with black truffle vinaigrette, ikura, and porcini crema.  This was the one thing I had that fell a bit flat for me which was surprising as the two other tuna crudos I’ve had in the past at Fiola were some of the best I’ve ever had.  The dish wasn’t outright bad but the black truffle vinaigrette definitely overwhelmed the taste of the tuna which in my opinion should be front and center with high quality tuna.  I’m not someone who outright hates truffle oil, but I don’t think high quality tuna is a good place to apply it.  Other people appear to love this dish though so what do I know… the bite I got with just the tuna and ikura roe and minimal sauce / vinaigrette was very good at least.

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Next up was egg yolk capellacio with sweetbreads, mushrooms, marsala, and topped with a parmesan foam.  This was delightful all around.  The resulting egg yolk, marsala, and foam all worked nicely together, the pasta was perfectly cooked and the high quality ingredients really sang here.  The sweetbreads in particular were phenomenal.

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The 3rd course was the obvious highlight of the night - gnocchi with black truffle fonduta and pears.  My companion and I ordered this course to be split, however based on the size I have to imagine they just gave us each a full portion despite only charging us for one order a la carte and throwing in the pairing wine for free as well. I’m just gonna pull the text I wrote on my Instagram post I did about this (which was something of a personal writing exercise… don’t ask why…) : “While I expected the dish would contain an element of truffle flavoring incorporated into it I did not anticipate the winter Perigord truffles featured at the restaurant to be directly shaved on top. The gnocchi hits the table and I’m immediately struck by the pleasant fragrance of cheese and butter emanating from the dish. Not a moment later to my supreme delight the white gloved server appeared... truffle and shaving utensil in hand. I expected a light drizzling of the luxury ingredient, but instead beamed ear to ear like it was Christmas morning as a blizzard of truffle descended onto the gnocchi. The freshness of the truffles was undeniable as their distinctive funky perfume lifted off the plate. As I take my first bite of the delicate clouds of pasta I’m struck with a feeling of pure bliss from the taste. The richness of the sauce along with the unique pungency from the truffles and the light sweetness from the pears is the image of perfection. I no longer like to declare things “the best I’ve ever eaten” - but this dish transported me back to the first time I experienced real truffles at Casa Luca - a dish that kick-started my food obsession.”

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Now at this point I was certainly feeling a bit full as getting a full portion of heavy as hell gnocchi (no regrets though) had pushed me further than expected.  I still had one final savory course though : Australian wagyu steak with bone marrow hollandaise and brasato sauce.  Despite being stuffed I absolutely loved this dish, the steak had a fabulous sear on the outside but basically fully rare near the center which is perfectly to my liking.  A lot of times I find heavy sauces on already rich steaks can be overkill but here everything played very nicely together.

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For dessert I had this fantastic pistachio dish… I’m not great at describing desserts but was just a lovely more savory dessert with a nice blend of crunchy from the pistachios on bottom and sweet from the pistachio ice cream and mandarin orange on top.

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All in all an excellent meal.  I don’t remember the specific wine pairings but those complemented each course effectively and I also got the impression we got hooked up with some especially high quality stuff (The somm seemed happy someone ordered the pairing option), although remembering I have no way to verify this.  While Fiola I don’t think is a place you’d want to (or be able to) eat at regularly, as a special occasion or splurge night option this meal moved it close to being in league with Kinship for me for that sort of experience.

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19 minutes ago, FranklinDubya said:

All in all an excellent meal. 

Doubtless to be followed by a 48-hour cleansing fast and then a couple days of nothing but unsalted lentils and green tea. My goodness this is a rich meal.

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1 hour ago, DonRocks said:

Doubtless to be followed by a 48-hour cleansing fast and then a couple days of nothing but unsalted lentils and green tea. My goodness this is a rich meal.

I don't know if I should be worried that I eat this kinda of thing and feel totally fine the next day..  I generally eat pretty healthy during the week and I guess my stomach just gears up for potentially a ton of food every Saturday.   While I definitely like a lot of richer foods and sometimes just can't help myself I have found recently that I get enjoyment out of a little more balance... provided the balancing options look just as appealing.

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Over decades people who simply come in contact with Cruz hate him.

The hecklers were only doing what how ever many thousands that have known him would have liked to do

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I feel sorry for the innocent diners who may not have a dog in this fight and maybe were just trying to celebrate a special occasion (anniversary, birthday, etc.).

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43 minutes ago, jandres374 said:

I feel sorry for the innocent diners who may not have a dog in this fight and maybe were just trying to celebrate a special occasion (anniversary, birthday, etc.).

I was thinking the same thing.

---

One night, after 9/11, but before the invasion of Afghanistan, I was having dinner at the bar at Citronelle. Dining at the Chef's Table were:

George Schultz
Alan Greenspan
Donald Rumsfeld
Dick Cheney

The presence of Secret Service agents was overwhelming, and very intimidating. A guy sitting next to me texted someone, telling the recepient who was there, and within ten minutes, he was led off by Secret Service - he remained AWOL until after the four left the restaurant.

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We received the attached email outlining the effects that this has had on Fiola. In support we will be eating there with a reservation at 6:30 this Friday. If anyone else is doing the same ask to speak with the Newman party.

On Saturday, September 29, 2018 9:35 AM, Fabio and Maria Trabocchi <rewards@c.pxsmail.com> wrote:

Fabio and Maria Trabocchi

 

Dear Friend of Fiola,

As you may have heard, Fiola has been in the news lately and not in a particularly helpful way. On Monday night, a group of protesters found out that Senator Ted Cruz was at the restaurant for dinner. A large group entered the restaurant suddenly and were joined by others already inside the restaurant who may have been patrons or protesters in waiting. Together they surrounded the senator’s table and chanted slogans at him and his wife. They were politically motivated, loud, and disruptive. They were also potentially a danger not only to the senator but to our other customers and to our property and so, as is our policy, our managers called the police and eventually escorted the senator outside away from the protesters when it was safe to do so.  We managed to hide him in the kitchen until the protesters left and he finished his dinner and left, thanking us for our hospitality.

We have no idea how the protesters knew to come to Fiola to protest, but some in the media have suggested that we intentionally leaked his presence to the protesters. How insane to imagine we choose to host an attack in our own restaurant!  As crazy as that idea is, the negative effects of the repetition of this false statement is unprecedented in our careers. We had to take down our social media temporarily because we received thousands of hateful comments.  Our reservation lines are inundated with calls from people who are taunting our staff and threatening to destroy our restaurant. Maria and I have personally received death threats. We would have never thought such a thing was possible in the restaurant business.

Fiola is being blamed simply for being the location for the attacks as if we ourselves were the attackers. While anyone may disagree with the politics of Senator Cruz or Senator Corey Booker or anyone else in the spotlight, we know you understand that we operate a restaurant in a city where politics is the main industry. We cannot stay open if we don’t welcome everyone regardless of party affiliation.  We take our hospitality seriously and dole it out generously to all comers.  Under difficult circumstances and without regard to who was being attacked, our staff did the best they could to handle a horrible situation that they, as hospitality professionals, were not prepared to handle and tried to offer the kind of care that any of you would like to be offered if you were in such a situation.  As always, we are proud of our team. 

And we want to make it crystal clear that would never participate in or would condone a protest of anyone of any political stripe inside one of our restaurants. 

We are now living in the aftermath of this PR disaster.  The restaurants will be getting security guards for the time being to avoid similar instances. We are re-training the staff at all our restaurants on what to do in the event this happens again. We are trying to run a restaurant that was besieged this week with the sort of vitriol that is the story of divided politics in America now.  It will be challenging, but we are not afraid of working hard, and our entire team is committed to coming back even stronger. We will come back no matter what it takes.

If you are receiving this email, you are a friend who comes to see us when you want a good meal and warm hospitality. You are a friend of Fiola, and we take that friendship very seriously too.  As a friend of Fiola, you may ask what you can do to help.

We are writing to explain what happened and with a request.  Simply, please come to Fiola now and through the Fall and holiday season. Not to the neglect of our other restaurants but to come with friends to enjoy the original Fiola soon.  As you know, our menus change daily and some amazing items are coming into season now. Please come celebrate the end of the rain (please!) with us, have a cocktail before heading to the Capital One Arena, or make jury duty less dreary by having a Presto lunch at the bar.  We promise that Fiola is better than ever, and with your support we will emerge from this challenge quickly.

Please contact our reservations team at reservations@fabiotrabocchi.com or visit www.fioladc.com, and we will welcome you with open arms.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for allowing us to serve you over the years. Our most fervent desire is to be able to continue to do so for many more, and so we ask that you come back soon and show us your support now when our staff could really use it.

Sincerely,

Fabio and Maria Trabocchi

Fabio and Maria Trabocchi 

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Thanks for sharing this.   How interesting.   I was hit by a variety of reactions. 

I'm not a fan of Cruz.  Had I been at the restaurant while this was going on, I might have joined the protesters...or might not have.  My political leanings and "heart" might have had me join the protestors.  Normal modesty, and prior experiences might have kept me from joining them. (I had the cr@p knocked out of me in a protest long ago--caught me completely off guard)

Additionally and very strongly, as a business operator I would have sympathized with the owners.  They are simply running a business and doing their best to stay out of the political cauldron in which we live and quite possibly DC could be one of the more activist fervent cities where things like this could take place.  For decades in the midst of our highly charged political city I've kept my political orientation quiet while in the course of business.

Regardless of political leanings I'm completely unaware of organized efforts such as this.  If they are being planned, or some group(s) are monitoring particular politicians  that is news to me. 

I hope this incident doesn't have a negative impact on the Trabocchi restaurants.  I like them.  I'm not aware of any political leanings that have ever been connected to them.

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What I think has been horrible is that many media outlets of certain leanings- the same who "reported" the Comet Ping Pong stories, portrayed Fiola as either letting this happen or encouraging it, and it hasn't appeared to be rebutted by Mr. Cruz, or any of those media outlets after a time to gather facts.  I think they fueled fire without any real facts about the incident.  

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1 hour ago, ktmoomau said:

What I think has been horrible is that many media outlets of certain leanings- the same who "reported" the Comet Ping Pong stories, portrayed Fiola as either letting this happen or encouraging it, and it hasn't appeared to be rebutted by Mr. Cruz, or any of those media outlets after a time to gather facts.  I think they fueled fire without any real facts about the incident.  

The oppressed-wealthy-white-Christian-American-man narrative needs all the help it can get.

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There is that element of the DC dining scene, where the power brokers frequent, restaurants have to bear the cost of association. It's a funny little dance, I guess in LA it is the same for Hollywood and in NYC for all stripes of celebrities, too. 

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An update on this incident via the Washington Post

The Trabocchi restaurant group has taken a lot of hits on this via SM and in reviews.   Meanwhile, per the story:

a.  A reservation was made for the Cruz's at some point prior to the incident.

b.  Restaurant personnel were made aware that the Cruz's were going to be there that evening.

c.  Protestors arrived at the bar before the Cruz reservation and more protestors were nearby.  In other words someone from the inside contacted the protestor group.

d.  Going to the FB page for the protestors its some local group connected to Antifa. 

I remain personally mixed with regard to this incident, describing my perspective above.  We are living in turbulent times.

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I got a kick out of this note posted on Sietsema's Chat today, referencing the incident at Fiola:

Quote

I just sent this note off to Fiola: Dear Fabio, Maria, and all of our friends at Fiola, I was in your dining room last Monday, when the protesters arrived to express their objections to Senator Cruz and his wife. In fact, I was entertaining a friend and fellow board member at the table that gave us a ringside seat to the events. I was impressed with the way that your staff gently handled both the protesters and the Cruzes. My own guest, a fellow member of a nonprofit board with me who is also a restaurant-industry executive, and who was here on business from Florida, was likewise nonplussed; if anything, the event gave us something to tell our spouses about other than the usual “We had a fantastic, transformative meal at Fiola.” In fact, we’re referring to this event as “Dinner and a Show,” and our fellow board members are jealous that they weren’t with us for the affair. These things will happen in Washington. That is why I live in the National Capital Area, and why I choose to raise my family here: The people here are interested and interesting, political and passionate. I would have it no other way. And while the protesters were loud, to be sure, they were not loud for long, and they were nonviolent. They certainly have something to protest, and I am glad they were given a brief opportunity to express themselves. In short, it was a positive and memorable night for us at Fiola, and I know that I’ll be at least a little disappointed if there isn’t another protest the next time I am in. Your friend,

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I find the situation deplorable.  No one should be protesting on private property.  If I was in the restaurant, I would've been pissed to have my meal interrupted.  I find crying babies unacceptable at fine dining restaurants.  I find whining adults even more unacceptable - at any venue.  If Cruz is doing a bad job, let his constituents take care of the issue.  

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2 hours ago, ktmoomau said:

Whoa, really? (I went to the website, and I still can't quite wrap my head around this)

In terms of restaurant economics, Washington, DC is becoming "all grown up," like a miniature version of New York City - look how many restaurateurs there have outlets in Hong Kong, Singapore, The Caribbean, etc. - Michel Richard was the pioneer of this, I suppose, and I'm glad to see Andrés, Trabocchi, etc., carrying the torch because there's some substance behind them. In my perfect world, every great chef would be a Michel Bras, but that's not the way it works anymore (and even Bras has a restaurant in Japan) - that's why, if you want the best of the best, you stay on the cutting edge of knowledge, and catch chefs on their way up, hell-bent on making a name for themselves - the key is to separate the wheat from the PR-chaff.

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