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


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I don't work downtown these days and I have no idea how long it would have taken for a cab to get to the restaurant, but it was one of those moments that makes me wonder where the communication went wrong.

Geez, I live is godforsaken Southwest and when I call a cab it arrives in 5 or 10 minutes!

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As mentioned upthread, we celebrated my daughter's birthday at Fiola on a Saturday evening. We typically save Fiola for special occasions, since the cost, while justified, is not something we can affo

Fabio Trabbochi's restaurants have become a bit of birthday tradition in my family, so my wife's request for a birthday dinner at Fiola was an easy choice. Fiola remains a top choice in DC; the food,

We went for dinner last week and were thoroughly impressed. The food was outstanding and the service was impeccable. The balance of flavors, textures and temperatures on all of our dishes was perfect.

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Srvice during the meal was terrific. However, we had a bit of a glitch when we were on our way out when my friend, who had recently broken her foot and was wearing a cast/boot on her leg, asked the hostess to call a cab for her. We explained that she was not in a rush but needed help because of her broken foot -- and that we were headed in different directions. The hostess said that it didn't make sense for the restaurant to call a cab because it generally took the cabs an hour to arrive at the restaurant and my friend could catch a cab on the street easily. We explained again that we were going in different directions (and had different time pressures). My friend said she would be happy to have a drink at the bar while she waited, but the hostess again said it did not make sense for her to call a cab. The hostess then walked away and so my friend, who was already tired from her trip, asked me to help her. I was in a big rush for work (I was on borrowed time against a deadline) but ran outside and hailed a cab for my friend. I don't work downtown these days and I have no idea how long it would have taken for a cab to get to the restaurant, but it was one of those moments that makes me wonder where the communication went wrong.

Service Fail.

The hostess should have had a staff member - anyone - go out and hail a cab on 7th and Indiana.

I'm getting worried about Fiola (and their upcoming two restaurants).

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Definitely agree that the aforementioned hostess/cab situation was handled clumsily at best, but happy hour last night at Fiola was a lot of fun. My girlfriend and I got there with about a half hour to spare in terms of the specials, and it was packed - Jeff said they've really been successful at getting folks in between 4 and 6 PM, which is great. Cocktails, of course, were lovely, and we enjoyed both the bar snacks (mozzarella fritters and veal meatballs, the latter being a standby whenever I go to the Fiola bar) and the foie gras special from the regular menu with polenta, balsamic, and green strawberries (a rich and decadent splurge after a rough week at the office). I still have never eaten at a table at Fiola - I just love the vibe at the bar so much, it is one of my favorite places to spend an evening, whether I am just wanting a couple of appetizers or a full-blown celebratory meal.

As we were wrapping up, our very own hmmboy came in for dinner - say hi next time, Professor! :D

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Got an email from Fiola on Monday with this announcement:

Fiola Brings Back Presto! Menu

Designed for busy professionals, the special menu is available Monday through Friday from 11:30AM to 1:30PM, and offers guests who dine at Fiola Bar a choice of an appetizer, entrée and beverage for just $19. The Presto! menu starts today, Monday, June 3 and will be served throughout the summer. The menu includes Fiola favorites such as Burrata, Fiola Meatballs, Pappardelle with Heirloom Tomatoes, Chicken "Scarpariello", and the Fiola Burger. Beverage choices include Strawberry or Mint Lemonade, Iced Tea, or an Aperol Spritz.

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For our one "fancy" meal of the weekend, Jason and I brought my parents to Fiola. Even though Casa Luca was garnering all of the attention (our server said that on Friday night, CL did more covers than Fiola), I could not have been more thrilled with our choice - dinner was absolutely spectacular in every aspect. And it was a momentous occasion indeed, as it marked the first time I have visited Fiola and actually stepped past the bar. :D

I know people complain that Fiola is loud, but I just love the energy in there - it is vibrant, celebratory, and FUN. Cocktails were lovely (even though we missed Jeff, who was over at the new spot), as always. Artur was our server, and in addition to being absolutely adorable, he was incredibly knowledgeable and attentive while still maintaining a wonderful warmth and sense of humor. It was some of the best service I have ever received - precise and professional, but not pretentious. It reminded me of how I felt at the French Laundry - pampered, but also somehow like I was at my own home. Bravo.

Food was fantastic. We thought about the tasting menu (note: the whole table does not have to partake, AND they will switch things out if you have dietary issues - so nice to see some flexibility there), but decided to go a la carte. We did two apps for the table, and then each of us got a half order of pasta and a meat/main course. The ahi tuna carpaccio and burrata apps were wonderful, as always - so beautifully presented and full of flavor. I thoroughly enjoyed the spaghetti with sea urchin, but the goat cheese ravioli was delicious as well - like summer in a bowl, with squash and basil. Mom loved her lobster ravioli. For mains, the absolute star of the show was that veal chop - I mean, the presentation, the flavors, the sheer AMOUNT of food, it was all just astounding. The guinea hen was also a very noteworthy dish - very tender and moist. Dad had sturgeon, which I don't think I've ever had before, and it was perfectly cooked. My pork special, with loin and stuffed trotters, was also delicious.

We only ordered bomboloni for dessert (yum, as always), but they also brought out a chocolate something or other (sorry for the lame description, but I couldn't even get a bite, with the other vultures at the table) and the zuppa inglese, which was really nice and light for a hot evening. Limoncello and cappuccino were perfect finishing touches. The pacing was awesome - from start to finish, it was 3 hours, which was perfect for us since we wanted to really savor and enjoy both the food and the company.

Fiola is spendy, there is no doubt. But for the dining experience we got, our whole party felt like it was worth every penny. Again, thanks to Artur for taking great care of us (and for assuring us that his feelings would not be hurt if we still preferred the bar). :P

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So, I had the legendary lobster ravioli and and I thought "this is pretty good, but who can't come up with something pretty good when your ingredients are a pound of lobster, a pound of butter and some chives?"

In a way, the humble, delicious, steak tartar was more impressive.  Certainly had more zing.

But, what I really wanted to bring to your attention was that, at about 9:00 on a Friday night, there were many open outdoor tables.  And it's only a few blocks from that free jazz thing on Friday nights at the National Gallery Sculpture Garden.  There was some combination of rules and willingness to bend them that left me slightly confused, but I believe that they discourage the bar menu at the outdoor tables, but you can order a la cart from the not inexpensive main menu.  But, since you saved all that money getting your jazz for free....

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Only one post in the past 2 years. Has anyone been here recently?

Within the last two years, yes.  Recently, no. At least not since last summer or fall I think.  Was at Fiola Mare very recently and with limited overlap between the two restaurants' menus, can confirm the lobster ravioli are still one of DC's great dishes.  And, in nice weather, can't beat the Mare experience.

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Heading there tomorrow for a birthday dinner. While scanning the menu, I noticed they now offer a $40 negroni. That price makes Capella's $22 Manhattan look like a bargain.

I was all set to seethe with righteous anger, but on further examination, it's a cocktail made with Hennessey VSOP and Barolo that they are inexplicably categorizing as a Negroni.

It still makes no sense to me to spend $40 on a cocktail, but at least it isn't for the standard Negroni.

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I was all set to seethe with righteous anger, but on further examination, it's a cocktail made with Hennessey VSOP and Barolo that they are inexplicably categorizing as a Negroni.

It still makes no sense to me to spend $40 on a cocktail, but at least it isn't for the standard Negroni.

I might be missing something, but what's so special about Hennessey VSOP? It's a $70 bottle of Cognac, no? I assume it's young Barolo because what would be the sense in using an aged one? I just bought two magnums of 2001 Barolo last week, and they weren't all that expensive. This seems outlandish to me.

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I might be missing something, but what's so special about Hennessey VSOP? It's a $70 bottle of Cognac, no? I assume it's young Barolo because what would be the sense in using an aged one? I just bought two magnums of 2001 Barolo last week, and they weren't all that expensive. This seems outlandish to me.

I agree...I just think it would be even more outlandish to charge that for gin, campari, and vermouth.

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I agree...I just think it would be even more outlandish to charge that for gin, campari, and vermouth.

Assuming there's 1 ounce of Cognac and 4 ounces of Barolo, the retail price of each drink is probably about $13 ($3 for the Cognac and $10 for the Barolo). Restaurant cost (buying through a distributor) is probably more like $8-9. Obviously I'm making assumptions here: about the quantities, about the Cognac retailing for $75, and about the Barolo retailing for $60.

I once heard an apocryphal story about Jean-Louis Palladin making a dessert using Chateau d'Yquem. I also have a friend who will only make Boeuf Bourgignon using a bottle of Charmes-Chambertin.

I should open a wine bar.

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I once heard an apocryphal story about Jean-Louis Palladin making a dessert using Chateau d'Yquem. I also have a friend who will only make Boeuf Bourgignon using a bottle of Charmes-Chambertin.

I should open a wine bar.

I can assure you non-apocryphally that Yannick Cam occasionally made a dessert using d'Yquem at Le Pavillon.  All I can remember is that he turned it into a gelee and enrobed (or whatever) something.  I seem to recall that there was always a little bit left for the chef to sip afterwards.

Of course, a half-bottle was dramatically cheaper in 1985. Maybe $40-50 retail for a recent vintage?

(Jesus, has it really been 30 years since I worked there?)

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I can assure you non-apocryphally that Yannick Cam occasionally made a dessert using d'Yquem at Le Pavillon.  All I can remember is that he turned it into a gelee and enrobed (or whatever) something.  I seem to recall that there was always a little bit left for the chef to sip afterwards.

Of course, a half-bottle was dramatically cheaper in 1985. Maybe $40-50 retail for a recent vintage?

(Jesus, has it really been 30 years since I worked there?)

You're right, I think it was Cam, not Palladin.

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I can assure you non-apocryphally that Yannick Cam occasionally made a dessert using d'Yquem at Le Pavillon.  All I can remember is that he turned it into a gelee and enrobed (or whatever) something.  I seem to recall that there was always a little bit left for the chef to sip afterwards.

Of course, a half-bottle was dramatically cheaper in 1985. Maybe $40-50 retail for a recent vintage?

(Jesus, has it really been 30 years since I worked there?)

You might be surprised at how relatively inexpensive Sauternes has become. Maybe not d'Yquem, which has an entry-level price of about $200 per bottle, but just about all other Sauternes and Barsacs have become undervalued relative to the rest of the market - Climens, for example, can be found for about $50-60 per bottle if you know where to look. That may not sound cheap, but in the grand scheme of things, it is (and I know you know this).

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Fabio Trabbochi's restaurants have become a bit of birthday tradition in my family, so my wife's request for a birthday dinner at Fiola was an easy choice. Fiola remains a top choice in DC; the food, the service, and the hospitality is certainly first rate. Fiola is still very expensive for dinner, so for me, it will remains a special occasion destination.

First, I incorrectly assumed the $40 negroni was the most expensive cocktail in town. I overlooked "Cocktail Bill", a drink featuring Willett 8 year cask strength rye, and priced at $45. (in the unlikely event anyone from Fiola reads this, Willette is spelled incorrectly on the menu.) I opted for the more reasonably priced Fiola G&T. It featured a "seasonal ice", which appeared to be a frozen berry puree, as well as some edible flowers. My wife enjoyed a seasonal mint julep, and my daughter really loved her Pom Pom Fizz, a tangy blend of pomegranate juice, lime juice, and ginger beer.

The main dining are was packed, surprising for 7pm on a Wednesday, and there was also a large private party taking place. Our server, while friendly and polite, seemed a bit flustered initially, and the pacing was a bit off. It took quite a while for our appetizers to arrive, but Fiola's knack for hospitality turned a minor inconvenience into a nice memory when we were provided with half a dozen Shigoku oysters. Trabocchi's restaurants prepares seafood better than anywhere else I know of, and their version of oysters, served with a touch of caviar and a lemon granita, is one of my favorites.

Another item Fiola has mastered is burrata, and predictably, that was what my wife ordered. Similarly, my daughter remembered the tuna carpaccio from a previous visit. Both were as delicious as they had been before. I opted for the "Flight of Duck", a decadent trio composed of a generous serving of foie gras, thinly sliced smoked duck breast and poached figs, and a beautiful duck egg.

My wife and daughter chose pasta as their entrees, and selected the tajarin "Al Frutti Di Mare" and the cavatelli amatriciana. The pasta, prepared tableside, was full of perfectly cooked seafood, and the tangy brodetto accentuated the freshness of the seafood. The ricotta cavatelli was delicious as well, and the amatriciana sauce was velvety and rich. I had a tough time picking an entree, but my wife wanted to taste the signature veal chop, and since it was her birthday, I played along. The chop was impossibly tender, and enveloped in what I believe was a mushroom duxelle, and then wrapped in ultra thin prosciutto. The accompanying mushrooms were perfectly cooked, and made for a rich side dish. The porcini crema and ossobuco jus were incredible, and complemented the veal nicely. Since I was driving, I behaved myself and had a single glass of a super tuscan wine, but I don't recall the details.

We thoroughly enjoyed our evening, and Maria Trabocchi chatted with us for a bit. She mentioned that they keep notes on their guests, and said we had the best seat in the house. That was certainly a nice touch, one that I appreciated and had not requested. The banquette provided a view of the entire room, and it was fun to people watch, and observe the staff as they went about their business.

If I lived or worked closer to downtown DC, I'd visit more frequently for lunch and/or happy hour. Looking forward to our next visit already!

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Fiola sent an email this weekend announcing "our new menu format at lunch and dinner, offering our guests a choice of courses for a set price, focusing on our guests' freedom to select a variety of dishes."

In addition to the set price menus, the dishes in the Classics section are offered a la carte or can be included in the set price menu for a supplement.

It sounds like Fiola is going in an even more upscale direction.

Attached are the new menus from their website.

Fiola Lunch Menu 1.4.16.pdfFiola Dinner Menu 1.4.16.pdf

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Another year has passed, and it's time to celebrate another birthday at Fiola. I'm looking forward to seeing what the new prix fixe format offers, and while the "Decadence" 5-course option is enticing, I'll probably choose one of the options with fewer courses.

Has anyone been recently?

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On 5/13/2016 at 0:16 PM, reedm said:

Another year has passed, and it's time to celebrate another birthday at Fiola. I'm looking forward to seeing what the new prix fixe format offers, and while the "Decadence" 5-course option is enticing, I'll probably choose one of the options with fewer courses.

Has anyone been recently?

No, but going soon.

Did you go already? How was it?

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Been here for dinner, both private and normal reservations.  This place continues to impress.  Food is very consistent, exciting, and filling.  Wine selection is decent and sommelier is good when given price or taste preferences.  Nice atmosphere and noise is manageable, but if on the high side, typical for most "in" places these days.  

Always treated well, and consistently - worth a visit if you have not been.  Expensive, but food and wine quality justify.

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I went with a friend for a Restaurant Week lunch today and we had a lovely meal. We both got the lightly grilled Arctic Char for our mains (with eggplant confit and other things). She got the burrata for a first course, which had herbs and flowers and was beautiful.  I got a lovely creamy (tomato) gazpacho with quinoa, pine nuts, and basil plated in the middle.  Each of us got the blueberry gelato for dessert.  They only do RW lunch, and this was a winner.  

Odd that it's been so long since a post on Fiola.

 

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As mentioned upthread, we celebrated my daughter's birthday at Fiola on a Saturday evening. We typically save Fiola for special occasions, since the cost, while justified, is not something we can afford to do on a monthly basis. (Come on powerball) 

The three of us agreed this was our best experience at Fiola to date. If I had one criticism in the past, it was that nearly every dish was incredibly rich, and it was easy to be overwhelmed if you didn't order carefully. We were told Ed Scarpone is now the executive chef, and I think his menu is now much more balanced. The favorites remain, but there are new and creative dishes on the menu as well. (Perhaps Don or another expert here might be able to expand on chef Scarpone.)

Once again, John hosted us for the evening. (Referring to him as a server just doesn't seem to reflect his professional skills to me). I think he's the best Fiola has to offer, so we enjoyed spending time with him again. He has a quiet, wry sense of humor, and he knows Fiola's offerings inside and out. Great guy.

On to the menu. Fiola's menu changes quite often both in content and format, and this time the menu was divided into two main categories, "Evolution" and "Classics". While the printed options are 2, 3, or 4 courses plus dessert, as well as a 5 course tasting menu, you can literally any combination of any item on the menu. It's also possible to order half-portions of some items. The ordering flexibility was very useful to us, as I will explain later.

I'll try to provide highlights, but won't describe every bit of food and drink we enjoyed that evening.

I began with a negroni, which was mixed tableside. The gin and vermouth were pre-mixed, and a selection of amaros was provided so you're able to customize the drink to your liking. If memory serves, the amari were Capppelletti, Cardamaro, and Fernet. Delicious. John suggested I could keep some of the amaro as a digestif. 

IMG_5581.JPG.c86b0197bd33ce188eb6707c8bd26ba3.JPG"The Negroni Bar"

There were three of us, and my wife and daughter opted for the two course plus dessert option. My daughter is a vegetarian (not strict), and they were able to accomodate her requests easily. I opted for the five course tasting menu, with the understanding my dinner companions would share my food. 

Since we ordered a tasting menu, we were served two amuse bouche. The first was a lovely watermelon gazpacho, and the second, pictured below, was a "cannelloni" filled with whipped ricotta and a touch of caviar. (If you look closely, you'll see a bit of gold edible leaf.) This bite-sized treat was superb.

image.png.2353214ad90b503f07c81f701c26060b.pngAmuse Bouche

My wife and daughter chose identical first courses of Heirloom Tomato Panzanella, served with herbs, Extra Vecchio Balsamico and olive oil. There was also a bit of foam, as you can see in the picture. The tomatoes were sweet and delicious, and the bread component was very light. Delicious starter.

IMG_5590.JPG.a6ba3b29f5a0b5588ea75d83fd45ed95.JPG"Heirloom Tomato Panzanella"

My tasting menu began with a Yellowfin Tuna appetizer, which was crafted to resemble veal tonnato. I don't recall all of the components of the dish, but it was well-balanced, beautiful, and delicious. Caviar and edible gold leaf made another appearance.

IMG_5592.JPG.55c12e430c2194b4580128992d740f7c.JPG"Yellowfin Tuna"

My next course was a simple Cacio e Pepe. (I kid!). It was an incredibly luxurious Cacio e Pepe with black Australian truffles. This dish was insanely delicious; the pasta was light and perfectly cooked, and the sauce was rich and creamy. I'm not a truffle expert, but the Australian truffles were incredibly aromatic, and raised the dish to another level of deliciousness. The picture is sloppy, since I took it after I shared it with my wife and daughter. Easily one of the best dishes I've had at Fiola. 

IMG_5588.JPG.31d247a409e79df1227f1b91cd423dcc.JPG"Cacio e Pepe with Black Australian Truffle"

The next dish on the tasting menu was also one of my two favorite dishes of the evening. Simply labeled "scallop" on the menu, it was actually a perfectly seared and lightly cooked Hokkaido scallop served on a lemon risotto. I'm not sure if I'll be able to eat a lesser version of a scallop again, since this was was sweet, tender, rich, and slightly briny. Amazing.

IMG_5593.JPG.ecdc9c12f6f3f5164c4e9727e4b836c4.JPG"Scallop"

More dishes are pictured below. They were all wonderful, but I'm running out of adjectives and descriptive phrases. 

IMG_5580.JPG.4bdaee113990437dd931d2e8befab8db.JPG"Iberico Scarpariello"

My daughter opted to leave the langoustine in the Sweetcorn Marubini dish, and she opined the shellfish was the best she'd ever had. I tasted it, and agree. The langoustine was superbly tender, and really pulled the dish together perfectly.

IMG_5585.JPG.8c686690d32e60ff5d1325ced066d3fe.JPG "Sweetcorn Marubini"

90-day aged ribeye with wine reduction and bone-marrow hollandaise. The beef was cooked a bit unevenly, but I opted not to return it. Extremely rich as you might imagine.

 

IMG_5583.JPG.3626c3f3e0fb220deba3f9e302a2eb94.JPG"Ribeye"

IMG_5587.JPG.35a4d7046511e46ca2b63efddce9e1a3.JPG"Summer Peaches"

IMG_5591.JPG.f3882babb6a52746cfea710582227054.JPG"Tiramisu"

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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.

5a6e0cc73a99e_26409208_993288207489777_3204282066535448576_n(2).jpg.ae8e9d6771c80f47f025dd3831dcf900.jpg

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.

26870251_194438354627590_7428756588292210688_n.jpg.adce7c3c46d883b6326fe4c3027701f6.jpg

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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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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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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