There is an abundance of upscale Italian restaurants in DC. Out of all of them, my favorite is Fiola, Fabio Trabocchi’s Northern Italian fine dining restaurant. I went when it first opened in 2011 was blown away. I was so impressed by the food that I literally ate myself sick that night. I came back twice during for Restaurant Week lunches, where I managed to both enjoy the food and leave in a healthy state of body and mind. A few months ago, I returned with my boyfriend (at the time), RH4, to celebrate his 31st birthday. I had a hard time picking exactly where to go because while the ex loves good quality food, he is also an extremely picky eater who does not like sushi (you know it is love when you can overcome someone’s disdain for sushi), mushrooms, meats that are served with a face/head still attached, or anything too avant garde. Fiola seemed like a good, inoffensive option with its selection of pastas, and simple meat dishes that taste both rich and decadent (this may have played a part in the ending of my first meal there) so I was excited to come back for this special occasion.
The restaurant itself is elegant and relaxed. The dark, wooden furniture makes the dining room warm and inviting and the loud buzzing of the guests gives the impression that everyone is as excited to be eating as you are. We started with their warm foccacia bread drizzled in olive oil. I am a big fan, but tried to keep that carb consumption to a minimum since I knew we would be taking a long ride on the pasta train shortly. Our first appetizer was the buffalo Mozzarella burrata with endives, baby Artichokes, parsnip cream, anchovies, and a Basil Genovese pesto. This colorful dish just looks so beautiful it should be considered a work of art. Luckily, it tastes as wonderful as it looks. The creamy burrata melts in your mouth and manages to taste rich and light at the same time. The anchovies adds the perfect almost of saltiness to the dish without overwhelming the other flavors. Even RH4, a normally unwavering anchovy hater, admitted he did not mind the taste.
Our second dish was a half order of the squid ink spaghetti with prawns, mussels, sea urchin, roasted San Marzano tomatoes, and chilies. Overall, a good dish (and relatively large size for a half order) that did not hold back on the seafood.
We split two main dishes: a full order of the pappardelle and the steak. The pappardelle with veal ragu, mushrooms, prosciutto, parmigiano bonati and oregano was by far my favorite dish of the night. The different elements manage to swirl together to create one cohesive unit that was hearty, decadent, and wonderfully satisfying. The steak (medium rare), served with a side of sweet corn crema, was declared the star of the show by RH4. It was thick, perfectly cooked, and just tasted simply great.
Overall, it was a wonderfully memorable meal. As Trabocchi explains, “Fiola” is a term of endearment similar to “Sweetheart.” I left the restaurant with the kind of joy that only a near perfect meal…. or a sweetheart, can leave you with. Thank you, Fiola.