Fiola Shines in Penn Quarter

28 Dec

A few weeks ago, I went out to dinner for a girls’ night with a bunch of my close friends in DC. We weren’t celebrating any special occasion, but it had been awhile since all of us were together and we decided to have a fun night out at Fiola, one of the newer and more acclaimed restaurants to open this year.

While I had never been to Fabio Trabocchi’s original restaurant, Maestro, I have always heard great things about his food and reputation, and I was very excited to try his new venue that has been receiving rave reviews all year. We knew this meal would put a dent in our wallets, but we were ready for a fun and memorable evening.

First things first, we had to find Fiola! A word to the wise: while the address says Pennsylvania Avenue, it actually leads you to the back of the restaurant. Turns out that you need to go around to Indiana Avenue to come across the entrance. Tricky, indeed.

Dates stuffed with fois gras wrapped in prosciutto

Once we all gathered and had some cocktails, we were seated to our table. I had heard that Jeff Faile’s cocktails weren’t to be missed, so I ordered a Milan Mule, which was his take on a Moscow Mule but was concocted with Plymouth gin, Amaro Abano, lime juice, and Blenheim ginger ale.

There were seven of us, so we split two bottles of tasty prosseco throughout the meal. The first item brought to our table was their incredible homemade rolls. These were more like buttery croissants or brioche buns as opposed to traditional rolls, and they were a great indication of what was to time. I swear I would go back to Fiola in a heartbeat just for these rolls alone.

We split two appetizers for the table and were very happy with both. First up were the Fiola meatballs, topped with a sunny side up egg and Pecorino Toscano. I’m starting to learn that everything tastes better with a runny egg on it, and these were no exception. The meatballs were wonderful and the sauce was irresistible. The bread we had wasn’t the best for dipping, but we made sure there was nothing left in the bowl.

Fiola meatballs

Next up was one of the restaurant’s daily specials. If they are offering it, do not hesitate to order the dates stuffed with fois gras wrapped in prosciutto and served with generous shavings of Parmesan and drizzled with balsamic. There were only a few dates, so we cut them up for everyone to try. It might not have been the best way to sample it as it is meant to be a singular burst of flavor, but I still savored each bite.

There were so many appealing entrees to choose from that it was hard to make a decision, especially since you can order most fresh pastas as half portions if you are torn between pasta and something else. In the end, I knew I had to get Fabio’s signature dish that was a carryover from Maestro, and that would be the lobster ravioli. It just sounded too good to pass up, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed.

Lobster Ravioli

The waiter informed me that the dish consists of one and a half pounds of lobster in total, and I believed him once it was placed in front of me. In the dish were giant chunks of lobster claw and tail sitting in a lobster broth, not to mention even more chunks of lobster stuffed inside the ravioli, which more closely resembled thin wontons. I loved the delicate pasta with the meat inside as opposed to the commonly found version of pureed lobster with cheese. The lobster itself was infused with ginger and the sauce was creamy but somehow not heavy at all. I was in heaven. I don’t think I’ll order it if I come back, only because there are so many other appealing dishes on the menu that I want to try.

We were completely stuffed at this point, but we wanted to try at least one dessert to see what they were like, so we ordered the Bombolini. The dolce comprised of donuts filled with ricotta and were topped with powdered sugar. There was also marmalade and gelato to dip the donuts in, and they were great fluffy bites to share amongst the table. They reminded me of the zeppoles from Graffiato, and I have to admit, I think these were even better.

With the bill came more sweets, including a tiny macaron and a piece of chocolate with cream inside. I always love when restaurants give an extra treat to send us home.


I should also mention just how wonderful the service was. We were a large party with a baby and stroller and they were definitely accommodating to us. When our entrees came, a few of them seemed to be more room temperature as opposed to hot, and when we said something, the waiter quickly took them away and brought up fresh dishes for us within minutes. While some of us were waiting for our dishes to come back, he even poured some extra prosecco into our glasses to make up for the delay. We certainly appreciated the gesture.

Overall, we were all very full and content when we left the restaurant. Fiola is certainly not somewhere I would go on a regular basis as it was certainly an expensive meal, but everything tasted like it was prepared with great care and simply tasted of a higher caliber. I was definitely eying some of my friends’ dishes, like the homemade lasagna, the short ribs, arctic char, bucatini, gnocchi, and scallops.

I should note that Fiola also has a “Presto!” lunch special where you have your choice of entrée and a beverage for only $15.  There are only half a dozen entrees to choose from, but it’s a great way to try Fiola without breaking the bank. There’s also a happy hour from 4pm to 6pm that features $6 cocktails and glasses of prosecco. So whether you go for lunch, happy hour, or dinner, do not miss out on Fiola. I’m sure glad I didn’t.

Fiola on Urbanspoon

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