Monday, April 11, 2011


If you want to be a writer, don't have a day job! It's been two and a half weeks since we returned from our five week Italian odyssey and despite truly best intentions of posting some follow up stories and photos, writing about our Iron Chef tour of the Eastern seabord and musing about the difference between life in Italy and America, my keyboard has been silent. Life has a way of intruding.

But I would be absolutely remiss if I didn't at least post the briefest tease and an ode to what I am absolutely confident will become one of Washington's hottest restaurants - Fiola di Fabio Trabocchi.

A brief disclaimer and disclosure. I am a tiny, tiny, minuscule, infintessimal investor in Fiola. So you will have to take me at my word, or simply discount all my words, when I say that financial motives play absolutely no part in my admiration for what Fabio and his wife Maria have already created. The moment I wrote my check to Fiola I considered it a downpayment on meals for the upcoming year, an investment in upgraded restaurant seating, not expecting to get paid back. I am a firm believer in the adage that the best way to make a small fortune in the restaurant business is to start with a large fortune. Look, I have run a luxury Italian good import shop for the past decade. I know how to make a small fortune.

So in the briefest way I know how (and those of you who occasionally read my postings know that I am not expert in the ways of brevity), I would like to memorialize my initial impressions of Fabio's restaurant.

Beautiful. For those who may have dined at this 601 Pennsylvania address, formerly le Paradou and before that Bice, the space probably didn't jump out at you. The address itself is confusing, as the entrance is a tiny sliver on Indiana Avenue, not Pennsylvania at all. During the demolition and construction phase I was able to visit and the old space seemed to be closed and dark, the perfect place for a pharmaceutical industy lobbyist to elicit favors from a Congressman (probably a Republican) or his staff. Fiola has transformed the space. It is open, light, and even when full, free. The finish is impeccible. The feel is wonderful.

Hip. The bar area is up front and a level above the dining room. It is open on four sides, has freestanding shelves of spirits in the center. Federico, the general manager, is a tall, Italian looking Italian. The place already, if not oozes style, at least has got some serious leakage.

Delicious. This is where the rubber meets (or perhaps meats) the road. There's a reason Fabio Trabocchi has won all sorts of awards (Food and Wine's Best New Chef 2002, James Beard Award - Best Chef Mid-Atlantic Region 2006) from those in the know. He knows food and he knows how to make it an experience. I won't launch into a complete review of my dinner at Fiola during their soft opening week (although again, those who read this site know that I am capable fo waxing for literally pages on what I eat). Suffice it to say that the five of us who shared a table looking into Fabio's kitchen were the best fed and happiest guinea pigs this side of NIH.

Before my memory competely fails me, I want to at least set down on paper what we sampled during our evening there - each taste intended to assist Fabio and his staff with our feedback. Tough work, but someone had to do it. I'm just glad I was one of them!

(Apologies to Fabio and the kitchen if there are inaccuracies, errors in this account. There was much wine being tested as well, and I and my accomplices that evening were taking our sampling duties quite seriously).

  • A raw oyster served with fish roe as an amuse bouche
  • Burrata served over sundried tomato
  • Panini with mozzarella, prosciutto and basil
  • Crostini with cod cheeks and tomato
  • Panzanella (bread salad)
  • Calamari grigliati served over peppers
  • Carpaccio of tuna served over peppers and tomoto
  • Spaghetti cacio e pepe
  • Parpardelle with trumpet mushrooms
  • Spaghetti with crab and sea urchin
  • Veal chops
  • Branzino
  • Swordfish scarfani (?)

About here is where my memory peters out and my pen runs dry. I will have to solicit my tablemates for their comments and their recollections.

But I can say without hesitation, that while I may not recall every good bite that came my way, I remember enough of them to know that this was a special meal and a special place. I look forward to many happy meals (not the McDonalds variety) at Fiola and hope to see you there soon, as well.

Please post your comments on your experiences at Fiola.  My accountant and I thank you in advance.

Ci vediamo!
Bil and Suzy

1 comment:

Cara said...

Best description: "a tall Italian looking Italian." Only you could come up with that one, Bill!