2012 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012
Every time I eat at Fiola, I'm reminded that Fabio Trabocchi cooked at the four-star (and sadly closed) Maestro in Tysons Corner. Try his meatballs -- soft orbs of finely ground veal, pork and beef crowned with an organic egg -- and you'll understand. The chef's puffy golden veal Milanese, made to order in a pan with fresh sage, is another simple Italian recipe transformed into something sensational. His pasta? Divine. Smoked potato agnolotti containing cod cooked in milk and strewn with seafood in a copper casserole shows off both noodle and fish. My go-to dessert these days is ensaimada, a coil-shaped sweet bread filled with what tastes like creme brulee and a salute to the chef's Spanish wife. While the portions lean to the grandmotherly, the interior is pure chic: Saffron-colored wallpaper draws eyes to the ceiling, the floor appears to be paved in seashells and no one will mistake the glamorous mistress of ceremonies, Maria Trabocchi, for anyone's nonna. Dinner with drinks and wine can cost a small fortune. But visiting Fiola without sipping a liquid wonder from bar ace Jeff Faile is like going to Rome and skipping the Vatican. Go at lunch when a three-course, low-calorie menu for $28 and a same-size “power" lunch for $34 compete for a bargain hunter's attention.
First time, didn't know what to expect, except all the hype from the recent articles and RAMMY win. This place is hopping and when we walked in without a reservation and they offered us a table outside, even on a hot evening, we took it. Ordered the big grill platter they have for the summer and lots of ice to keep our bottle(s) of rose cold. Delicious and magical. I am not sure how it is inside, but outside, we kicked back, relaxed and melted into the night. Will be back soon.
We haven’t been back to Fiola since January. Happy to see the menu so light and full of seafood, fresh veggies and spring/summer items and new pastas. I got scared for a moment, and then I saw the veal chop I came for and a half portion of the lobster ravioli. I had my heart set on them. Both still to die for and did not disappoint. Great service too! We have to make it a point to get back more often.
This past weekend a group of friends and I spent the night eating and drinking on the patio at Fiola. It felt so good to have the heat of the day melt into the cool breeze of the night. We slowly enjoyed eating soft shell crabs, gobs of creamy burrata, sampling different plates of pasta that blew our mind, fighting to get a taste of the meaty veal chop and the delicate branzino. Let’s not forget the wine, lots of it. Sitting at those farm tables outside was like escaping to a vineyard in the middle of the countryside. I really want to thank Fiola, more than anything for such relaxed evening, easy breezy service and outstanding food. I suggest all should try the mix, you just add the friends!
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