The following review appears in The Washington Post’s 2019 Fall Dining Guide.

Sunday Brunch diners at Fiola Mare. (Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post)


Up rolls a cart with a school of fish on ice, and onto our table goes sea robin on a giant silver, octopus-shaped platter. But not before our choice of fish has been carved into sashimi (and lit with ginger) and chopped into tartare (and spiced like ’nduja) back in the kitchen. The two-part appetizer makes a swell impression, like so much else at Fabio Trabocchi’s deluxe Italian seafood restaurant on the Georgetown waterfront.

Even the dishes that everyone else does seem more refined in the hands of executive chef Anton Bolling. Spaghetti and clams (razor, Manila and surf) looks as if Prada styled it — along with the server’s dashing suit. Trout shares its plate with a corn-and-almond salad and rich corn juice fragrant with truffle paste. Looking for a vegetable to round out your meal? Spring for glossy sauteed spinach or the caramelized eggplant, sticky and delicious with (trend alert!) black garlic molasses. “Fabio’s favorite,” says a waiter.

Your loss if you leave before dessert. Fiola Mare serves a dream of a tiramisu, crowned with chocolate sorbet and a dark chocolate tuile. Over the top, perhaps, but also elegant.

3 stars (Excellent)

Fiola Mare: 3050 K St. NW. 202-628-0065. .

Open: Dinner daily, lunch Tuesday through Friday, brunch weekends.

Prices: Dinner mains $22-$65.

Sound check: 76 decibels / Must speak with raised voice.


The following review appeared in The Washington Post’s 2017 Fall Dining Guide.

A seafood tower served al fresco at Fiola Mare. (Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post)

Fiola Mare’s seafood is worth the plunge


Here’s the rare roof under which you can find both stellar food and views — not just of the Potomac River outside, but of A-listers (actor Matthew Modine, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) at the next table. No dish leaves the exhibition kitchen less than beautiful. Witness the oysters, nestled with little cucumber balls and bright roe in a shell-shaped dish, which teeters on a mound of shaved ice strewn with cool seaweed. Veal ragu is fine, but you come here to splurge on the bounty of the sea, such as sweet clams and tangy tomato sauce over spaghetti with the right snap or tuna crudo presented in Christmas colors. Let me amend that: Risotto enriched with Parmesan and finished with a fortune of shaved black truffles is a worthy diversion, too, especially if someone else is picking up the tab. As fetching as everything tat comes before them are the desserts, maybe a decadent chocolate terrine with pistachios. Did I mention the service? To watch the waiter fillet whole turbot table-side is to imagine him a surgeon on the side.

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The following review appeared in The Washington Post’s 2016 Fall Dining Guide.

Grilled red sea bream is served tableside. (Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post)

Grilled squid at Fiola Mare. (Joseph Victor Stefanchik/For The Washington Post)

A fashionable showcase for jewels of the sea

If Fabio Trabocchi ever wants to ditch the kitchen, he should consider fashion. There’s nothing in his restaurant empire that isn’t beautiful. Look around his sweeping seafood statement on the Georgetown waterfront. How many dining rooms take you on a first-class cruise? The food is just what you expect: supremely fresh ingredients, sometimes staged as if they were jewels in a case or flowers in a vase. “Under the Sea” brings together pristine sea urchin, madai sashimi, red king prawns and crisp sea beans in a pool of clear tomato water. Not everything is fussed over; if you want Dover sole or Spanish turbot, the kitchen is game to serve you just that — whole, grilled and neatly filleted at the table by someone who could pass for a model. Pastas are prime. My current fascination drapes cloud-soft gnocchi with monkfish ragu and chopped razor clams, a seduction finished with a kiss of buttery wine sauce. Just as rich is the people-watching. Glance up from your plate, and you might catch POTUS, FLOTUS or both joining the pageant.


The following review appeared in The Washington Post’s 2015 Fall Dining Guide.

The most sumptuous two-fer in town is food by Fabio Trabocchi and a view of the Potomac River. The sweeping interior could pass for a super-yacht populated with cute young things, men watched over by men with earpieces and, invariably, a TV star or famous byline. The menu, mostly Italian and focused on fish, is every bit as seductive as the scenery. I once came for brunch, ordered the over-the-top seafood tower, and almost stayed for dinner. Salmon crudo on a lick of horseradish cream appears to have been laid out by a jeweler (caviar helps), and creamy bucatini alla carbonara is about as good as pasta gets (love the duck egg garnish). All the while, dashing waiters keep things cruising along. Fiola Mare is where I take visitors who think Washington can’t possibly be sexy or delicious, much less both.