29 June 2015

Dinner at Fiola makes a delicious trifecta

Almost three years after my first visit to Fiola for a staff celebration lunch, I finally made a return visit for dinner. It was as marvelously fabulous as our team lunch and fully lived up to my (high) expectations. IMG_1264

This was also the third dinner I’ve had at Fabio Trabocchi’s fantastic Italian restaurants in Washington, DC. And as the headline for this post implies, they were three grand events. I wrote about Casa Luca earlier this year (click here for that post). I reviewed Fiola Mare a year ago (click here for that post). And just for the record, here’s my original 2012 post about my lunch experience at Fiola.

My dinner at Fiola was on a warm Saturday evening. I debated whether to take an outside table, and finally opted ‘yes.’ The restaurant’s outdoor tables are on a wide plaza along a lightly traveled street, but just a block off of Pennsylvania Ave. It was very pleasant.

My server was great. Since I had just flown late in the afternoon, my reservation was a little later than the usual dinner time. I don’t know if that was a factor, but he was very accommodating and helpful in his advice and recommendations.

To start, I ordered a burrata on pesto topped with asparagus, a parmesan crisp, and beets. I almost didn’t order it, because I’m not particularly fond of beets. But it was delicious. (The beets, by the way, remained on the side of the plate uneaten.) As you can see in the photo, my server also brought me an ‘amuse’ from the chef, a demitasse of gazpacho. It was great. It has motivated me to find some gazpacho recipes to make this summer when vine-ripened tomatoes are available at the farmers market.

For my entrĂ©e, I ordered agnolotti stuffed with lamb and served with mushrooms. The house-made pasta was fresh and very tender. The agnolotti were served in a flavorful sauce. When I asked if it was a cream sauce, my server informed me that it was simply butter and little pasta water. Fabulous. (Something else I’ve got to try at home.) IMG_1267

I was tempted by dessert, but decided not to. However before I got up to leave, my server returned with a jug of limoncello. Only this limoncello was the color of blood orange. Very impressive, very good, much appreciated.

So the headline reference to ‘trifecta’ implies some kind of horse race and begs the question of what order would I rate them. Of the three Fabio Trabocchi restaurants, I’d rate Fiola Mare as No. 3. It would be tough, however, to choose between Fiola and Casa Luca. The food and service at each was equally impressive. Both are expensive even by DC standards. Because of that, I suppose either one would be considered a special occasion dinner spot. Luca purports to be a family friendly osteria. So to that extent, it’s somewhat more casual (though you would not feel over-dressed if you were wearing a suit). But for an over-the-top celebration dinner, I guess I’d opt for Fiola.

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