Note: Britt’s comments in italics
I couldn’t resist heading over to Fiola as soon as it opened. I love Italian food, Fabio is an amazing chef and Jeff Faile is one of the best mixologists I have come across in DC, add in the 10% discount during the soft opening and it was a no brainer. Britt and her husband joined Ilyssa and I for dinner, and while I don’t think it’s fair to give a full review based on a soft opening, we’ll give our first impressions.
The restaurant is a little hard to find, the address says Pennsylvania, but you actually enter the restaurant off of Indiana. Valet parking is available for $8.00. As we walked in to Fiola, located in Penn Quarter, we passed their soon to be open outdoor patio, which will be a great spot to enjoy a few cocktails outside. Fiola was designed by the same team that designed the interior of Proof. It is a beautiful restaurant with a variety of textures, sleek, highly polished wood, stack stone walls, and super cool light fixtures.
Our evening began with several cocktails expertly prepared by Jeff Faile, former mixologist at Palena. We love Jeff, so we’re a bit biased, but his drinks are really delicious, and he is a walking encyclopedia of cocktails. I usually ask Jeff to surprise me, and I am never disappointed. I had a stiff bourbon cocktail, and Britt ordered a Yolanda – I’m still not entirely sure what this was made with it was delicious and purple!
In true EatMore DrinkMore fashion, we ordered and drank way too much and really enjoyed our meal. The meal began with butter rolls, which were essentially crossaints – really, really good croissants. I am a croissant snob, I can’t stand the croissants they serve at Starbucks. Who orders those things? They’re awful. Anyway, as I peeled open the croissant, hot steam was released and their flaky interior was exposed. Upon first bite, I knew it was one of the best rolls I have ever had. I couldn’t fathom why you would even need to dip it in the olive oil and seasoning on the table. Dip a butter roll into a plate of olive oil? That seems a bit over the top, it was, and it was delicious. BLT Steak has popovers that keep you coming you back, Fiola is no different. If I had to judge the popover at BLT and the butter roll at Fiola head to head, (that would be the greatest night ever) I think Fiola would win.
We ordered Burrata, Chick Pea Fritters, Razor Clams, and Speck Salad as appetizers and first courses. The burrata was creamy and delicious and worth a try if you’ve never had it. The chick pea fritters were fried but not heavy or greasy at all. I would definitely recommend getting the chick pea fritters. They were one of the highlights of the meal. I adored the razor clams drizzled with olive oil, ginger and citrus accompanied by grilled slices of bread.
The lobster ravioli tasted great and seems to be what Fabio is famous for. If you’re not familiar with this signature dish from Maestro, you may feel that it doesn’t really fit into the menu. The lobster was infused with ginger and wrapped in wonton wrappers, the dish was delicious but certainly had a decidedly Asian spin on it. If you ordered this dish in an Asian influenced restaurant you would be thrilled, if you’re looking for a typical Lobster Ravioli, you’re not going to find it here. If you find yourself missing the days of Maestro, then go ahead and order the Lobster Ravioli, that pleasure will set you back a stiff $30. I went with the braised short ribs, which were unbelievable tender, and it was by far one of the most attractive plates of short ribs, I have ever been served (see picture below).
The lasagna, another signature dish, had five thin layers of home-made pasta and ground meat. Unlike your traditional lasagne,this did not have red sauce, but it was a savory delight. I would highly recommend ordering this dish. We also ordered the beef short rib and the meat literally fell off the bone and the I PACCHERI a Neapolitan maccheroni, tomato-braised oxtail, “Vaccinara” Style. Both meat dishes were hearty stick to your ribs style Italian but nothing felt overwhelming heavy which I think is the sign of a true Italian master.
We’re thrilled that Fiola has joined the DC dining scene and we’re excited to see what they have in store.