First Look: Fiola Mare
ashleywright | stephanie | Mar 6, 2014 | 11:30AM |

All photos: Stephanie Breijo
All words: Ashley Wright

Chef Fabio Trabocchi has done it again.

Inspired by his childhood on the Marche coast of Italy, Trabocchi gives D.C. the gift of Fiola Mare. The new Georgetown restaurant offers daily lunch and dinner service as well as brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, right on the water. Devotees of Trabocchi’s Fiola and Casa Luca can look forward to enjoying the same quality ingredients and impeccable attention to detail that make his cuisine the epitome of fresh Italian fare.

The main dining room, sun-drenched and beautifully appointed in warm neutrals with dark metallic accents, looks out onto the river through large windows and large glass doors. Resplendent in warm woods and bright blues, the patio space is enclosed at the moment; as the temperature rises, expect al fresca dining. Trabocchi also plans to put seating on the boardwalk itself this summer for a true on-the-water experience. Diners can take in the stunning views of the Potomac and, if they choose a seat on the patio, the stately silhouette of the Kennedy Center from the comfort of their table.

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For a more private affair, customers can book the 12-seat Chef’s Table, housed in its own room. This table can be closed off from the rest of the dining space or opened onto an elegant private dining room with its own bar. For those who would like to explore Fiola Mare’s stellar cocktail program, there’s both a front and a back bar area in which to enjoy some of Bar Manager Luca Giovannini’s unique creations.

We were fortunate enough to try the Uno Speciale, which features Cappelliti Aperitivo, Tanqueray Gin, Peach Bitters, Prosecco, and a sugar cube at the bottom of the glass. The sugar ensures a stream of delightful perpetual bubbles to enjoy as you sip. We loved the fruity, sweet notes of the Stella Cadente, which is comprised of a light Zaya 12 Year Rum, sweet Cocchi Rosa, and a zing of lime juice. My favorite of the bunch was the darker undertones of the Sapore Vero, which uses Amaro Montenegro and Carpano Bianco Vermouth to highlight the bite of the Redemption Rye whisky. The cocktail menu and selection is almost overwhelming in its comprehensiveness. Fiola Mare’s wine menu features some of Chef Trabocchi’s favorites as well as almost anything else you could want to complement his outstanding cuisine.

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However spectacular the views, the cocktails, and the decor may be, the real focus of this venture is the menu. The selection changes daily, but each iteration features different takes on fresh, mostly locally sourced fish. Chef Trabocchi places a lot of emphasis on environmentally responsible business practices, which he translates seamlessly into procuring the freshest ingredients available.

After choosing a menu item, diners at Fiola Mare have the luxury of hand-picking the fish or shellfish for their dish from that day’s selection, which will be displayed on a bed of ice in front of the open kitchen. The fish they select is prepared to perfection and then, if appropriate, filleted table-side for them to enjoy.

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Because Fiola Mare’s menu is seafood-centric, Trabocchi highlights the subtle flavor of the delicate fish without overpowering it. Never too rich and always uniquely satisfying, each item is balanced and presented beautifully. Almost all of the dishes on each day’s menu are unique to Fiola Mare; Fiola and Casa Luca have their own, completely distinct, menus. (One exception to this rule is the Fiola Maine Lobster Ravioli, which is also available at Fiola.)

We were lucky enough to get to try a few bites of the Fiola Mare Oysters & Caviar. Made up of Spoonbill caviar, champagne Zabaglione and chives, we were expecting the dish to be rich and heavy but found it light and frothy instead, perfectly balancing the subtle sweetness of the oysters and the saltiness of the caviar. The fluffy champagne Zabaglione added a pleasing variety of texture in a dish that could have been all soft and silkiness. The chives provided a pop of color, which was a theme we saw throughout the visit – each dish had at least one bright hue, and every room had a few touches of color to enliven the otherwise neutral palette.

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The desserts we sampled–the Baba al Rhum, a confection of vanilla crema, pear marmellata, toasted Alba hazelnuts and pasty; and the Spumone, a light, refreshing dish of pistachio and olive oil gelato complemented by Amarena cherries and green strawberries–bore this same light yet flavorful signature.

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A unique dish at this iteration of Fiola is the Chocolate Bon Bon dessert: four bon bons are served in their own specially prepared box at each table, ready to be plucked out by admiring fingers.

We were impressed by every aspect of our experience here. The space, the food, the atmosphere, the people–everything was gorgeous. Make your reservations now, because Fiola Mare is your new favorite date spot.

Fiola Mare is located at 3050 K Street NW, Suite 101 and is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM, dinner Monday through Thursday 5:30 PM to 10:30 PM, Friday and Saturday 5 PM to 11 PM, and Sunday 5 PM to 9 PM. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 AM to 3 PM.

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