After our 3 visits to Fiola Mare this year, we settled in last night for a multi-course dinner at the parent restaurant, FIOLA, owned by Chef Fabio Trabocchi and his wife Maria. On arrival to my surprise, the new executive chef in the kitchen was the awesome Ed Scarpone, recently of DBGB, who told us he had been there only 3 months, but seems settles in quite well. The evening before, our server Joshua told us to ask for his friend Anton at the sister restaurant, and to our surprise, he was indeed our server, and another excellent one at that. Again, here, the staff is sublime and efficient, ready to assist with your every need. Nothing went wrong all evening, although if I had to ask for one thing it would be for gentlemen to be more kinder when urinating in the men's room (you know what I mean guys!) and I think they need to have someone on staff check it every hour or so.....sadly.
I ordered a Bellagio to start with Vodka, Elderberry shrub, Cocchi Rosa, Prosecco and an edible flower. It was gorgeous, delicious and just right again; not sweet, but slightly herbal. Delamotte Brut Champagne arrived next as we were served an amuse of Crispy Savory Cannoli with Mascarpone, Foie Gras, Chives and gold leaf on the outside; it was as pretty as it was tasty. Be sure to check out the FB photos! Magnificent flaky puff-pastry like rolls with cheese, seasoning and herbs arrived that were irresistible and we had to tell them to stop bringing more!!
The décor here is elegant with tall columns filled with see through (fake) trees, glossy dark tabletops, a huge sunken dining room below the bar with cushy chairs and banquettes. The tables here are a bit closer in some places than might be expected, but overall it oozes class.
We all wowed when the first course arrived: White Asparagus Three ways: Poached, Grilled Hearts and Shaved Raw on top with Egg Confit, Morels (from Oregon), Grilled Ramps, Mustard and drizzled with Extra Vecchio (25 year old+) Balsamico from an eye dropper.. It was a dream dish, which Will declared the best asparagus dish he had ever had on earth; I had to agree.
Jennifer, the head sommelier was eager to explain each wine and its origins and for the next course we had "from Black to White" Il Bianco 2014 from Zyme, a blend of Garganica and Trebbiano from Veneto which at first I thought might be too light for the rich pasta, but worked out perfectly. Cappelletti filled with Beef Cheek & Foie Gras in an awesome Bone Marrow Broth with black Garlic and more wild ramps!! Yum, this is the season for so much good vegetables!
Scallops from Hokkaido in Japan came seared to perfection with Manila Clams, Fish Foam, Plankton Powder, Crunchy Sea Beans, Meyer Lemon, Sweet Spring Onion Compote and SIX kinds of seaweed. It was hard to taste each element, but fun to try and enjoy the so many flavors of this wonderfully conceived creation. It was paired with a Ca' Marcanda 2013 from Vistamare in Tuscany (owned by Gaja) made from Vermentino & Viognier that had an amazing creaminess and acidity as well.
This was followed by a Chateau de Pibarnon 2014 Bandol from Eric de Saint-Victor which was 90% Mourvedre and 10% Grenache and drinking so beautifully despite its youth. It has a perfume in the nose, but in the mouth the flavors were all smoky.
The meat course it was served with was a beautiful roulade of Lamb with its own Jus, Green Asparagus, Chickpea, Ramps, Fava Beans and the most delicate yet delicious glazed Lamb Sweetbreads. Again, flavors burst at every new bite on the plate, but alas, we were so full, we had to take the remainder home--so we get t have it again on Monday!
We asked for a small cheese course and Anton explained that all these unpasteurized cheeses come from one purveyor named Renato Brancaleone in Italy who ages them in limestone pits!
Birbette was a cow with Bavarian lager washed rind
Pecorino Alle More Selvatiche is a sheep that is wrapped in wild blackberry
Blu di Montefeltro was one of the most beautiful blues I have ever had from Italy.
they are accompanied by the paper thinnest of flatbreads, thin toasted fruit bread, fig jam and macerated Harry's Strawberries, which I am now in love with.
Jennifer offered a real treat with Domaine Weinbach Cuvee Laurence 2014 Gewurtztraminer which was so sweet and so peppery and so delicious. I mentioned that I had the pleasure of meeting Colette Faller, the matriarch of the winery in her home some 12 years ago for a private tasting and Jennifer told me that she had passed away a couple of years ago; I am so sorry.
Strawberry Sorbet with Rhubarb and a Lime "sponge" cake was a palate cleanser before the dessert of Gianduja Mousse (chocolate from Peru) with Alba caramelized Hazelnuts & White Chocolate sheets arrived paired with a sweet-sheery-like Ben Rye 2014 from Donnafugata in Sicily. It was a cross between caramel & vanilla and we added it to our must stop wineries this summer!
We rolled home, but have to say that fine dining still exists in DC and I am so happy we have found these places where one can relax all evening and truly savor the wines and foods and delicacies that make a meal so special with such excellent service as well.!!