WASHINGTON, February 28, 2012 — Bucatini served with prawns and lobster in a light chili sauce. Grilled branzino with oysters, leeks and dressed with a lemony-Prosecco sauce. A chunky, spicy Ahi tuna tartar served in a mason jar.
These are the kinds of inspired dishes that in ten short months have made Fiola one of DC’s hottest restaurants.
Chef Fabio Trabocchi is part owner of this upscale trattoria. As a native of Italy, he infuses Fiola with Italian spirit.
Trabocchi grew up in Italy’s Le Marche region and by 16 years old was working in the kitchen of a three-star Michelin restaurant, Gualtiero Marchesi, and by18, he was responsible for the entire kitchen staff at the Michelin one-star Navalge Moena.
Later, Trabocchi landed in London, where he began to showcase his own culinary style at the celebrated Floriana, where he won the Carlton Award for London’s Best Young Chef in 1999. The acclaim, in turn, earned him the attention of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which invited him to design his own kitchen and create the vision and concept for Maestro in the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia.
It wasn’t long before he was named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef of 2002. By 2006, Trabocchi had earned the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Soon after opening his own restaurant, Fiola in the heart of DC’s Penn Quarter, last April Esquire Magazine pronounced it one of the country’s “Best New Restaurants.”
Though Fiola’s address reads Pennsylvania Avenue, its doors actually front the surprisingly quiet Indiana. Sleek high style—think clean lines, wood and glass—are mellowed by the warm, convivial spirit inside. (Design junkies should peek their heads into the women’s bathroom, where a mélange of textures like tiles, mosaics and a pressed poppy petal ceiling create a feminine oasis.)
While the restaurant is awfully good looking, it’s the menu that that shines the brightest.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a time of day Fiola isn’t hopping. Lunch doors swing open at 11:30 and within minutes the crowd swarms into the restaurant and the bar, where a new pre-fixe menu has recently been added, springs to life. (Sundays are Fiola’s sole day of rest.)
In recent months America has gone mad for meatballs, and DC is no exception. Chef Trabocchi shares his own, traditional recipe learned from his Italian family. His special touch? A perfectly fried egg on top.
Meatballs: Executive Chef Fabio Trabocchi
1lb Ground Beef
1lb Ground Veal
½ lb Ground Pork
3 Garlic Cloves
3 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 Egg Yolks
2 C Grated Pecorino Romano
6 Tablespoon Chopped Italian Parsley
3 C White Bread
3 C Cream
1 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1 C Canola Oil for Sautéing the Balls
Cook the garlic cloves over low heat in a small sauce pan with 3T of Extra Virgin Olive Oil until soft and translucent. Set aside to cool down and press the cloves of the garlic with a back of a spoon. In a bowl, soak the bread in the cream until completely soaked. Leave time to allow the top part of the bread to be soaked as much as the bottom. Place all the ingredients in a bowl including the garlic with oil and the soaked bread. Fold well let it rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Form into small balls. Heat oil in large sauté pan. Working in small batches, saute the meatballs until golden brown and cooked through.
An inveterate traveler, Andrea Poe writes frequently about travel for national and international publications. You can email Andrea at andcpoe at gmail dot com or follow her travel notes as andpoe on Twitter. She is also editor of Food & Travel at The Washington Times Communities.
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