Has anyone been to Fiola on Indiana Avenue, near the Archives? I walked by earlier tonight and it looks like a nice place. I couldn't find any discussion of it on Chowhound or any reviews on any of the sites I usually use for such things. It looked nice, though I somewhat suspect that it's out of my price range.
I was just curious to see if anyone's been there, and what they thought. Thanks.
We went on Saturday night. We were pretty disappointed. They've done a nice job with the space, and it is quite a scene. But the food was not memorable. The four of us had fifteen courses between us. They ranged from decent (the foie gras, the parpardelle) to fair (most things) to poor (the clam crudo, the risotto with rubbery cod -- both of these on the four course tasting menu). I always regretted not making it to Maestro. Now I will wonderr what all the fuss was about.
I went a couple of weeks ago with four other Chowhounds. I am two minds about Fiola.
First, it is a slam-dunk restaurant, one where you will eat well no matter what you choose. One of the few in the DC area. As mentioned above by Ashburnian, the vitello tonatto is a must order. Do not miss this. A dish where a masterful chef lets his skills shine in every bite.
Whatever else we chose had neither the lusty deliciousness of rustic food nor the excitement and creativity of a highly skilled chef. It all seemed very safe. At this point, I might prefer going to Bibiana or Siroc, where I may chance more lowpoints, but will enjoy the meal more.
So there you have it, one of DC's finest restaurants can be a bore. For the record, we also tried the lobster ravioli, sea urchin and crab pasta, snapper, squash blossom fritters (these were better recently at Pupatella), and his version of lasagna.
915 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005
1100 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20005
5104 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203
My wife and I were quite excited to try out Fiola, as we had heard it was aiming to be DC's next four-star Italian restaurant. We arrived at 7:45 for our 8:00 p.m. dinner reservation and checked in with the hostesses. No table was ready, so we sat at the bar approximately six feet from the hostess station. We proceeded to wait, and wait, and wait some more. At no point did any of the three hostesses working that night bother to apologize, check in, or explain why it was taking so long. Nor were we offered any appetizers (free or otherwise) to eat while we waited. At one point another party of two that didn’t have reservations AND arrived after us got seated, while we were still waiting. (We know that they didn’t have reservations and were seated before us because we were seated at the bar six feet from the hostess station, so we overheard every conversation.) Finally, at 8:48 (OVER ONE HOUR AFTER CHECK-IN), our table was ready. When the first ordered food finally arrived, at 9:30 p.m., it seemed quite tasty but who knows when you’re that hungry.
Also, Fiola, if you’re listening, we would have gladly paid for the five-course tasting menu had we been seated promptly. But given how long that can take, I just didn’t have it in me given how late we were seated. You would make more money off of us had you seated us promptly, and we might even have given you a better review and been more willing to consider going back.
At any rate, the total bill was $150 for two pasta appetizers (the spaghetti Bolognese special, and the lobster ravioli, both of which were very good but not great), one shared entrée (the braised beef short ribs, where were boneless and ridiculously tender) and one shared dessert (the ricotta donuts, easily the best part of the meal); at this price point, which doesn’t include alcohol, I expect better treatment. The spaghetti’s sauce was heavy and substantial, though I would have preferred a bit more meat (perhaps some wild boar ragu). The pasta itself was comparable to that of Galileo III. Lobster ravioli was full of lobster, but could have used a bit more other flavor to complement it, if you ask me. Short ribs were, as mentioned, quite tender and had a good flavor, plus excellent marbling. The ricotta donuts were fantastic, with great texture and just the right amount of sweetness.
In fairness, I should say that while the three hostesses (Why do you need three when none of them bother checking in with waiting patrons? Couldn’t one person “not check in” just as easily as three?) did nothing about our wait, at least the bartenders checked in frequently and comped us with prosecco for our troubles. Fiola, if you’re really aiming to be a four-star destination, you could start by treating properly your customers who have reservations and want to pay you to eat nice food. The intake process is your first interaction with potential diners, and if that goes poorly you’ve created a bad first impression. As we all know, it’s very difficult to overcome negative first impressions. Here’s hoping others have better luck with Fiola.
We thoroughly enjoyed our entire dining experience at Fiola last night. The service got off to a slow start as we waited a few extra minutes for the somelier. After that small hitch, our party of four had one of the best meals of our lives. From the appetizers to the pastas to then perfectly prepared fish and really inventive and delicious desserts. As food professionals in DC for the Food Show, we have shared meals in many restaurants in many cities, this was a meal we will remember.