Tom Sietsema is happy to see Fabio Trabocchi back in a Washington kitchen after a stint in New York, but the chef's latest endeavor hasn't quite met the critic's high expectations. Sietsema awards Fiola a respectable two-and-a-half stars — not quite the four-star review he gave Maestro back in the day, which he references in the first paragraph.
There are a lot of dishes Sietsema loves: the lasagna, the "silken" cod, oysters that are "glistening with (Mississippi) caviar and an ice flavored with the oysters' liquor," pappardelle pasta tossed with morels and the light Maria Menu named for Trabocchi's wife. Plus, like pretty much everyone else who reviews Fiola, Sietsema is impressed by pastry chef Jason Gehring's bomboloni and mixologist Jeff Faile's cocktail list. But on one visit, the critic says, "so much food went back to the kitchen unfinished ... that our table could have fed another party."
Sietsema also declares his surprise at Fiola's opulence, despite Trabocchi's stated intention of democratizing gastronomy. He's taken with the beauty of the space, but points out that "if customers imbibe, it's easy to spend $100 a person for dinner." This seems more commentary rather than complaint, though, as the critic sprinkles words like "elegant," "regal" and "beautiful" throughout the review. [WaPo]
Todd Kliman visits a Gaithersburg strip mall and finds a taco joint comparable to a three-star restaurant, Tortacos. The critic craves the restaurant's al pastor and carnitas varieties, along with one other interesting observation: "The bathroom is immaculate. I would say that it's like being at a friends' house, except that I have friends who are not nearly so conscientious." [Washingtonian]
THE BLOGS: DC-Wrapped Dates takes a first look at Lost Society; Don Rockwell explains why you should go to Ray's Hell Burger Too instead of Ray's Hell Burger; Florida Girl In DC samples the menu at the brand-new America Eats Tavern.
[AJ Chavar, 4/11]