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Tom Sietsema Says Fabio Trabocchi’s Paella Beats José Andrés’ Version

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What the critics are saying this week

Seafood paella at Del Mar.
Del Mar [Official photo]

Del Mar

Washington Post restaurant critic Tom Sietsema crowns what he calls the Wharf’s “splashiest” restaurant to date with three stars (excellent), noting that restaurateur Fabio Trabocchi “does nothing halfway” at three-month-old eatery, Del Mar. All shades of “awesome” are apparent throughout, including its “luscious” food; a dining room with “chic decor”; and the “finesse” of staff members who appear to be styled by GQ. While expensive (brunch can easily run $100 a person), Sietsema says it’s worth the splurge. A raw bar selection resting atop a snail-shaped silver bowl filled with ice, garnished with seaweed, and set on a gold place mat is “the Mar-a-Lago of oyster presentations,” he says. Hand-cut slices of jamon Iberico cost $26 an ounce, but two ounces of spicy sobrasada ($14) deliver “just as much” of a kick, Sietsema says. Hot and cold tapas “reveal some of the kitchen’s best work” and include the foie gras torchon with membrillo (quince paste), a Spanish tortilla with black truffle aioli, and creamy chestnut soup with lobster and a froth of sherry-laced “cappuccino.” And Sietsema declares its shareable rice dishes his current favorite. “Don’t tell José Andrés, but Del Mar dishes up the choicest paella right now,” Sietsema says.


R Family Kitchen & Bar

Sietsema also visits Tapabar’s replacement in the Woodmont Triangle, which aims to appeal to families and draw more traffic. Chef and owner Alonso Roche’s new direction focuses on “sizzle plates,” such as seared steak with fries, served with chimichurri and mojo picon sauces. But “for such a brief menu, the restaurant ought to deliver more exactitude,” Sietsema writes. Chicken wings have “agreeable heat,” but the Caesar salad was “overdressed” and pork spring rolls’ wrappers were way too thick. Other complaints: star anise “overwhelms” a bowl of pho, while salmon is “overcooked.” Positives include roast chicken (best with a side of cauliflower with butter and smoky with Spanish paprika) and hot fudge sundaes decorated with pieces of poundcake, pecan brittle and dulce de leche. The dining room remains largely unchanged from its former look, he adds.


FROM THE BLOGS: DMV Dining checks out All Set in Silver Spring, Maryland, and BYT visits Iron Gate’s Valentine’s-themed pop-up.

R Family Kitchen & Bar

4901-A Fairmont Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814 (240) 483-4004 Visit Website

Del Mar

791 Wharf Street Southwest, , DC 20024 (202) 525-1402 Visit Website

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