Restaurants often evolve in one of two ways: downhill slow or downhill fast. Rare is the place that can withstand the forces of decline. Rarer still is the place that actually matures and improves.
A mild disappointment when it opened in 2011 after Fabio Trabocchi—who commanded the kitchen at Maestro, the area’s best restaurant in the mid-aughts—returned from a sabbatical in New York, today Fiola is the restaurant the James Beard Award-winning chef envisioned. Exquisitely balanced between rusticity and elegance, it’s not merely the best Italian restaurant in DC but one of the best Italian restaurants in the country.
Pastas are Trabocchi’s métier, and he can turn what might have been heavy—a simple noodle with black pepper and Parmesan, say—into a dish of exceptional balance and clarity. He’s no less magical with fish, understanding that it demands both more thoughtfulness when it comes to conception and less handling when it comes to execution.
Don’t miss: Foie gras with chestnut toast; chestnut soup; veal-cheek risotto; pappardelle with hare ragu; potato agnolotti; bucatini with prawns and sea urchin; prosciutto-wrapped veal chop with hazelnuts; branzino with Malpeque oysters; turbot in a tomato broth with calamari;zuppa inglese; bombolini (Sardinian-style ricotta doughnuts).
Open: Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner.