100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: Fiola

No. 13 on this year's list.
Fiola turns oysters into a work of art, with lemon, basil, oyster granita, and smoked steelhead-salmon roe. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Look to one end of the dining room at Fabio Trabocchi’s Penn Quarter Italian restaurant and you’ll see cream leather banquettes overarched with gleaming midcentury-modern lamps. But turn your gaze to the other side and it will be met with a craggy stone wall that looks imported from a Tuscan farmhouse. The contrast between rustic and sleek extends to the kitchen, too.

Trabocchi, the area’s top Italian chef, is famous for his pastas, and he handles homey (a wonderful cacio e pepe on the bar menu) as deftly as he does delicate (his signature purses of lobster in a subtle ginger sauce). Entrées hover in the $40 range, but portions are big—most salads and starters seem sized to be shared, even if the servers don’t always tell you that. And there are good deals at lunch, when a three-course menu runs $28. 

Open: Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. 

Don’t miss: Burrata with beets and pesto; oysters with limoncello; Wagyu-beef tartare; seared foie gras with figs; tuna carpaccio with roasted tomatoes, yuzu, and lemon; pappardelle with wild-boar ragu; spaghetti with prawns and sea urchin; ricotta doughnuts; cream-filled brioche with burnt-honey gelato. 

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.