June 16, 2011

Pasta in the Penn Quarter

It was the last day of May and the weather in Washington DC was sweltering - 100º F and humid. As I walked from my office to Fiola the heat seemed to be draining my energy and resolve to continue the journey. Upon arriving at the restaurant I met my aunt and we were seated at our table relieved to be back inside air conditioning.

The interior design at this restaurant was confusing to me. Several elements fit nicely with the space and complimented the atmosphere and food, however others seemed to stand out in an ostentatious way. I loved the wall with stones and windows allowing diners to catch a glimpse into the kitchen. I also liked the chandeliers made of clear glass globes. However, I did not like the pillars filled with gold leaves or the etched glass door.

But, enough about the design, there are more important topics to discuss - food and wine. After pouring over the menu for what I am sure the waiter thought was an eternity, we selected two appetizers and two pastas to share. We also each selected a different type of wine to try by the glass.

Before our food began arriving we were served our wine and bread. Both of our wines were lovely - a Primitivo and an Oregon Pinot Noir. And the bread was fantastic! Difficult to exactly explain, but we were each served a small round roll. But, even to call it a roll is misleading, it was light and fluffy like a croissant with flavors of sea salt and olive oil.

As we were enjoying our fantastic fluffy rolls the waiter delivered our appetizers. We had decided to share a chilled asparagus soup with lobster and an arugula salad with pecorino cheese and lemon dressing. Both were great! The soup was creaming and cooling without being heavy - perfect for a muggy day in the district. The salad was also were good.

Next we were served my favorite course, the pasta. Again we shared two dishes, a papperdeli with mushrooms and lobster ravioli. I tried the papperdeli first and instantly decided that would be my favorite, that was until I tried the ravioli... The papperdeli was made out of chickpea flour and was served with trumpet and morrel mushroom with an earthy mushroom sauce. The ravioli was delicate and had a delicious ginger sauce.

Of course the end to a perfect meal is always sweets. To continue the trend my aunt and I shared two desserts - bomboloni with lemon cream and gianduja cake. Bomboloni are an Italian fried pastry. These particular ones were made with ricotta and were fluffy and perfectly delicious. The gianduja cake had the same rich chocolate and nut flavor of gianduja chocolates and was creamy and light in texture. In addition to these desserts, the waiter also brought each a complimentary plate of three little cookies. There was a shortbread cooking, a chocolate cookie with cream, and the tiniest French macaroon. These were all good, however, bomboloni won my heart!

All the food we had at Fiola was sophisticated, delicious and beautifully presented. (And definitely food worth walking through 100º F heat for...) But, like many of the Italian restaurants in downtown Washington, the prices at Fiola necessitate dining here only for treats or special occasions. (That is, unless you have an expense account.)


Anonymous said...

Off to lunch I go - your food descriptions left me wanting!

Is this a new restaurant in the Quarter?


Jessica said...

Yes, it is a new restaurant - just opened within the last month or two. - Jess