Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, Penn Quarter, The Features

Capital Chefs: Fabio Trabocchi of Fiola (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Tuscan Tomato Soup & Buffalo Mozzarella Toast at Fiola
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie

Put down the Kraft singles. Step away from the cheese whiz or whatever else you’re holding in your hand. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is about to be taken to a whole new level. Fiola style. And in this frigid weather as of late, this hearty soup and sandwich will keep you warm and your belly full.

For Fabio Trabocchi, the chef and mastermind behind Fiola, he says “there’s a lot to learn from what a kid likes,” and occasionally uses it as inspiration in the kitchen. In this dish, Trabocchi takes a childhood classic and makes a grownup version that I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

Click through for the full recipe and here for more pictures.

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Capital Chefs, Food and Drink, Penn Quarter, The Features

Capital Chefs: Fabio Trabocchi of Fiola (Part 1)

Photo courtesy of bonappetitfoodie
Chef Fabio Trabocchi of Fiola
courtesy of bonappetitfoodie

Ask Fabio Trabocchi what the biggest challenge for him is and you’ll get an interesting answer. “There are no challenges,” he says, and promptly laughs as if to correct himself. Normally, I’d be surprised by such an answer, but when you think about what the chef of Fiola has achieved–a James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic in 2006, Chef of the Year from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington in 2005, Food & Wine’s Best New Chef in 2002, oh and not to mention working at a 3 star Michelin restaurant by 16 years old–you might think this super-chef has indeed transcended any challenges. Trabocchi clarifies: “It depends on how you look at a challenge. That’s what makes it fun. It’s challenging to run out of challenges. Every challenge is very exciting.”

The chef explained that while some other people might look at work in terms of hours, he chooses not to and frankly, says he doesn’t have time to. “I do this because I really like it,” he says. “I’m involved in the food, the financial side–in every part of the restaurant. I like all the aspects of [the restaurant industry].” As he moves around the kitchen and talks to me in our interview, it’s clear that Trabocchi operates with a certain degree of intensity and razor-sharp focus. Every move is done with purpose. He explains how his work as a chef differs from most: “Other professions can go back and fix their work. A cook puts food on the plate and gets that one chance.”

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Food

Winter Restaurant Week 2012

Photo courtesy of Daquella manera
Cena courtesy of Daquella manera

So you are one week into your New Years resolutions of getting fit, eating healthy and exercising more… Good for you! Now get over it, because starting January 9th restaurants across the District will be offering killer deals for Winter Restaurant Week. From January 9-15, select restaurants across the city will offer a three-course lunch for $20.12  and three-course dinners for $35.12. Best part is, no mass daily-deal purchase necessary, all you need is a reservation. Now, who doesn’t love a delicious bargain?

Restaurant Week is a week to go big rather than stay home, as some of the pricier dining options in DC become immediately accessible. It is a chance for you to cross out some of those places you’ve had on your list for a while, instead of waiting for the next birthday/anniversary/you-name-it special occasion, you’re excused to dine with the big boys and save a pretty penny too. While some haters (I was indeed one of them) worry that the lower price point comes at the expense of quality, the restaurants below are quality-driven and promise a memorable dining experience regardless of the end bill. And let’s remember, it is their reputation on the line after all and consistency is key. So stop drinking the hate-orade and embrace the feast week.

Here are some suggestions:

Art and Soul– Art Smith will offer an extensive menu that includes some of his signature dishes, as well as a specially priced wine list for the week. Now that’s being a Southern Gentleman.  Menu highlights include shrimp and grits, charcuterie of the day, Yorkshire pig and cabbage, pan fried flounder, and sweet offerings like chocolate bread pudding and apple tart. Update: Art and Soul will be extending their restaurant week menu through January 22nd.

701 – Chef Ed Witt has developed an extensive and exciting menu, mouth-watering options include lemongrass lobster bisque, bourbon caramel apple salad with mustard greens, veal sweetbreads, red wine beef short-ribs, cider braised rabbit leg and desserts including an upscale s’more- chocolate bar with vanilla bean gelato, marshmallow and graham crackers. Need I say more?

Rasika– Reservations at Chef Vikram Sunderam’s Indian mecca are near impossible to snag, so book now if you want to dine here during Restaurant Week. The Penn Quarter powerhouse is consistently delicious and will undoubtedly be offering some of its best dishes.

Photo courtesy of angela n.
Art & Soul courtesy of angela n.

Fiola– Everything here from the classic antipastis to the homemade pastas and innovative fish and meat offerings is spot on delicious. As Fiola’s first Winter Restaurant Week, chef Fabio Trabocchi is sure to deliver. I also recommend you spend the money you would have on the meal and try many a drinks by Fiola’s resident mixologist, Jeff Faile. These men know what they are doing. Continue reading

The Features

First Look: Fiola

fiola 001
The weekends in DC can be an interesting phenomenon. Once the work crowd leaves on Friday afternoon, downtown can seem tired and desolate without the weekday foodie crowd. I almost thought I saw that at Fiola on Saturday, then I realized I was there at an off hour. Once it was closer to dinner, couples and parties kept coming in.

The restaurant is the a brain child of Fabio Trabocchi, who a few years ago worked the kitchen at Maestro in the Ritz Carlton Tyson.

They’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Welcome back to DC, Fabio.

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Food and Drink, People, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Jeff Faile

Jeff Garnishes
All photos by the author

We Love Drinks continues our series where we look behind the bar, profiling the many people – from mixologists to bartenders, sommeliers to publicans – who make your drinks experience happen.

“You could just write a short little paragraph: ‘Jeff hates vodka.’ That would sum it up perfectly.”

On a recent afternoon I sat down with Jeff Faile, until next Thursday the bar manager at Palena, and soon to be the bar manager (part of an excellent team) at Fabio Trabocchi’s return to DC, Fiola.

An army brat born in Rhode Island, he has a history degree from Clemson. Previously a manager at Tower Records in Philadelphia who moonlighted as a bartender, he moved to DC about five years ago and began bartending full-time. In November he got married, became bar manager at Palena, and was invited to join the DC Craft Bartenders Guild. And he owes at least part of his success to Twitter, of all things.

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Food and Drink

All Your 2011 Restaurant Openings To Look Forward To (Part 2)

Photo courtesy of
‘Funny fro-zen-yo Signage’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

Yesterday we previewed half of the upcoming restaurants of 2011. Here’s the second half.

District Commons and Burger, Tap & Shake

Don’t you just love the whole restaurant within a restaurant idea? Well, whether you do or not, Passion Food Hospitality (Acadiana and DC Coast) will soon open their sixth and I guess also 7th location. Chef Jeff Tunks along with David Wizenberg and Gus DiMillo will serve up American cuisine at District Commons, plus burgers, double fried fries and adult milkshakes at the counter-service BT & S. Both Foggy Bottom restaurants will share a beer menu featuring 20 American small batch beers.

2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Expected Arrival: Spring 2011 Continue reading