Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

May 16, 2014 11:55 AM

Restaurant: Fiola Mare

Fiola Mare

3050 K St. NW
31st Street & Waterfront
Washington, DC
First there was Fiola (WW October 2013), then Casa Luca (WW September 2013), and now Fiola Mare. All are the creation of Fabio Trabocchi, the Chef/ Owner, with Maria Trabocchi, the Director of Guest Relations.

Fiola Mare is located on the edge of the Potomac River. It is part of Washington Harbor, but the entrance to the restaurant is on 31st street.

As you enter the restaurant there is a guest greeter and a number of people who seat people. Immediately to the left is an L-shaped full bar with high stools. You can eat at the bar, but I am told by someone with experience that there is a shortened bar menu.

There is a second full bar at the far end of the restaurant, which I assume will be used for large private parties at that end of the restaurant.

In the center of the restaurant, on the wall away from the water, is an open kitchen. Then there are two very long, curved-at-the-end banquettes with which you can create 2s or 4s, etc. In the center of the restaurant and through to the far end are a series of tables and chairs, 2s, 4s, 6s depending on the need. When a 4 top is converted to a 6 top it gets a little too close to the 4 top next to it.

On the water side of the restaurant there are a series of tables and benches that look like picnic tables. To avoid the discomfort of benches there are thick, bright blue pads on the seats and back. There are 4s and 2s that can be turned into 6s. This wall of the restaurant is floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors that can be opened in good weather.

The restaurant has been constructed so as to be readily subdivided, and at the end furthest from the front entrance, there is a room that has a single long table that looks to seat a dozen people.

Debbie and I first had dinner there with Rita and Bob. A few days later we had lunch there with Marybeth and Steve.

Rita and I started with a salad, Colors of the Garden, with lettuce, strawberries, purple asparagus, green almonds, tangerine, blood orange, basil.

Debbie and Bob began with Jumbo Lump Crab Salad, slow roasted San Marzano tomatoes, yuzu, spring sorrel cream.

For entrees,

- Rita selected Adriatic Seafood Brodetto, black bass, snapper, mullet, calamari, clams, prawns, mussels, halibut, scallops;

- Debbie enjoyed Under The Sea, red king prawns, lobster, octopus, halibut, maitakes, foie gras, quinoa, Parmesan dashi;

- Bob tried the Sardinian Ricotta cavetelli, San Marzano tomatoes, basil, pecorino gran cru;

- I had the Black Bass, lemon, black olive salt, salsa verde, fennel aioli. I also had a half order of Spaghetti and tomato sauce (which was not on the menu, but delivered without a whimper).

For dessert we shared Ricotta Bomboloni, burnt honey gelato. The restaurant also delivered a small birthday cake. (It was my birthday.)

At lunch a few days later, Mary Beth and I started with the Colors of the Garden salad. Debbie and Steve chose Burrata of Buffalo Mozzarella, baby artichokes, squash blossoms, radish, pesto of basil Genovese.

For the entrée Debbie and Steve selected Fiola Mare “Lobster roll,” Maine lobster, spicy Calabrese mayo, pickled cucumbers, basil, potato bun. Mary Beth and I opted for one of the lunch specials, a Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. (The menu offers the option of one or two crab cakes, but one was sufficient.)

We decided to share two desserts: Baba al Maraschino, vanilla crème, Amarena cherry, toasted Marcona almonds; and Ricotta Bomboloni. In addition, the restaurant delivered a third treat, “Marchesi” amedei chocolate terrine, mint, Sicilian pistachio.

The restrooms are to the left as you enter the restaurant. The door is cream colored with a dark glass window covering half of it with the word “Gentleman” written across the glass. The floor is covered with large white, with design, tiles in square and rectangular shapes. The walls are covered to about waist height with relatively small white rectangular tiles. The rest of the walls to the ceiling are painted off white.

Immediately to the left as you enter there is a large wooden shelf with two sunken white ceramic wash basins. There is a mirror above each. Next, there are two wall hanging urinals with a marble-like wall between them that goes from the floor to top of head height. The urinals are of the new Touch-Free, Hygienic, Water-free variety.

There is a commode room with full door and a single white ceramic commode.

We left dinner with questions about the service. Our server was not particularly attentive. She was busy with a number of other tables, but it struck me that she was not fully trained. (Debbie thought she was more attentive to the table of six next to us.)

On our second visit, conceding that the restaurant was not particularly busy, our serving person was as good as any that I can remember anywhere and better than most.

Fiola Mare is open for dinner seven nights a week, lunch Tuesday-Friday, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

There is valet parking separate from the valet parking available at the main entrance of Washington Harbor.

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