Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ask the Barman

Q: What makes DC such a good drinking town?Mark from Cleveland Park

A: There are so many factors that go in to that. First, the people sitting across the bar are more responsible that anything. As with their willingness to try new food, more and more people are experimenting with new liquors, flavors, and simply trusting the bartenders to come up with something based upon a flavor profile they’ve offered up; dealer’s choice if you will. 

People are moving away from walking in and ordering a scotch on the rocks or vodka martini while ignoring the bar/restaurant’s cocktail list. While there’s nothing wrong with having your favorite drink (I have plenty of those), it’s always nice to try a new drink.

Also, I believe we’re extremely lucky to have a lot of dedicated and talented people behind the bars in the city. No longer are people bartending to just put themselves through school or to make money in between “real” jobs. Now, there are passionate people who live and breathe the bartending craft. There’s been a noticeable shift towards a chef-like mentality behind bars not only with culinary twists on drinks but also in preparation.  Part of that is due to some of the top bartenders in the city have moved out from the kitchen to tend bar. Others have simply learned by watching their chefs and have integrated the kitchen prep into their bar prep. The line between bar and kitchen isn’t blurred just yet, but it’s not as straight as it used to be.

Drinking in DC has come a long way in the 6 years I've lived here. There weren't any straight cocktail bars when I moved here. Run through the list now. There are so many good ones with more coming. Obviously, I think we make great drinks at Fiola, but I think the competition will only make us better.



Bar Manager Jeff Faile

Friday, July 19, 2013

Recipe Corner: Gimlet

The Gimlet is a fantastic summertime drink. While most have been introduced to this drink with artificially sweetened lime juice, I think it is improved tremendously with fresh lime and simple syrup.

There are plenty of options for a gimlet. It can be done with vodka or gin, up or on the rocks. 

Me? I prefer it with a nice botanical gin and on the rocks on a hot summer day. Make one of these when you’re sweltering away on your porch. You’ll be glad you did.

2 oz Gin
.75 oz fresh lime juice
.75 oz simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice. Shake. Strain into either a martini glass or over fresh ice. Sip. Smile. Repeat as necessary. 

Bar Manager Jeff Faile

What Jeff's Drinking Now: Bourbon, with a Nod to Mr. Elmer T. Lee

With the recent passing of Elmer T. Lee, I’m drinking single barrel bourbon. 

Elmer T. Lee worked in the bourbon business for years until passing away this week at the young age of 93. Lee was responsible for introducing Blanton’s in 1984, which revived a then-dying bourbon business by bringing about the trend of small batch bourbons and single barrels.

Elmer T. Lee, Photo from Buffalo Trace

What are small batch and single barrel bourbons, you ask? It’s simple, really. 

After the spirit is distilled, it is placed in barrels to age. The distiller will often place these barrels in warehouses, barns, etc.  Bourbon labeled “Single Barrel” is just that. It’s bourbon that comes from one single barrel from a warehouse. These bottles will vary from time to time in regards to taste, but generally you’ll get a fairly similar experience when it comes to the bigger producers. Small batch bourbon is a blending of barrels to eliminate the differences in taste all together putting out a consistent delicious product from bottle to bottle. 

Whichever way you decide to go, please raise your glass to Mr. Lee.


Bar Manager Jeff Faile

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer Dining in the Mediterranean Style

Our low calorie, low sodium Maria's Light Menu will keep you in shape for summer in the Mediterranean style, without sacrificing any flavor!

Our menu changes daily, but some of our recent offerings have included:
  • heirloom tomato gazpacho with roasted peaches tossed in a peach vinaigrette, garnished with Upland Cress
  • poached fish of the day, such as Atlantic wolffish, served with protein-rich quinoa and tender cockles
  • our light and brothy vegan bulghur soup studded with summer vegetables and finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Our Sgroppino of fruit sorbetto whipped with Prosecco is a perfect sweet finish to the meal. 

Maria's Light Menu is $28 for three courses and available exclusively at lunch.

Maria Trabocchi

When it Comes to Wine: For Summer, Pour the Pink

Cool off with these refreshing rosé wines offered by the glass, and take a sip of summer! 

Charles & Charles, Syrah/Mourvedre, Columbia Valley, Washington 2012 
"Rooty-tooty fresh and fruity" is how you could describe this blend from Washington state's Columbia Valley, which features aromas of wild strawberries and cherries, along with subtle florals like rose and hibiscus. With a touch of citrus, this lovely wine also has underlying tones of dried herbs and minerality.

Charles & Charles Rose

Mastroberardino, “Lacrimarosa”, Aglianico, Campania 2012
This vibrant and delicious offering comes from one of the premier producers of Southern Italy's Campania region, Mastroberardino. Lacrimarosa gets its hints of spiciness from the Aglianico grape, which makes a great base for this rosato, striking a nice balance between refreshment and depth of flavor.

Wine Director John Toigo

Sweet Simplicity: Summer's Late Bounty

We've experienced a late start to the summer fruit season.  But, ahhh, it's worth the wait! 

Pastry Chef Tom Wellings is now offering poached red peaches and peach-white wine granita to provide a cool finish on these sweltering summer evenings, paired with almond financier and peach gelato.

Pastry Chef Tom Wellings' new peach dessert
 Available starting next week ... be sure to try the grilled watermelon sorbetto, a surprising combination of smoky-sweet refreshment. And don't miss the wild Oregon plum "macedonia" with a semolina cake and sheep's milk yogurt sorbetto, offered on our tasting menu. 

Pastry Chef Tom Wellings

Recipe Corner: Melanzane di Graziella

Eggplant Graziella Style

When my godmother Graziella cooked over charcoal, the whole neighborhood knew that she was making dinner. The grown-ups would stand around with a beer or a glass of wine, making jokes and grilling sausages, lamb chops, and pig’s liver. You could watch the plumes of smoke catch the sunlight and disappear through the trees.

Just before dinner, Graziella would come out of the kitchen with a tray full of chicken or game birds ready for grilling. She would get the ball rolling with some eggplant thrown on the grill. As I write this, I can see myself kicking a soccer ball in the street with my playmates as Graziella took over the grill.

This version of her eggplant dish is substantial enough to serve as a vegetarian main course.

We used to have a trick for regulating the heat in a charcoal fire. Often everyone is eager to eat before the fire has burned down enough. If you keep some ashes from previous fires in a can, you can simply sprinkle them over the hot coals and—presto!—your fire cools down. If you need more heat, shake the grate to loosen the ashes and the coals will heat right up again.


6 large Italian (globe) eggplants
Kosher salt
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped dill
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
Grated zest of ½ orange
Grated zest of ½ lemon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing eggplant
Freshly ground black pepper

Slice each eggplant lengthwise in half. Using a paring knife, score the flesh about ¼ inch deep in a ½-inch crisscross pattern. Sprinkle lightly with salt and place cut side down in a colander set over a bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand at room temperature for at least 6 hours to drain.

Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium.

Rinse the salt from the eggplant and pat dry. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, dill, oregano, and orange and lemon zests. Whisk in the olive oil.

Season the dressing with salt and pepper and transfer to a small serving bowl or sauceboat.

Brush the surface of each eggplant with olive oil. Place cut side down on the grill and grill over medium heat, turning once, for about 6 minutes on each side, or until the cut surface is golden brown and the skin is wrinkled.

Arrange the eggplant on a serving platter and serve warm, each topped with a spoonful of dressing.

Fiola Wins Wine Spectator Award ... and more! Cin Cin!

We are pround to announce that Fiola has earned Wine Spectator's Best Award of Excellence for our 575 bottle wine list, featuring the best producers in Italy, France, Spain and the United States. 

Wine Enthusiast also recently named Fiola one of America's 100 Best Wine Restaurants in its August 2013 issue. Other top restaurants on the list include The French Laundry, in Yountville, Calif., Daniel and Eleven Madison Park in New York City, and Michael Mina in San Francisco.

Fiola Wine Director John Toigo was also featured in's Ask a Sommelier series, in which he described the greatest wine he's ever tried. Ask him about it in person on your next visit to Fiola ...

Fiola Wine Director John Toigo

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Casa Luca Now Open!

Now Open!

We can't wait to welcome you to our new restaurant, Casa Luca, located at 1099 New York Avenue NW (entrance on 11th Street). 

Our menu features antipasti, house-made pastas,traditional Marche flatbreads like "crescia" and "chichi", grilled meats and fish, and classic Italian desserts. We're excited about our list of wines on tap and affordable bottle selections, as well as our Italian inspired craft cocktails.

We are taking reservations at 202-628-1099 or via OpenTable.

We have a table waiting for you at Fiola and Casa Luca!