For a splash-out D.C. dining experience, book a table at Fiola, a favorite among the glitterati, but also locals who simply love inventive Italian cuisine and lively atmosphere. With its wide swath of bar at the front, white banquettes, and modern art, the dining room has a glamorous, head-turning, New York feel about it, maybe informed by chef Fabio Trabocchi’s stint there not so long ago. But it’s got a friendly vibe, too, helped along by Trabocchi’s charming wife, Maria, who is usually on the scene. The main event is the seasonal Italian cuisine, which might include lobster ravioli in cream sauce, goat cheese fritters, lasagna with morels and truffles, or arugula salad with figs. The main menu changes frequently—and the variety of menus is always changing, too. There’s a real sense that Fabio and Maria are having fun as they create the light "Maria’s Lunch" menu, "Presto! Lunch at the Bar," amenu to celebrate spring—you get the idea: celebratory dining. Also consider the Trabocchis’ casual Italian restaurant, Casa Luca, at 1099 New York Ave. NW, in the Penn Quarter, and an Italian seafood eatery, Fiola Mare, in Georgetown’s waterfront complex, Washington Harbour.
- Elise Hartman Ford