Fabio Trabocchi’s homage to Italy founded on authentic Italian traditions, creatively evolved for the modern age. Named #5 best Italian restaurant in the world by "50 Top Italy"

Fiola made our itinerary after learning about it, seeing some of the food and learning of its bevy of awards, including being named #2 Italian restaurant in the world by Top 50 Italy. My expectations were sky high, though I did wonder why a place like this only had a single star.

I soon found out.

20230620_195659.jpgWalking into Fiola is impressive. The space is absolutely gorgeous. Upscale, warm and inviting. The stone was such an incredible touch on the interior, adding both elegance and a sense of Italy. 

We arrived early and were ushered to the bar, even though the restaurant had only a few active tables. Perhaps it was the need to prep the handwritten note that aways you at the table (nice touch!), but it felt bit like a push to buy alcohol. The gentleman next to me had a dish arrive, and it didn't look that great. As he finished, I asked what he thought of it. He shrugged his shoulders. "It was fine." 

Fine?? Uh oh.

Once we sat, our server was pleasant and friendly, but awkwardly so. Like a guy that laughs at his own jokes without recognizing that you're not there with him. He committed the unpardonable sin of striking up a conversation with us as we started our dishes. And couldn't be found at the end of the night. We had to flag down a hostess for our bill after 20 minutes of waiting for him to return. (He was in the back room with the other staff, clearly ending their evening a bit early.)

The biggest oddity was when I ordered Vongole (clams) - a dish that had been removed from the website but I found on the printed menu. He came back from the kitchen 5 minutes later. "I'm sorry to say that the chef doesn't think he has enough clams for your Vongole." I playfully expressed my disappointment. As we discussed other dishes, he said "We can do a cacio e pepe for you." Another favorite dish. "Sold!"

5 minutes later, he came back. "The chef now does think he can do a Vongole for you."

What is going on here?? If something is out, the server should know before taking orders. Did the chef suddenly find a few extra clams? Am I getting the clams from the bottom of the barrel? A very uneven and offputting experience, to say the least.

The good news is that they brought us the cacio e pepe also. Once set down, the server said "These are your...um...wait." (Looking towards the kitchen...) "I think your other dishes are on the way..." I silently thought "They're not bringing us 2 pasta dishes at the same time, right?" He started to introduce what was in front of us as vongole. I said "Sir, this is clearly cacio e pepe." Fortunately, the vongole was coursed out next. How does he not recognize the difference between these two pastas? How does he not know what we were served??

And how is their pasta not house made?? The server awkwardly explained it was "fine pasta imported from Italy". He fumbled trying to think of which region. I can get that at a grocer. I'm at one of the finest Italian restaurants in the world, and their pasta is not made in house? That's not why I'm here.

I wish I could tell you that the food made up for this amateurishness. It did not.

The appetizers and pastas were so incredibly salty, one building on another, that we began trying to eat around the salt (e.g. take less sauce...maybe it's better that way...). We began chuckling about it, it became so expected. 

The meal was almost saved by the lamb. The best product I have ever had by far and cooked to insane perfection. Best lamb dish of my life. Well, except for that it was (get this...) completely under-seasoned. I actually didn't taste any at all. (We got a hearty laugh out of the irony there.) The strawberries and cream dessert was also exceptional. I wish I was able to capture a better photo of it.

My tea at the end of the night was brought over in a large teapot, my cup was filled and the teapot was returned to the kitchen. I asked Teresa "Do they keep that for later?" When the hostess finally tracked down our server for the final bill, he sheepishly hurried over, handed us the bill and asked "Would you like more tea?" Seriously?

What a disappointment this place was. Most of these issues are "surface" issues - easily resolved with a little focus and attention. The evening ended with a couple of drunk businessmen offering us their bundt cakes - their to-go gift from Fiola's tasting menu. Apt.

We politely declined. 

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