It was a rainy spring Sunday in Washington, and I was up rather early, to shop, of course. I was making the most of a Madewell charity sale, and Cori Sue begrudgingly met me there in the late morning to accept or reject my fashion selections. (She is my stylist, after all.)
To reward ourselves for good deeds coupled with great shopping, we waddled down Wisconsin Avenue, huddled under our umbrellas, to the waterfront, seeking out Georgetown’s newest brunch spot.
Fiola Mare is slightly hidden from the beaten path, but it’s still making quite the buzz with food-lovers in the area. It is, after all, the third restaurant from Fabio and Maria Trabocchi, the beautiful and talented Italian couple who took Washington’s culinary scene by storm with Fiola and Casa Luca.
The polite host inside quickly helped us with our raincoats and umbrellas, allowing us to breathe a sigh of relief from our wet commute. We took in the setting: brunch at Fiola Mare is like dining inside of a Henri Bendel box. There are brown striped banquets and delicate glass light fixtures. It’s a classically glamorous and utterly stunning space.
We were escorted to a table in the bright, nautical back room, which had its own bar and looked over the water. Our waiter must have noticed that we were slightly uncomfortable being a bit bedraggled from the rain in such a classy establishment, so he slid up to our table with a big grin, immediately offering drinks and pastries.
With his jovial demeanor, he coaxed us along the brunch menu, explaining everything in detail. The prix fixe brunch is $28 per person and you have a choice of beverage, a fixed appetizer, a fixed entree, and a choice of desserts. I decided to go for that option, but Cori Sue and I shared the appetizers and dessert. It was the perfect amount of food for two, once she got an additional entree, as well.
We had our coffee, our reading materials—the Sunday New York Times for me and magazines for CS—and we needed carbs to complete our Sunday morning. Priced at a jaw-dropping eighteen dollars, the morning pastry basket is more expensive than anything else on the brunch menu—beyond the Waygu strip steak, even—but my goodness is this basket worth it.
The entire thing is baked in-house that morning. It’s delightful: croissants, sweet brioche, pane carasau, green olive panino, filoncino, and more, served with delicate tiny fresh fruit jams, chocolate hazelnut sauce, local honey, and farm butter alongside. The basket, overflowing with pastries, was beautiful to look at and tasted just as good as it look.We delicately picked apart the basket, sampling each bread one-by-one.
The croissants were some of the best we’ve had—and we’ve had those flakey pastries all across Europe and back. The sweet brioche bun is served piping hot with a cube of sugar baked inside the fluffy dough. As if we couldn’t get enough sugar, we dipped it into the chocolate hazelnut sauce.
At some point in our hazy indulgence, I ordered a Bloody Mary. It was ice cold and perfectly spicy. The drink arrived garnished with olives and a lemon twist. The cocktail menu at Fiola Mare is small but well curated. There’s wines and bubbles by the glass, and mocktails and juices if you’re looking for something healthy.
Then the real meal began when the bruschetta dolce arrived. It was a gorgeous piece of multigrain toast, covered in melted ricotta, asturias chestnut honey, and seckel pear compote. Sprinkled on top were edible flower petals. Almost too pretty to eat.
The Fiola Mare shrimp and grits, which came with the prix fixe that day, was a small dish, but filling. I asked for the maya prawns to be peeled for me, but typically they serve them with their heads on. The grits are made with soft polenta—the Italian take on grits.
Cori Sue opted to order a la carte off the brunch menu, on which there are a few selection. There are brunch favorites, like the uova in camicia—two poached eggs with smoked salmon, their version of a salmon benedict—or the lemon mascarpone pancakes.
There’s even a Fiola Mare lobster roll. I like how Fiola Mare gives off an air of bourgeoisie but underneath that, it’s wholesome, kind, and pretty relatable. We felt that about not only the food and the setting, but our service as well.
Cori Sue ordered the bistecca and uova, which is the Italian for “really good steak and eggs.” It was a Wagyu strip loin with an olive oil poached duck egg on the side. It came dressed up, of course, with a parmigiano crema and thick sticks of the most heavenly Italian Parmesan. But underneath all the flourish was still a solid, delicious steak and eggs dish.
The dolci menu is as big as the brunch menu. I like a restaurant that takes its sweets seriously. There’s Tahitian vanilla cake, yogurt panna cotta, even a daily selection of handmade gelato and sorbet.
We ordered the warm cinnamon bun, which was drizzled with sweet, vanilla icing. It came with house-made vanilla gelato on a bed of cinnamon sugar crumbles. It was probably the best thing we’ve ever eaten.
Outside of the brunch menu, the restaurant offers pasta, antipasti, raw oysters on the half shell, and a selection of market seafood. The market counter is particularly impressive, with whole fish grilled and priced by the pound.
But we couldn’t take any more of it. The prixe fixe plus an additional entree was the perfect amount of brunch for two Bitches, and we felt lovingly pampered and taken care of by our charming, friendly waiter.
The Bitches say: A+ A truly classy gem with phenomenal cuisine and warm service on the Georgetown waterfront.
3050 K St NW
Washington, DC 20007