Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chef Trabocchi's Culinary Adventures

This past Wednesday, chatted with renowned Chef Fabio Trabocchi who has recently moved back to the DC region to begin two new exciting food ventures, a restaurant affectionately named Fiola (sweetheart), and Garden Cafe Italia at the National Gallery of Art.

He and his wife Maria are back in DC after spending 7 years in New York. They moved back to DC, a town that they love, and one that loves them back. In fact, Fiola, located at 601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, is the exact place where the couple met! Formerly, it was the restaurant Brice, where Trabocchi was a chef and his wife worked in the office. Fiola seems to be the perfect name for the new restaurant!

Chef Trabocchi described Fiola as an upscale Trattoria where he will return to some of the classic dishes from Maestro, but he will also include some dishes from his region that have been featured in his cookbook Cucina of Le Marche. Expect to visit often for Fiola will have a new menu every day that is based on the freshest ingredients available.

Any avid diner knows that ambiance is a vital part of the dining experience. At Fiola, you will be able to relax in its casual, comfortable interior, and in the warmer weather, enjoy a drink or even some homemade gelato outside. Expect to find a lighter menu at the bar, where you visit before and after dinner.

Chef Trabocchi reflected on his native home in Le Marche, a less famous, but very beautiful region in the northern part of Italy, along the Adriatic coast. In regards to their cuisine, he observed, "We have, of course, lots of fresh pastas with sauces, we are big on vegetables and anything organic, good wines, cheese. . . Being by the Adriatic we do offer a great variety of fresh fish as well."

One piatti tipici that you may find at Fiola is one of Chef Trabocchi's own favorites, Vincisgrassi, or the Le Marche version of lasagna. It consists of 13 layers of very thin pasta, meat and tomatoes, "It is a recipe from the 18th century still alive and very present in our homes."

While plans for Fiola's grand opening are tentatively slated for sometime in mid- April, they are currently taking reservations. Visit or the chef's blog at In the meantime, Cafe Garden Italia is also keeping Trabocchi busy.

Earlier this month, the Washington Examiner remarked that Chef Trabocchi is conquering both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue. That is because you can find his other culinary quest not far away at the National Gallery of Art at the Garden Cafe Italia. The Cafe's opening coincided with the opening of the exhibition Canaletto and his Rivals.

In the spirit of the exhibit, you can expect to find food at Garden Cafe Italia that the Venetians might have had during the time of Canaletto, for example: Venetian style seafood and fish soup, prosciutto, olives, bread, gelato, tiramisu, eggplant, Parmesano Reggiano (the entire wheel!), etc. Italian beverages prosecco, beer, and Illy Cafe will compliment the dishes. The menu will change seasonally, and is available through March 2012. While Trabocchi plays a big role in the Cafe, he also gives a lot of credit to Chef David Rogers and Carlos Souza, Director of Food and Beverage, for their daily contributions to cafe. For more information, visit

Monday, February 21, 2011

Coming this Spring ~ La Dolce DC!

At this time of year, many Americans start thinking of trips to Europe. More specifically, most of us here at begin dreaming of the sights and sounds of Italy. However, that is still not a possibility for many of us due to tight economic constraints. This Spring you are in luck. The DC metro region is in for a real surprise as Destination DC, the National Italian American Foundation, and the Embassy of Italy uncover the secrets of Italian culture here in the nation's capital!

From March 1 - July 31, 2011, Washington, DC will pay homage to the myriad of contributions from Italians, ranging from classic to contemporary culture. The showcase of architecture, art, dance, design, fashion, music, theatre, film, and cuisine is aptly named, La Dolce DC. This magnificent jubilation does more than mark the 50th anniversary of the Fellini film,La Dolce DC, its real significance is the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.

Elliott Ferguson, president & CEO of Destination DC, the official convention and tourism corporation for the nation’s capital explained “Travelers come to DC looking for unique and exclusive cultural experiences, and we are serving these up with an Italian accent this spring and summer. . . This promotion is also an opportunity for us to highlight the Italian influences you can always find in DC, from the city’s neoclassical architecture to its hot new Italian restaurants.”

La Dolce DC festivities will include exclusive DC engagements of Italian art at The Phillips Collection and the National Gallery of Art, the latter of which will exhibit the promotion's headliner Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals.

Highlights of the five-month festival include:

  • Philip Guston, Roma: The Phillips Collection is the exclusive U.S. venue for this exhibition of nearly 40 paintings by the former artist-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome (Feb. 12-May 15).
  • Washington National Opera’s “Madama Butterfly” (Feb. 26-March 19) and “Don Pasquale” (May 13-27), two of the final productions to be mounted by the company under General Director Plácido Domingo.
  • Italian Fashion, Trade & Design Shows: The Embassy of Italy will host a trade and design show at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center highlighting collections from emerging Italian designers (April 2-4) as well as a special fashion show featuring the latest designs by Fendi (April 10).
  • La Dolce DC Gospel: African-American gospel choirs will sing Italian music in Roman Catholic tradition (April 17).
  • Murano Glass Shows: Stunning sculptural and commercial works by Lunardon, a prominent glass sculptor, will be on display at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
  • The Etruscans: An Ancient Culture Revealed: The National Geographic Museum explores the fascinating culture that dominated the Italianpeninsula centuries before the rise of the Roman Republic (June 10-Sept. 25).
  • “The Merchant of Venice”: The Shakespeare Theatre Company stages the classic tale of intrigue, power and revenge, set against the backdrop of Venice (June 24-July 11).

The promotion also invites visitors to explore DC landmarks and locations with Italian and Italian-American influences, including:

  • The U.S. Capitol, with its breathtaking frescoes painted by Constantino Brumidi;
  • “Little Rome,” the Northeast DC neighborhood named for its collection of more than 60 Roman Catholic sites such as the Franciscan Monastery and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception;
  • The Watergate complex, designed by architect Luigi Moretti;
  • Works of art found in the permanent collections of DC museums and galleries, such as “Ginevra di Benci,” the only Leonardo da Vinci portrait in the Americas, on display at the National Gallery of Art, and works by pioneering women artists Elisabetta Sirani and Lavinia Fontana at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
  • The Lincoln Memorial and the National Archives, with sculptural elements by Italian-American stone carvers, the Picirilli Brothers.

The Dolce DC would not be complete without a display of Italy's rich culinary history, including:

  • Garden Café Italia at the National Gallery of Art, an on-site eatery that has been transformed to serve a menu of classic and contemporary Italian fare developed by notable chef Fabio Trabocchi, who will open his own downtown DC restaurant, Fiola, in the Spring.
  • Bibiana, dubbed one of the “Best New Restaurants of 2010” by John Mariani in Esquire
  • Graffiato, the latest venture for “Top Chef All-Stars” contestant Mike Isabella, opening in Spring, will complement the cultural happenings with Italian flavors on the table.

Some of DC's best hotels are joining the promotion to offer Italy-themed packages.

  • At the Fairmont Washington, D.C. Hotel, visitors can book the “Roman Holiday” package, which includes overnight accommodations, a three-course Italian dinner for two, two tickets to The Phillips Collection and a DVD of the Audrey Hepburn classic. The package starts at $309 and is available March 1 through May 30.

For the latest information about all things Italian in DC, Destination DC has launched a dedicated website, Check back often with and www.ciaodc.blogspot for more details and reviews of all La Dolce DC's exquisite offerings.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Views of Venice by Caneletto and His Rivals on display at the National Gallery

From Sunday, February 20 until May 30, 2011, the National Gallery of art will exhibit Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals, in the Gallery's East Building.

Giovanni Antonio Canal was born in the Republic of Venice in 1697 and earned the sobriquet Caneletto after his father Bernard Canal, also a painter, for whom he served as an apprentice. Canaletto was inspired by the daily life of Venice and its Venetians. He became famous for his scenic paintings known as vedute. The exhibit at the National Gallery showcases more than 20 masterpieces by Caneletto as well as over 30 created by rivals Guardi, Belloto, and Marieschi. These Venetian artists were influenced by the rich nautical panorama, and the art market that was created in-part by the upper-class men completing their education while on a Grand Tour of Europe..

The exhibition has been organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the National Gallery, London and is made possible by the Bracco Foundation, Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation and the Sally Engelhard Pingree and The Charles Engelhard Foundation. It is also supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The Canaletto exhibition in part of a larger Spring celebration of Italian culture in Washington, DC, La Dolce DC, which we will share more information about in future blog posts from all of here at In addition to this landmark exhibition and other Italian masterpieces on display in the permanent collection, the National Gallery is featuring other events to celebrate the influence of Italian culture in DC and the world over, including lectures, film programs, concerts, Gallery Talks, and Garden Café Italia.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cineforum Italiano: Draquila - L'Italia che trema

Italophiles and political junkies will be enthralled by bold satirist Sabina Guzzanti's new documentary which examines the aftermath of an April 2009 earthquake that devastated the historic city of L'Aquila, the capital of Italy's wildly beautiful region of Abruzzo.

The earthquake killed more than 300 people, destroyed artworks of global importance and left the majority of the city's residents homeless. In this impassioned documentary, Guzzanti alleges that the disaster was used by the government for political gain, approaching her theme in a systematic way, cleverly and humerously building her case and making good use of her background as a satirist and comedian to keep the audience engaged.

DRAQUILA was officially selected to screen at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival as a Special Screening and Sandro Bondi, Italy's Culture Minister, boycotted Cannes on the grounds that Draquila was a "propaganda" film which insulted Italians and damaged Italy's image abroad. The film received a sustained standing ovation from the audience at Cannes. The film also did very well with Italian audiences last year in Italy.

The Washington, DC Italian Language Meetup Group will screen the film on Sunday, March 13th at 4:00pm at the Letelier Theater in Georgetown. Tickets purchased in advance are $8.00 with an RSVP here: Tickets can also be purchased at the door for $10.00 (cash only).

Meet and Greet Networking and Member Recruitment with the National Organization of Italian American Women

Earlier in the month, announced this event via our monthly calendar. The DC Region NOIAW event is next Thursday, February 24, 2011 from 6:30-8:30pm at the NIAF building located at 1860 19TH ST NW, Washington, DC.

I am on the DC Region Council of NOIAW and wanted to provide some more details and a subtle reminder for our Meet and Greet. NOIAW is a national organization founded in 1980 in New York City to create a national network to support the educational and professional aspirations of its members. Over 30 years later, we are still the only national membership organization for American women of Italian ancestry. We provide mentoring, scholarships, a cultural exchange program, as well as networking opportunities throughout the year. The Greater Washington, DC chapter of NOIAW launched in the winter of 2008 to bring these advantages closer to the members residing in the DC area.

NOIAW DC invites you to take this opportunity to network with other professionals interested in learning more about their heritage and to discover the benefits of belonging to our organization. Come to our Meet and Greet Reception for an evening of new friends and fun. Light refreshments will be served.

Of course, all are welcome to join us at the event, it is open to people of all backgrounds, including men. We ask that if you are interested in attending that you please
RSVP by February 21, 2011

For more information on NOIAW, visit our website
Like NOIAW DC on

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Festa di Carnevale - DC Style

There are several stories about the origins of the Venetian Carnevale, but many agree that it is a celebration in which Christians gorged themselves on indulgent foods in order to rid their cupboards of fare containing sugar and animal fats. This was done in preparation for the Christian Lenten Season when there was, and continues to be, different fasting practices as a sacrifice to God. Of course, we are able to recognize these traditions in other similar celebrations across the globe, including the very famous Mardi Gras and Brazilian Carnaval.

Like many other Christian celebrations, the festival is also thought to have pre-Christian roots. Customs from the ancient Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Baccanalia may have been incorporated. As any other celebration that has been passed down through the ages and traveled across continents, you will likely evidence new transformations of these practices as people adapt them to their modern lives.

This Saturday, join several of the DC area's most prominent Italian language and culture groups to celebrate Festa Di Carnevale, DC style. Come see how this centuries old observance is being reshaped in one of the most international parts of the United States.

Festa di Carnevale is a costume party that will feature prizes for the best dressed! Entrance to the affair is a suggested donation of 15 dollars which includes light refreshments and a drink ticket. Also, enter for a chance to win two tickets to Puccini's Madama Butterfly at the Washington National Opera!

The masquerade will be held at the Friendship Heights Community Center, this Saturday, February 19th from 7PM - 11:30 PM. See the inset flyer for all the details.

We encourage CiaoDC viewers who attend the event to come back and comment on the blog post to let us know your thoughts. Also, as I am not an expert in Medieval history, feel free to share with me and other CiaoDC readers any information that you would like to add about the origins of the Venetian Carnevale. Grazie.

Link to some of the sponsoring organizations below for more information.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day Restaurant Specials

On Thursday, we gave you a bunch of ideas for Valentine's Day. Here is an update on more DC area restaurants that are featuring special menus for the special day.

A La Lucia - 3 Course dinner for 31.95
Assaggi Mozzarella Bar - Special a la carte menu
Assaggi Osteria - Special A la Carte menu
Bibiana - 4 Course Pre Fix Meal for $85.00
La Tomate - Pre Fixe Meal for $42.00
Ristorante Piccolo - 4 Course Pre Fixe Meal for $60.oo
Teatro Goldini - 3 course Pre Fixe Meal for $55.00

There are also some great Italian Restaurants in the Baltimore are offering specials.

Aida Bistro - 4 course Pre Fixe meal for $59.00
Cafe Troia Restaurant - Special A la carte menu, including heart-shaped seafood ravioli
Luna Blu Restaurant - 4 course Pre Fixe meal for $50.00
One Milan - 5 course Pre Fixe Meal for $75.00

If you are looking for some place that is more low-key to enjoy a dinner with friends, or a not too serious date, stop by Piola, which will feature complimentary strawberries dipped in chocolate and half-price bottles of wine, as they do every Monday.

For those of you who want to avoid any awkward Valentine's Day debacle, check out some of these great events with a date later in the week.

Thursday, February 17th - Italian Inspiration: An Evening with Chef Mike Isabella at Boffi Georgetown, presented by the American Institute of Food and Wine

Also on Thursday, February 17th, Assaggi Osteria will feature An Essential Wine and Food Experience for a Fun Filled Evening Exploring the Art of Food and Wine Pairing.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

CiaoDC's 2011 Local Lovers Guide

Get ready for Valentine's Day with CiaoDC's Lover's Guide (local suggestions for amore xoxo). Check out dining options, Italian films, staycation ideas and more here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Love, Masquerades, and Gondolas. Oh My!

CiaoDC's Italian cupid is on the loose to the best events in town: Catch a Taste of Cafe Italia mid month at the National Gallery of Art prepared by Chef Fabio Trabocchi. He's returning to the Nation's Capital to open Penn Quarter's highly anticipated restaurant Fiola - buon appetito! CiaoDC will be getting a taste of Trabocchi's Cafe Italia on Feb 20 with a live chat possibly scheduled this month.

Foolery and fantasy as always with Faction of Fools and their many celebrations of Commedia Dell'arte Day on February 25. CiaoDC will go behind the scenes live at one of their rehearsals and we're taking you with us! In the mood for some masked fun in the meantime? Check out our conversation with the fools here and get discounted tickets to their Gala Carnevale. As a subscriber, you get a 33% discount - now, that's amore!

Gondola rides and everything depicting Venice will launch on Feb 20 at the National Gallery of Art with the month long exhibit of Canaletto and His Rivals. CiaoDC will have a sneak peak for all on Feb 17th - stay tuned!

Plus, we're feeling love, love, love from our sweetheart tenor, Elio Scaccio in a CiaoDC interview about his valentine, the love letters behind his latest cd-release, Lettere D'Amore and where to eat in Little Italy xoxo. For your listening pleasure soon.
Need ideas for Valentine's Day Weekend - CiaoDC has just the perfect Italian love guide here! You can fantasize being in Italy in the meantime here.

Looking ahead for National Women's Month in March, we're chatting with Former Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush, Anita McBride on Friday, February 11 at 9:30 a.m. on facebook.