My wife and I were quite excited to try out Fiola, as we had heard it was aiming to be DC's next four-star Italian restaurant. We arrived at 7:45 for our 8:00 p.m. dinner reservation and checked in with the hostesses. No table was ready, so we sat at the bar approximately six feet from the hostess station. We proceeded to wait, and wait, and wait some more. At no point did any of the three hostesses working that night bother to apologize, check in, or explain why it was taking so long. Nor were we offered any appetizers (free or otherwise) to eat while we waited. At one point another party of two that didn’t have reservations AND arrived after us got seated, while we were still waiting. (We know that they didn’t have reservations and were seated before us because we were seated at the bar six feet from the hostess station, so we overheard every conversation.) Finally, at 8:48 (OVER ONE HOUR AFTER CHECK-IN), our table was ready. When the first ordered food finally arrived, at 9:30 p.m., it seemed quite tasty but who knows when you’re that hungry.
Also, Fiola, if you’re listening, we would have gladly paid for the five-course tasting menu had we been seated promptly. But given how long that can take, I just didn’t have it in me given how late we were seated. You would make more money off of us had you seated us promptly, and we might even have given you a better review and been more willing to consider going back.
At any rate, the total bill was $150 for two pasta appetizers (the spaghetti Bolognese special, and the lobster ravioli, both of which were very good but not great), one shared entrée (the braised beef short ribs, where were boneless and ridiculously tender) and one shared dessert (the ricotta donuts, easily the best part of the meal); at this price point, which doesn’t include alcohol, I expect better treatment. The spaghetti’s sauce was heavy and substantial, though I would have preferred a bit more meat (perhaps some wild boar ragu). The pasta itself was comparable to that of Galileo III. Lobster ravioli was full of lobster, but could have used a bit more other flavor to complement it, if you ask me. Short ribs were, as mentioned, quite tender and had a good flavor, plus excellent marbling. The ricotta donuts were fantastic, with great texture and just the right amount of sweetness.
In fairness, I should say that while the three hostesses (Why do you need three when none of them bother checking in with waiting patrons? Couldn’t one person “not check in” just as easily as three?) did nothing about our wait, at least the bartenders checked in frequently and comped us with prosecco for our troubles. Fiola, if you’re really aiming to be a four-star destination, you could start by treating properly your customers who have reservations and want to pay you to eat nice food. The intake process is your first interaction with potential diners, and if that goes poorly you’ve created a bad first impression. As we all know, it’s very difficult to overcome negative first impressions. Here’s hoping others have better luck with Fiola.
We took a cab and had the driver come take us back as well. It was convenient, but rather expensive given that our hotel called a town car when we really just wanted a cab. The SITA bus does take you near to di Nonno. My recommendation would be ask your hotel how best to get to San Pietro, and then walk over from there. The SITA bus driver will definitely know San Pietro, so you could probably ask him before getting on if he would be willing to drop you off there. Enjoy!
Apologies for the long delay in replying to these questions; I inadvertently forgot to subscribe to this thread so didn't know anybody had questions.
PeggyD, Barilotto di Nonno is not really walking distance from Positano in my opinion. It is, however, walking distance from a hotel/restaurant famous for its views (I think it's San Pietro?). My suggestion: get to the hotel before sundown to enjoy a drink overlooking Positano, then walk down to di Nonno for a better dinner at half the price San Pietro would charge you. BTW, I just discovered that Google Maps has di Nonno on there, even with street view and you can virtually walk down the street to San Pietro. Man, brings back memories...
Amyr, in Rome we stayed at Albergo del Senato. Hotel was clean, breakfast was decent, price was reasonable, but the best part was the location. It was literally steps away from the Pantheon, walking distance to almost everything. And they have a rooftop bar where you can enjoy the view of the Pantheon while drinking some prosecco. In Positano, we stayed at Albergo del Miramare. Staff was friendly and helpful (minus trying to keep us away from di Nonno), view while eating breakfast was fantastic, and the rate was reasonable. As with everywhere in Positano, you had to walk up and down tons of stairs to get anywhere, including to the SITA bus station, so bear that in mind.
Next up for us is Greece, so we will be sure to check on here for suggestions before going and post our reviews when we get back.
I'm not sure where on the Amalfi coast you are going, but if you plan to stop in Positano, my wife and I really enjoyed Barilotto del Nonno(translates to my grandfather's barrel). It is a family owned tratorria style restaurant and the food was fantastic and very authentic. The service was warm and friendly as well. It also definitely is a non-touristy location. When we went we were one of two parties at the restaurant. It's a bit off the beaten path, but worth going to.
Thanks Gretchen! We definitely enjoyed the trip, and would love to report back next time we have something worth contributing.
My wife and I took a trip to Rome and Italy’s Amalfi Coast in June, and after learning so much on these boards we wanted to give back by adding our thoughts on the restaurants we visited. We’ve never written up a report of our travels before, so apologies if we leave off any necessary details. Hopefully this will prove helpful for those in the future planning visits to these wonderful places.
(A note on us: we love Italian food and Italy, but neither of us speaks Italian. That said, we did not encounter any difficulties with translation at any of the restaurants listed below, although some waiters spoke better English than others, obviously.)
We started off our trip in Rome, and then went to the Amalfi Coast where we set up home base in Positano. We will describe each restaurant in chronological order.
Armando al Pantheon
Cul de Sac
Buca di Bacco
Barilotto di Nonno
Favorite Dish (me): Lo Guaracino’s foccaccia bruschetta
It is hard for us to overstate how much we enjoyed Barilotto di Nonno. Not only were the food and drink fantastic, but we loved the service just as much. Add in the fact that they don’t overcharge like other Positano restaurants do, and in our opinion you get a better product at a better price than anybody else offers in Positano. Also, I think we loved this place so much because it encapsulated how a great meal in Italy should be, with delicious food, fantastic house wines, amazing limoncello, and a lovely little old man serving as waiter while regaling you with stories about the town. Frankly, after the meal we decided we had to write a review just so this place will stay in business and we can visit again. We have no stake in the restaurant, other than wanting it to succeed so we can eat there again.
We hope this review is helpful, and thank all of you who have posted your experiences of dining in Italy, as it was immensely helpful to us in planning our trip.