Fabio Trabocchi is meticulous about his cooking – from the sourcing of ingredients, to the butchering of meat, to the Italian traditions that are the foundation of his dishes. This attention to detail is, in turn, evident in his extensive knowledge of Italy’s culinary heritage, skillful techniques and creative imagination.
Fabio’s passion for cooking grew organically beside his father and grandparents growing up in Italy’s Le Marche region. By the age of eight, he was very comfortable in the kitchen, which explains his decision to pursue culinary school in his early teens and his progression of apprenticeships in kitchens throughout the region.
By age 16, he was working in the kitchen of a three-star Michelin restaurant, Gualtiero Marchesi, and at 18, he was responsible for the entire kitchen staff at the Michelin one-star Navalge Moena. In London, Fabio began to showcase his own culinary style at the celebrated Floriana, where he won the Carlton Award for London’s Best Young Chef in 1999. The acclaim, in turn, earned him the attention of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC, which invited him to design his own kitchen and create the vision and concept for Maestro in the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner in McLean, VA.
While at Maestro, he created a study in the evolution of Italian cuisine, he launched into a new level of the American dining scene. In 2002, he was named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef, in 2005, he was awarded Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, and in 2006, and he earned the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef – Mid-Atlantic. As the restaurant’s chef de cuisine, he also earned a series of four-star reviews from the Washington Post and Washingtonian Magazine.
Also in 2006, Trabocchi celebrated his personal culinary heritage in his first cookbook, Cucina of Le Marche (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2006), co-authored with Peter Kaminsky.
Trabocchi left Washington in 2008 and join Steve Hanson’s BR Guest Hospitality as Executive Chef at Fiamma in New York. While heading this kitchen, Frank Bruni awarded Trabocchi with three stars in the New York Times, a rave review that joined others from publications such as The New York Daily News, The Washington Post and New York Magazine; in 2009, Fiamma was awarded one Michelin star in its annual Guide.
In 2011, Trabocchi returned to Washington, DC to open Fiola, a trattoria moderna located in the heart of the bustling Penn Quarter neighborhood. As Chef and Partner of this celebrated destination restaurant, Trabocchi and his team use the freshest ingredients for daily changing lunch and dinner menus, the focus of which is to serve traditional Italian dishes with the progressive twist for which Trabocchi is known.
In October, 2011, Trabocchi and his team were honored by Esquire Magazine as one of the “Best New Restaurants 2011.
Fabio Trabocchi, Chef-Partner
Maria Trabocchi, Special Events
Justus Frank, Chef de Cuisine
Justus Frank has lived in the Washington, DC area since he was 10 years old. Originally planning to pursue a degree at James Madison University, Frank left after one year to follow his true passion – cooking - and enrolled in the culinary program at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, NC.
Frank came to Fiola by way of some of the top restaurants in Washington. After working at Notti Bianchi for one year, Justus followed Executive Chef Anthony Chittum to Vermilion, where he worked the line at night, gaining additional experience in another kitchen, the Majestic, by day. He was eventually promoted to sous chef at Vermilion, where he held the position for a year. In 2009, Frank left Vermilion to help Chef Miles Vaden open Eventide, serving as sous-chef at the acclaimed Arlington, VA restaurant for over a year.
In early 2011, Frank joined the Fiola team as sous-chef and later was promoted to chef de cuisine.
Tom Wellings, Executive Pastry Chef
Tom Wellings brings an eye for creative seasonality and a strong background in Italian-influenced desserts to his position as Pastry Chef at Fiola. This marks the third time Chef Fabio Trabocchi and Chef Wellings are working together.
In 2007, Wellings served as Pastry Chef at Trabocchi’s fine dining destination, Maestro. During his time at Maestro, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington nominated him for the Pastry Chef of the Year award. In 2008, Wellings followed Trabocchi to Fiamma, where he offered New York diners a taste of his Italian-influenced modern interpretations.
Wellings began his culinary career specializing in savory offerings while attending the New England Culinary Institute. During his first garde manger position at Hugo’s in Portland, Maine, Wellings got a taste of dessert preparations, and was inspired to enroll at the French Culinary Institute to pursue his new interest.
Upon his graduation in 2004, Wellings had the good fortune to cut his teeth at some of the most notable, progressive restaurants in the country, including WD-50 in New York, Clio in Boston and Trio in Chicago before joining the pastry department at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. During his impressive career, Wellings also served as pastry chef at Restaurant Eve for one year. Prior to coming to Fiola, Wellings served as Pastry Chef at Equinox, impressing guests with his seasonally inspired desserts.
At Fiola, Wellings utilizes Italian ingredients to create modern takes on traditional pastry preparations, such as the Budino Piemontese, made with chocolate hazelnut cream, caramel sauce and Alba hazelnut oil gelato, and a vanilla pannacotta, served with raspberry sorbetto and raspberry merengue. Wellings also reimagines existing favorites such as the decadent bomboloni by serving them with stracciatella affogato.
John Toigo, Assistant General Manager & Wine Director
John Toigo is the Wine Director and Assistant General Manager at Fiola. In this dual role Toigo expands the staff’s wine knowledge as well as elevates the fine-dining standards of service at Fiola. Toigo possesses the rare ability to make the serious and sometimes intimidating subject of wine approachable and fun.
Toigo comes from The Inn at Little Washington where, as Cellar Master, he assisted Wine Director Jennifer Knowles in maintaining the award-winning restaurant’s remarkable cellar. It was at The Inn with its selection of more than 2,400 wines that Toigo learned the art of maintaining a list that kept pace with modern palates while celebrating the rich history and tradition of wine.
Prior to working at The Inn at Little Washington, Toigo was the Sommelier and Cellar Master at Plume restaurant located in The Jefferson Hotel in Washington, DC. As part of the opening team at Plume, Toigo worked with Wine Director Michael Scaffidi and was charged with creating a wine list that reflected the taste of one of America’s first wine connoisseurs, President Thomas Jefferson.
Toigo was born in Washington, DC to a military family and raised all over the world. Though he is from an Italian family that still owns a winery in Montepulciano, Italy, Toigo didn’t become interested in wine until he began attending Michigan State University to study for his B.A. in Hospitality Management. Since MSU didn’t have any advanced level wine courses, Toigo ended up creating his own curriculum and passed the first two levels of the Court of Master Sommeliers before his graduation.
At Fiola, Toigo offers a wine list that reflects the knowledge and history of Italian wine with additional layers of depth and character. He also looks forward to bringing more seasonality to the list and introducing guests to centuries of history that includes hundreds of little-known indigenous Italian grape varietals. His goal is to give guests a list they can embrace both for special occasions and for a casual weeknight dinner.
Farhat Haq, Restaurant Manager
Born in Queens, New York and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Farhat was exposed to the world of food and hospitality at a young age. The culture of a restaurant from the menu, to the atmosphere, to the guest experience has always fascinated Farhat. Wowing his guests from the minute they walk through the door is something he feels passionately about. He started his restaurant career 8 years ago and has worked on all levels of operations. Developing and motivating his team to give the best possible guest experience is his expertise. Part of living in Washington DC is enjoying the incredible food and wine and the reason why he is so thrilled to be a member of the Fiola team.
Jonathan Eagleton, Restaurant Manager
Jonathan was born and raised in Washington DC. He began his career in hospitality as a teenager at the Gulf Coast Kitchen in Bethesda and got hooked on the high energy and excitement of the industry. Jonathan eventually landed at the Georgetown Waterfront as a General Manager for Oceanside Management at Tony & Joe’s Seafood Place, Riverside Grille and Cabanas Restaurant. After 11 years at the Waterfront, he looks forward to being a part of such an exciting time of growth and success as Fabio Trabocchi’s group expands. In his free time, Jonathan can be found kayaking or having an adventure in Rock Creek Park with his 200 pound English mastiff puppy.