I am quickly falling in love with the National Harbor. The quirky, off the beaten path boutiques, the river views on a beautiful day and of course, the food. During my most recent visits, I have been swooned by one particular restaurant, Fiorella. Fiorella managed to snag the best piece of real estate on the Harbor where it sits directly on the banks of the Potomac River. On my first visit I sat outdoors and was provided the best views of the river at night, perfect for a date night.
The name says it all; it is clearly an Italian restaurant which aims to have a little something for everyone. Being the purist that I am when it comes to Italian restaurants, I am always reluctant to trust an Italian menu that has an Alfredo dish. The ironic thing is I love Alfredo. It is totally an American way of making pasta and after my visit to Rome earlier this year; I know that we clearly made this one up. I kept my optimism, however, because after eyeing some of the Roman style pizzas coming from the kitchen at Fiorella, I knew my curiosity would not let me leave.
On my first visit, we had the antipasto salad, baked shrimp Alfredo and the four cheese pizza. The star of the show was clearly the pizza. Topped with stracchino, Gorgonzola, provolone, mozzarella and basil, it fulfilled every dream I had for that night: to be full, eat flavorful food and not compromise my waistline. On my second visit, I was anxious to get back to that pizza. This time, I took a different route with hearty starters such as the meatballs, which were seasoned and topped with a thick tomato sauce. Forgetting I had already tried the baked shrimp Alfredo, I ordered it again (*because I can be boring at times…) and of course I had plate envy. Plate envy is when you want what someone else at your table or the next table ordered instead of what you ordered.
Plate envy ensued from the minute the Italian Southern Fried Chicken and mashed potatoes arrived. The epitome of juiciness, the perfect blend of Italian seasoning meets basic seasonings breading two pieces of piping hot chicken breasts is the best way to describe the latter. The mashed potatoes did nothing for the dish where they showed no personality other than the contrast of colors on the plate. I shifted my attention to the fish entrees on the table with the salmon taking the first place prize over the Whole Branzino alla Provencale (*Mediterranean Sea Bass). The branzino seemed to be drowning in its pool of tomato, garlic and basil sauce where the salmon was slightly complimented by fresh cracked pepper.
The highlight of my second sitting was the dessert. You know my feelings on dessert so it surprised me when I devoured the bread pudding combined with apples and walnuts and topped with vanilla gelato. The warm combination mixed with the cool creamy gelato tempts me every time like the annual sale at Neiman Marcus. I always go overboard.
Besides my obsession with views of waterways, food can get me to go just about anywhere. Fiorella has added yet another reason I need to spend more time at the Harbor. With views like this and a good glass of red on deck, they don’t have to do much convincing.