#104 - Fiorella Italian Kitchen, National Harbor, MD

A couple weeks ago I was back in Maryland visiting friends and family.  I go every summer, usually in late July before things get really crazy getting ready for football season.  I also try to go back for a Maryland football game if my schedule allows. I get together with friends, do some shopping, et at some of my favorite places, and of course do some work every day. As much as I wish I could ignore work while I'm there, with it being that close to football season that's almost impossible. So usually I knock out a couple of hours in the morning, and then have the rest of the day to myself.

The first Saturday of the trip my mom and I went out to do some shopping.  There's several outlet malls in the area, but one I had never been to was Tanger Outlets.  And I'd also never been to National Harbor. I didn't go crazy shopping, especially since anything I bought I would have to get back home, but I found some good stuff.

National Harbor is located on the Potomac River, about 30 minutes from my parents' house. This area has seen an amazing revitalization in the past 15-20 years. It kind of began with the building of the Gaylord Hotel, and then restaurants, shops, and the outlet mall exploded on the scene to create a major attraction. They also do boat tours, summer concerts and movie nights, and have a walking trail. We walked through the Gaylord, just to see how it compared to the one in Dallas where we stayed for the Cotton Bowl.  Have to admit, I like the Dallas one better. It's just more open and spacious. There are also a lot of condos and apartments in the area, and I'm sure they are wicked expensive. 

After much contemplation on food, we decided to try out Fiorella Italian Kitchen. 

I took the picture because of the turtle, not the fat, naked guy on top...

They have a cute outdoor patio, as do most of the restaurants at National Harbor.  But it was hot and humid, and the only available tables were on the direct sunlight. No thanks. The restaurant was still super crowded, even though it was after 2pm. The only immediate seating was the bar area, so we took it. The bar area is to the right as you enter the restaurant, and features seating at the bar itself, as well as a few high top tables. In the main dining room it's a combination of large family-sized tables, booths and regular tables. There's a large open kitchen just beyond the bar, and we noticed they also do a very brisk takeout business.  

The menu is pretty simple. Appetizers, salads, pasta, pizza, calzones, and fresh fish. They offer 8 different types of fish, and each can be prepared in one of 3 different ways. 

We both wanted pizza, and originally we were each going to get one, but then we saw one come out to the table next to us and it was quite big. So we decided to do a half and half. Mom got Margherita, and I got the fennel sausage

Margherita - Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil, & Tomato Bruchetta served on top
Fennel Sausage - House-Made Sausage, Roasted Peppers, Onions, Mozzarella
When the pizza came out I realized we had no room on the table for the tray. But lo and behold, there was a table leaf that the server pulled out to put the pizza on! Brilliant idea for the bar area to maximize space.

I'm slowly but surely becoming a fan of thin crust pizza. Given a choice I'll always go for the thicker crust, but that's not even an option here.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how much sausage there was. I thought it would be like sausage balls or slices, but it was crumbles. Very flavorful and delicious.  My mom really liked hers too.  This crust was even thinner than others I've had, but I liked it. 

We hadn't ordered an appetizer, but I had seen a couple on the menu that looked good. As we waited for the pizza to arrive, a table near us got the fried house-made mozzarella balls.  They looked divine, so I ordered it when we got the pizza

Wow these were so good! Larger than I was expecting, and I really liked that it was served in a bed of marinara sauce.  The mozzarella was perfectly, lightly fried, came to the table extremely hot, and was delicious. My mom doesn't like a whole lot of cheese so she only had half of one. Which left the rest for me. And I certainly was not complaining as I devoured them.

Will I go back?  Yes!  I really enjoyed the atmosphere, and would love to sit out on the patio and enjoy a meal.