Friday, August 20, 2010

Bibiana's Piatti Piccoli, Bravo

Bibiana has been on my short-list of must-try DC restaurants for almost six months now, so I was excited to finally taste the Tom-approved Italian cooking a few Fridays ago. My expectations were high; Bibiana is under the same umbrella as Rasika.  And having been there before for drinks and dessert, I knew I already adored the dimly lit interior, with its larger than life black and white prints of  Italian scenes, and rich dark wood and orange tones offset by modern, large stainless steel chandeliers.

We were not disappointed. Bibiana is a fantastic addition to the DC Italian dining scene, with a fairly extensive Italian wine list, attentive, but not hovering service, and a varied menu focused on seasonal ingredients. But--and this is a big but--I did not think it was quite at the level of Tosca, especially the pasta dishes.

Where Bibiana really shines is in their Piatti Piccoli.  The fried pumpkin blossoms were so delicate and light with a touch of sea salt that the flavor of the blossom was elegantly showcased and while fried, tasted lighter than air.  The chicken liver was rich and smooth, but what really set it apart was the pickled red onion and grilled bread which made for an extremely flavorful and well-balanced bite.

The split burrata, a fresh Italian cheese made with mozzarella and cream, pictured below was paired with heirloom tomatoes and basil.  It was decadent and creamy.

The pasta entrees are where some seams started to show.  The veal ravioli in a brown butter and sage sauce topped with shaved pecorino was a good flavor combination, but the pasta encasing the filling was too thick and muted the veal flavor.

The Maryland crab over black spaghetti was a better balance, but a bit muted in flavor as well and not overly memorable.  Next time, I think my strategy will be to try the meat/fish entrees vice the pasta. 

Dessert, an apricot semifreddo was as delicious as it is pretty; pure over-the-top apricot goodness: apricot-soaked cake, apricot gelato, and candied apricots.  It sounds like overload, but the varied textures and delicate preparations contrasted nicely.

Dinner with a bottle of excellent Primitivo, two appetizers, salad, two entrees, dessert, tax and tip was $165. 

Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca on Urbanspoon

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