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Tonight was exactly two weeks to the day (according to the delightful hostess who seated us) since Bibiana's opening. If this is a restaurant that's still ironing out early kinks though, it really doesn't show it. Service was clicking, the food was--with two minor quibbles--excellent, and in general Bibiana feels like a place that's aiming high. Service deserves a call out...the meal was well paced, and there was always someone around when we needed something. At one point we stopped another waiter on his way back to the kitchen, who graciously and knowledgeably walked us through the wine list. Two different managers came over to ask about our meal. Overall I really got a sense of genuine, shared enthusiasm for the new venture. Highlights of our dinner included a wonderful little plate of saffron arancini, a creamy, earthy risotto encased in a perfect little crunchy shell. Great stuff. A squid ink spaghetti with blue crab was wonderful, each component intensely flavorful on its own but even better in combination. My entree of whole grilled branzino, filleted tableside and served with a lemon and dill sauce spooned on top, was fresh and well cooked and would really have been a winner if it had been served skin side up to preserve the skin's crispiness. That was minor quibble #1. When I mentioned this to one of the managers who had come over to ask how things were, they apologized and brought over a glass of wine on the house. Completely unnecessary, and I really don't think I gave the impression I was unhappy, but a nice touch. Earlier in the meal I was a bit unnerved by how quickly the grilled sardines came out of the kitchen...sure enough they were warm, but hardly seemed like they'd been grilled - no char, no crispy skin. Not sure what went on there...too bad, too, since they were really very tasty little fish. That was minor quibble #2. Desserts were delicious. Overall we were really pleased with our first meal here, and I wouldn't be surprised at all, just given the energy and enthusiasm of the place, if it gets even better over time.
Badwolf DC has information about Casa Luca. http://www.casalucadc.com/ is the restaurant's website. http://www.opentable.com/casa-luca is Open Table's site for reservations. Fabio won the Rammy award this past weekend as D. C.'s Chef of the Year for Fiola.