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Modena (Formerly Bibiana), Downtown in the old Luigino Space - Chef John Melfi and Breads from Mark Furstenberg


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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.

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I'm not sure why Bibiana isn't getting more feedback relative to several other newly opened restaurants. I had a wonderful meal here last night, and Nick Stefanelli's considerable talents seem to be on full display right now.

I feel like I've "penalized" Tosca over the years by emphasizing what terrific values their half-orders of pastas are - often to the exclusion of their other wonderful dishes which happen to be fully priced. But I have to do the same with Bibiana, whose half-orders of pasta should entice everyone to come in here and order with reckless abandon.

Right now, the crowds are out in force, especially in the main dining areas, but the bar was wide open at 7:30 PM last night.

While looking through the main wine list, I was shaking my head at what I thought was a fatal flaw: virtually nothing by the bottle under $40, which would be enough to kill mid-week crowds here. However, I happened to miss page one, which lists a nice selection of value-priced wines offered by the glass, quartino, half-bottle, and full bottle, most of which are in the $30s, and some of which are in the $20s. If you want to drink here and not spend a lot of money, turn straight to this page.

One dish in particular I'd like to highlight is the most-expensive pasta dish on the menu: Spaghetti Al Nero Di Seppia ($10.50 for a half-order), black spaghetti with blue crab, in a classic aglio, olio e peperoncino sauce. The spaghetti itself glistens with pan-emulsified oilve oil and pasta starch, and the occasional peperoncino cuts through everything, keeping this rich dish light on its feet. The white lumps of crab provide a beautiful visual contrast to the black spaghetti, and this half-order is nearly enough for a full meal; I followed it with an appetizer, Trippa alla Parmigiana ($10), a hearty portion of slow-braised beef tripe, bathing in a rich tomato sauce, covered with Parmigiano-Reggiano, finished in a hot oven, and served in an untouchably hot vessel with grilled bread for dunking. As much as I liked this dish, I could not finish it, and took the second half to go.

I patted myself on the back for nailing the wine pairings: an Arneis with the spaghetti and crab, and a Primitivo with the baked tripe.

Bibiana has been very successful early on, and deservedly so. It's a tough reservation right now, but you won't regret having dinner at the bar. I suspect the bar may be crowded during happy hour, but if you wait until 7:30 or later, you should be fine.

Congratulations to Chef Nick Stefanelli, GM Christian Pendleton, Pastry Chef Douglas Hernandez, Wine Director Francesco Amodeo, and Owner Ashok Bajaj for their early success with Bibiana, which is shaping up to be one of the most important openings of 2009. Ashok, in particular, has been defying the recession, paying attention to all of his restaurants, hiring and retaining superior talent (Conte, Stefanelli, Sunderam, etc.), and providing jobs for people who otherwise might not have them. When I first saw his national-level James Beard nomination for "Restaurateur of the Year" a couple years ago, I was left scratching my head, but if you think about what he has done with his flagships (Bibiana, The Oval Room, Rasika), not to mention his controlled, steady renovations and upgrades of his other restaurants (Bombay Club, 701, Ardeo), all of which have a unique character as opposed to a "corporate sameness," I have to ask myself ... why NOT Ashok?

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I followed it with an appetizer, Trippa alla Parmigiana ($10), a hearty portion of slow-braised beef tripe, bathing in a rich tomato sauce, covered with Parmigiano-Reggiano, finished in a hot oven, and served in an untouchably hot vessel with grilled bread for dunking. As much as I liked this dish, I could not finish it, and took the second half to go.

This is listed as an antipasto on the menu at Bibiana's website. Your description makes it sound more like a secondo, which for ten dollars would be most people's idea of a bargain (given that it's good). Are other antipasti similarly hefty?

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I have enjoyed Bibiana several times and always sit at the bar. I have enjoyed the pastas and pizzas, the risotto and a grilled fish. Tom Street is one of my favorite bartenders in the city, he really has all the fundamentals down and puts out a distinctive cocktail list.

At the risk of sounding like a glutton, though, I don't find their portions particularly hefty. I've had the tripe several times, and it's wonderful (almost like a penne in a red sauce) but we're talking about a 5 or 7oz serving of tripe and sauce. The smoked gnocchi ($16) is also very nice, but a full order may be 10 or 11 ounces.

EDIT: The pizzas however ($10 -$15) are plenty.

Edited by DaRiv18
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This is listed as an antipasto on the menu at Bibiana's website. Your description makes it sound more like a secondo, which for ten dollars would be most people's idea of a bargain (given that it's good). Are other antipasti similarly hefty?

If you look at their menu, there's a Piatti Piccoli (small plates) section, then Antipasti, Le Salumi, Pasta, and onto the main courses. There are some pretty rich dishes listed under antipasti - cuttlefish stew, sweetbreads, egg pizza with fonduta and lardo - and this tripe dish is heavy by nature, especially when you start dunking the grilled bread into the sauce. The ramekin itself was medium-big but not huge (perhaps enough for two to share, clumsy as that may be sitting across from each other). The reason I took half of it home is because it was a rich dish, I had finished every single bite of my black spaghetti and crab, I wasn't that hungry when I walked into the restaurant, and I just didn't feel like being stuffed when I left. I guess to directly address your question: Tripe dishes tend to be relatively inexpensive (a decade ago, tripe was literally a throwaway item at many restaurants), so ten dollars can get you a pretty hearty portion. To nitpick, I actually thought the sauce could have been just a bit more zesty in order to cut through the melted cheese and the wonderfully decadent grilled bread.

Cheers,

Rocks.

I have enjoyed Bibiana several times and always sit at the bar. I have enjoyed the pastas and pizzas

...

EDIT: The pizzas however ($10 -$15) are plenty.

P.S. One of my biggest complaints about Luigino was their pizza oven, which was gas-burning, and resulted in fairly mediocre pizzas relative to the rest of their fine menu (Luigino was a very underrated restaurant). The transformation into Bibiana is so extensive that the space is almost unrecognizable, but the pizza oven itself looks similar to the old one, and I wonder if it was unable to be upgraded because of architectural constraints, building codes, etc. Does anyone know?

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I have enjoyed Bibiana several times and always sit at the bar. I have enjoyed the pastas and pizzas, the risotto and a grilled fish. Tom Street is one of my favorite bartenders in the city, he really has all the fundamentals down and puts out a distinctive cocktail list.

At the risk of sounding like a glutton, though, I don't find their portions particularly hefty. I've had the tripe several times, and it's wonderful (almost like a penne in a red sauce) but we're talking about a 5 or 7oz serving of tripe and sauce. The smoked gnocchi ($16) is also very nice, but a full order may be 10 or 11 ounces.

I thought the portion size of the smoked gnocci was small, and my perception was exacerbated by the mammoth size of the white bowl in which it was served. The size of the bowl accentuated the petite nature of the serving. After I had a few bites, though, I was pretty bored with the dish. I wouldn't have wanted more. I also think my serving wasn't properly cooked - the outer part of the gnocci was kind of tough, while the inside part was kind of flabby. I'm not a gnocchi expert, so perhaps they were perfect and I'm a dunce. But while I had the highest of hopes for Bibiana, and it is oh so close to SO's place of work, I don't think I'll rush back.

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I thought the portion size of the smoked gnocci was small, and my perception was exacerbated by the mammoth size of the white bowl in which it was served. The size of the bowl accentuated the petite nature of the serving. After I had a few bites, though, I was pretty bored with the dish. I wouldn't have wanted more. I also think my serving wasn't properly cooked - the outer part of the gnocci was kind of tough, while the inside part was kind of flabby. I'm not a gnocchi expert, so perhaps they were perfect and I'm a dunce. But while I had the highest of hopes for Bibiana, and it is oh so close to SO's place of work, I don't think I'll rush back.

As a gnocchi lover, I appreciate this information. It certainly sounds like the gnocchi weren't made very well. They should be light, but not mushy. Certainly not tough. If I go to Bibiana (and so far, the majority of recent reviews and expceriences I've heard about from friends aren't all that positive), I won't be getting the gnocchi. Btw, IMHO and in the opinions of a couple of Italian friends who are accomplished cooks, Al Tiramisu has the best gnocchi in the city. I will say that the service there can be lacking at times, but the gnocchi has consistently been excellent.

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Spaghetti Al Nero Di Seppia ($10.50 for a half-order), black spaghetti with blue crab, in a classic aglio, olio e peperoncino sauce. The spaghetti itself glistens with pan-emulsified oilve oil and pasta starch, and the occasional peperoncino cuts through everything, keeping this rich dish light on its feet. . . I followed it with an appetizer, Trippa alla Parmigiana ($10), a hearty portion of slow-braised beef tripe, bathing in a rich tomato sauce, covered with Parmigiano-Reggiano,

The reason I took half of it home is because it was a rich dish, I had finished every single bite of my black spaghetti and crab

Just had lunch there and ordered the black spaghetti. Oh my! No wonder you couldn't finish the tripe. I'd find Corn Chex to be hefty if it had to follow this dish. Rich and "light on its feet" is spot on.

The transformation into Bibiana is so extensive that the space is almost unrecognizable, but the pizza oven itself looks similar to the old one, and I wonder if it was unable to be upgraded because of architectural constraints, building codes, etc. Does anyone know?

I was told 1) it is a new oven and 2) it is a very expensive new oven.

Lola007, thanks for the Al Tiramisu tip, I'll have to try their gnocchi. I did try Proof's lunch crush gnocchi ($12, including a glass of white wine!) and that was killer. Oyster mushrooms, grilled green onions, green beans in a nice sauce. I liked Bibiana's gnocchi but I am no guru.

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I've lunched at Bibiana twice with Tuesday being the second time.

First time was a couple of weeks ago and I had the chestnut soup (rich, really rich, good, didn't finish) followed by the lamb (generous) and 3 flavors of gelati to end. I thought it was good, but not great. I think it was fine, but maybe not for the price-tag.

Second time changed my mind. I started with a very interesting sorrel and arugula salad. I won't order it again but that's because the bitter parts were too bitter for me but I understand how the contrast could be quite likable. Also, the dressing was perfect in terms of amount and flavor.

I ordered the crab and pasta and as others have attested, it is perfect. I didn't finish the huge pasta pile, but did fish out every sliver of crab. Where did that crab come from? I would guess that it was from the Gulf. Perfect, yummy, and I wanted more. My dining companions both had other dishes, finished way before me, and seemed hungry after. So maybe the serving sizes are fine for us small-people but the larger people might not feel satisfied. (they did have starters).

I had the chocolate mouse to finish. PERFECT. Heaven. OMG, I want it now, but with port. It looked so rich yet was light.

A note on service. The service here is still perfect.

A note on atmosphere: quite enough to talk during lunch. One of the people I dine with regularly doesn't hear well so I am particularly sensitive to this point.

I will be back.

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I ordered the crab and pasta and as others have attested, it is perfect. I didn't finish the huge pasta pile, but did fish out every sliver of crab. Where did that crab come from? I would guess that it was from the Gulf. Perfect, yummy, and I wanted more.

I went a few weeks ago, and have to disagree with the assessment of the crab spaghetti, there was not much about this dish that I cared for (granted it very well could have been an off version of the dish). I found that the pasta lacked much in the way of texture, just too light without a hint of chew. Also the crab was visible to the eye, but absent on the palette (I had a similar issue with the salt cod). I did enjoy the tripe, but found that the Parmesan took on a less than pleasing gamey flavor. For me the brightest light of that dinner was the appearance of lardo on a menu in DC, and was delighted by the flavor and texture.

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I'm going to second what Sthitch said about the crab spaghetti. My wife and I found it lacking in flavor and overpriced. Copious amounts of chili peppers were added (by her) to give the dish some life, but ultimately it is definitely not something we would order again.

I'm not in agreement with a lot of the praise being heaped onto this restaurant right now, as everything we had outside of the service (which was excellent) was between 'mediocre' and 'good'. I'll have to make a return trip to see if it was an off night.

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I'm going to second what Sthitch said about the crab spaghetti. My wife and I found it lacking in flavor and overpriced. Copious amounts of chili peppers were added (by her) to give the dish some life, but ultimately it is definitely not something we would order again.

I'm not in agreement with a lot of the praise being heaped onto this restaurant right now, as everything we had outside of the service (which was excellent) was between 'mediocre' and 'good'. I'll have to make a return trip to see if it was an off night.

Hum...I really liked the crab. I'm from Louisiana and Gulf seafood has a flavor, a sweetness, that I don't often encounter here. I found the flavor of the pasta delicate, to be sure, which complemented the crab nicely. Maybe it wasn't from the gulf, but it was very sweet and nice.

As for the praise, truth to tell, I would rather go to Tosca.

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Hum...I really liked the crab. I'm from Louisiana and Gulf seafood has a flavor, a sweetness, that I don't often encounter here. I found the flavor of the pasta delicate, to be sure, which complemented the crab nicely.

It could be that they do not have a consistent source for their crab, my dish had nothing, no sweetness, no flavor. The main issue I had with the pasta is that the texture was too delicate, I generally find this to be an issue with fresh extruded pasta as opposed to high quality dried pasta that has been worked enough to develop sufficient gluten and extruded through bronze dies to give it some surface texture.

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I liked my squid ink pasta. The texture was more like ramen than anything else and the crab meat was good quality. Perhaps it was just inconsistency that made some bland. I had a small bite of agnolotti, it was tender and buttery with a nice lemony flavor that cuts through the rich sauce. I liked two of the three salumi (speck and sopressata), and didn't like the oyster one bit. It was served room temperature with an all too sour lemon sauce that completely covered up the natural briny goodness of fresh oysters. The 2 person tables were way too small for comfort. Its only about as wide as most people's shoulder and if you order one of the chauterie board, then you will barely have room for appetizer plates.

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A Restaurant Week success for lunch. The menu had around 7 options per course for entree and main and 4 or 5 desserts. Very minimal upcharges on only a couple dishes.

we started with

Sheeps milk ricotta agnolotti with lemon, marjoram and spinach. Pillowly soft pasta, rich with a bite of lemon.

Veal Meatball, with polenta...fantastic. I would highly recommend this dish.

Entree

Skate with a bean ragu and herb salad...didn't get around to having a bite but looked and reported as good.

Bucatini with guanciale, red onion, red chili, pecorino for a very spare plate of pasta had a lot of flavor, perfectly cooked pasta...I enjoyed.

Dessert was a mixed bag

I liked the lemon curd tart (very rich hit you over the head, but I like that kind of thing)

The salty caramel gelato was not very exciting.

The dining room to the left of the bar is kind of drabe, the room to the right definitely more dressed up.

For $20 definitely a good deal.

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I went a few weeks ago, and have to disagree with the assessment of the crab spaghetti, there was not much about this dish that I cared for (granted it very well could have been an off version of the dish). I found that the pasta lacked much in the way of texture, just too light without a hint of chew. Also the crab was visible to the eye, but absent on the palette (I had a similar issue with the salt cod).

I had a half order as an appetizer for lunch this week. I liked the dish, but agree that the crab was somewhat overpowered by the oil, garlic, and peperoncino sauce, which was quite good and had a subtle heat that lingered well on my taste buds even after I had eaten every bite. It did, however, shift the focus of the plate away from the crab. I followed it with the Razza - a plancha seared skate served on a bed of borlotti and cannellini bean ragu. The beans were perfectly cooked and the thin skate was crispy and flavorful on the outside yet still moist on the inside. This was a dish that could have been easily overcooked, so I appreciated the effort that went into it.

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First, I'm still a little pissed that they give their address as 1100 New York Avenue (the old Greyhound station) when they are in fact in a completely different building that was stapled to the Greyhound station and face H Street.

But, the food was pretty good. Sometimes great. The service was very wonderful. And I quite liked the wine, though the only Italian white wine names I can remember is Pinot Grigio (their sommeliere hates it too) and Gavi, and this wasn't either of those, so I won't comment. The Montepulciano d'Abruzzo was perfect.

Highlights were spectacularly fresh oysters, wonderful grilled sardines and veal meatballs on polenta. Bacalao (or, however the spell it in Italy) was meh, but salt cod always makes me happy. I was almost so annoyed by the menu terming the rabbit dish a "study" that I didn't order it but, like salt cod, there's not enough bunny in my life and what I got was resting in a pool of polenta -- eensy little ribs, a somewhat dry -- as rabbit breast will be -- bit of breast, loin wrapped in a little fat and, my favorite, bunny scrapple -- innards ground, formed, coated with crumbs and fried up crisp. A lovely little nosh.

All in all, a fine little meal, at an unridiculous -- though not cheap -- price.

I vote yes.

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I was almost so annoyed by the menu terming the rabbit dish a "study" ...

I actually miss the concept of the tasting menu as a study, it seemed a lot more creative than all of the crap that is being passed off as fine dining these days. At a long since closed restaurant in San Francisco's Financial District I enjoyed "A Study in Stilton" that still ranks amongst the best and most innovative meals I have ever had, in each dish the cheese played enough of a role that it was never lost, and showed a new component and flavor with each course (Bouley's "Fall Apple Tasting Menu" was another perfect example).

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First, I'm still a little pissed that they give their address as 1100 New York Avenue (the old Greyhound station) when they are in fact in a completely different building that was stapled to the Greyhound station and face H Street.

Actually, it's the same building. I think something with the zoning or historical landmark had them keep the front art deco part and the newer high-rise was permitted to be built behind it. So all the restaurants in that separate building is part of "1100 New York Avenue."

I never posted about my lunch, but the service was nice and the food was great is the super-short summary of it. There is a little side room to accommodate parties, but our table of 7 to the side was really nice too. Decor reminds me of The Oval Room interior -- I really want one of those metallic chandeliers, though.

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The chicken liver was quite nice but the burnt toast kind of ruined this dish. The oysters crudo didn't do much for me, I couldn't taste the lemon emulsion so it tasted like I was just downing raw oysters with no accompaniment. What was good tonight was the squid ink pasta with crab meat. The crab meat was chunky and fresh, the pasta was firm, and the touch of spiciness made me wish I had double portions. (I almost didn't order this because the first time I had it the pasta was bland and overcooked).

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A quick, early dinner (and last-minute reservation) last night before a movie at E-Street Cinema. The seared soft-shell crab is unbreaded, and adorned by an artichoke puree that didn't add much to the dish, and a spicy saffron sauce that was a much more welcome accompaniment. The crab was very fresh and tasty, but the preparation didn't provide much crispiness. I had two half-portions of pasta for an entree, the rigatoni with cauliflower, raisins, and pine nuts (fantastic, the cauliflower achieving a rich caramelization and playing perfectly against the sweet raisins and the toasted pine nuts) and my standby, the black spaghetti with crab. The portion of spaghetti was served inedibly salty, but was quickly replaced. No time for dessert.

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This week, the New York Times posted a quick review by Erica Cerulo.

The kitchen, run by Nicholas Stefanelli, a 29-year-old chef who honed his skills at the local establishments Laboratorio del Galileo and the now-defunct Maestro, turns out temptingly original starchy concoctions, like an earthy smoked potato gnocchi with goat ragù and a surprisingly rich squid-ink spaghetti that features Maryland blue crabs when they are in season.

<snip>

Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca, 1100 New York Avenue (entrance on 12th and H Streets); (202) 216-9550; bibianadc.com. Dinner for two, without drinks or tip, is about $80.

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Impulsively went to Bibiana over Proof for lunch and was very glad I did. The Bucatini pasta was delicious and perfectly cooked, although not as spicy as one might think a dish with red chili would be. Greco wine hit the spot on a hot day. The Lunch deal is a fantastic value - Wine, Bread Service, Pasta, Gelato for $15.

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The Lunch deal is a fantastic value - Wine, Bread Service, Pasta, Gelato for $15.

Note that this lunch deal is only available at the Bar & Lounge area, much like Proof's deal. Having said that, you can also choose Italian soda (today's flavors were Peach, Pear or Apricot) instead of wine, which cuts the carby feeling of pasta quite nicely.

However, one of the must-have items* of the lunch is their housemade prickly pear sorbet (right now, dessert options are sorbet and no longer gelato), which was refreshing, tart and smooth at the same time. Added to contrast texture were ground up nuts, lightly toasted and tossed in honey. Mmm. A deal indeed.

Take advantage!, since they are only running it until the end of August, with its fate unknown beyond.

*The other item being their Fried Artichokes which were almost like fries, but fanned fries, if there is such a thing.

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Great restaurant week experience here last night. The meatball and calamari starters were very nice openers, the meatball perfectly cooked and sitting on top of a mound of white polenta and red sauce. The calamari were smoky and beautifully plated.

The bucatini was really delightful--the extruded pasta nicely cooked and the star of the plate. The lamb was tender and nicely complemented with peperonata.

The service was highly efficient, professional and friendly, and the manager came by to thank us for the business. We'll happily go back.

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I meant to post earlier. I had a really nice extended RW dinner at Bibiana last week. I felt that everything from the service to the food to the ambience was outstanding and would definitely go back again/recommend it to others.

Friends (there were 4 of us) wanted to start with raw oysters, which I'm not a huge fan of, so I ordered the squash blossoms stuffed with salt cod separate from the RW menu to have while they had their oysters. The dish was tasty, but not mind blowing in any way. Still a nice way to start the meal for only $5. My first course off of the RW menu was the calamari. Excellent dish, lovely smoky flavor. I almost didn't get the RW menu b/c I really wanted the veal tortellini, but I had read some really good reviews of a few of the fish dishes on the RW menu and in the end, they had sold out of the tortellini so my decision was easy - stick with the RW menu and have the cod with fennel and tomato puree for my entree. The tomato puree on this dish was excellent, the cod was cooked perfectly and all of the flavors went well together. I will admit I'm a sucker for some nicely roasted fennel, but I do think this was a well executed and delicious dish, if not particularly inventive. I got the Greco to pair with both of these on the server's recommendation, which was a good choice. For dessert I again went with the server's recommendation and got the panna cotta, despite generally not being a fan of panna cotta. But the server was so enthusiastic about it that I felt I should take a chance and I'm glad that I did. The panna cotta was really creamy and delicious with a lovely fresh fig on top, but the star was the fig puree (or jam? something along those lines) on the bottom. I didn't find the panna cotta itself to be as firm as I've found it in the past, which was what always turned me off (that and I think it tends to be somewhat bland). Not sure if I just haven't had good panna cotta, or this was in a different style. Anyway, it paired perfectly with the dessert wine the server recommended - I believe it was the Zibibbo.

My only complaint would be the alcohol prices. Given the reasonable prices for their food, I think the drink prices are out of balance. I can swallow that a bit more easily with the wine because I felt the wines were of good quality, but my pre-dinner cocktail was $14! I don't think I even paid that much at Restaurant Eve. I know cocktail prices have gone up, but I think $14 given the menu here is outrageous. With only that, the glass of dessert wine, and the glass and a half portion of the greco, I spent $110 w/tax and tip, $40 of which was food. A couple of my friends were also disappointed with how long it took to get drinks. That is always a huge pet peeve of mine, but simply b/c of the way I ordered mine it didn't end up being a problem for me personally. Our server was outstanding so I think this may have been a function of the bartenders more so than the servers.

All in all a really lovely meal. Oh, and I love the design of the bar. A wall of shelves lined with liquor and wine bottles, but with small square windows cut out that let you see into the kitchen, really neat design.

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What is it about Bibiana that it has managed to keep it under the radar while sibling Rasika is so hot? Looking for a restaurant home in DC, we easily chose Bibiana over many others we tried. The collaboration between Francesco and Nick works well as they develop and Nick executes authentic Italian dishes. A favorite is the scialatielli with whatever seafood they have used. Duck, currently on the fall menu has been well prepared- very crisp skin and perfect degree of doneness. For anyone unfamiliar with these Italian wines, Francesco is excellent at choosing one that will fit the budget as well as match the food. I recommend moving from one's comfort zone and trying his suggestion for one that may be unfamiliar. If you are looking for Kendall Jackson, don't ask.

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Had a lovely lunch at Bibiana last week. Strozzapretti with pumpkin pesto and brussels sprouts was delicious -- the pasta itself was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was creamy and tasty. Roasted fig appetizer was nice but not ethereal. The space itself was very nice and not too loud, and the service very warm. In fact, it was a little too warm. Every decision we made was "excellent" our server reassured us with a smile. To my mind, this is the best Italian I've had in DC.

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Note that this lunch deal is only available at the Bar & Lounge area, much like Proof's deal. Having said that, you can also choose Italian soda (today's flavors were Peach, Pear or Apricot) instead of wine, which cuts the carby feeling of pasta quite nicely.

However, one of the must-have items* of the lunch is their housemade prickly pear sorbet (right now, dessert options are sorbet and no longer gelato), which was refreshing, tart and smooth at the same time. Added to contrast texture were ground up nuts, lightly toasted and tossed in honey. Mmm. A deal indeed.

Take advantage!, since they are only running it until the end of August, with its fate unknown beyond.

*The other item being their Fried Artichokes which were almost like fries, but fanned fries, if there is such a thing.

Lunch Deal still going strong (IT is now November) and yes, I was surprised to learn that I love prickly pear sorbet having never had it before Thursday.

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As Rocks mentioned above, I'm not sure why this place flies so far under the radar. Our very own DinerGirl will go all stabby on me for this, but seriously, Bibiana is incredible, and everyone should go there, now -- or, wait. Let me try that again. No one should go there at all, ever, leaving it all for me.

No one should go to get the phenomenal service or the outrageously good drinks, particularly the Addio al Re,Marcarini Chinato, Etichetta Nera Brandy, Orange Bitters ($12). And the food ... well, don't get the Carciofi alla Giudia that lived up to every bite of the dish I ever had in Rome. And certainly don't follow my lead on the mains, because although I almost never order pasta out, the Ravioli, Ravioli of Braised Lamb, Almonds, Espelette, Mint, Pecorino (full order $18) were out of this world, every bite a perfect compendium of flavor and texture, and if what I got is the half order, I'd like to see the person who can finish the full order.

Seriously, don't go to Bibiana. Please. Because I want to continue to be able to walk in at 7 on a Thursday and have the place to myself.

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As Rocks mentioned above, I'm not sure why this place flies so far under the radar. Our very own DinerGirl will go all stabby on me for this, but seriously, Bibiana is incredible, and everyone should go there, now -- or, wait. Let me try that again. No one should go there at all, ever, leaving it all for me.

No one should go to get the phenomenal service or the outrageously good drinks, particularly the Addio al Re,Marcarini Chinato, Etichetta Nera Brandy, Orange Bitters ($12). And the food ... well, don't get the Carciofi alla Giudia that lived up to every bite of the dish I ever had in Rome. And certainly don't follow my lead on the mains, because although I almost never order pasta out, the Ravioli, Ravioli of Braised Lamb, Almonds, Espelette, Mint, Pecorino (full order $18) were out of this world, every bite a perfect compendium of flavor and texture, and if what I got is the half order, I'd like to see the person who can finish the full order.

Seriously, don't go to Bibiana. Please. Because I want to continue to be able to walk in at 7 on a Thursday and have the place to myself.

I went on Saturday (unusual for me, but it was a friend's celebratory dinner), and had the Merluzzo, poached Atlantic cod with snails, guanciale, wild mushrooms, and parsley, and was a very happy girl. I think I'm in love with this place because, as someone with celiac, I can eat Italian food, be well taken care of with myriad options on the menu, and never be in fear that I'm going to get glutened. Nick and the team in the kitchen just get it, and for that I am forever grateful. Service has always been top-notch, and let's not forget Douglas Hernandez. He's putting out some of the best desserts in Washington right now, no joke.

They're still doing the lunch special, and having dinner at the bar is one of my favorite past-times these days because Milton makes some pretty damn fine cocktails.

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A very nice early meal for three this past Saturday. Started with three small plates--stuffed dates, fried artichoke hearts, and arancini, all very good. The arancini are remarkably light, though I think they could use more mozzarella in the center. My dining companions both had the fabled agnolotti for their main dishes are were very satisfied. I went with the pork chop specia with brussel sprouts and chestnut pureel--which was fine, but the chop was a bit fattier than I expected, not the best I've had. Bob's fruit soup with sorbet looked lovely, my apple palmier had many delicious elements, but the palmier was a bit tough. Good drinks, nice wine, expert service. My biggest disappointment may be that many of the dishes weren't served as hot as one might hope. Given that they came out quickly, and the crowd was not large at that time, they hardly could have been sitting for long. But our out-of-town guest was thrilled, and no element was a deal-breaker for our meal. Nicholas Stefanelli deserves his semifinalist James Beard nomination and this is a solid success for Ashok Bajaj,

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A first visit to Bibiana for lunch today--should I have said hi to someone? :-)

Liked it and, it was lunch so not a full test as dinner would be. Overall I'd score it a 3.5 out of 5 (not to evoke another online restaurant review site or anything).

Two of us had:

- Calzone ($13, interestingly $2 less than advertised on their website): my dining companion ordered this and our first reaction to it was its hugeness. he didn't again comment on it and I didn't ask since we were too engrossed in conversation but he did finish all of it so that's a good sign.

- Pasta e fasul soup ($8). OK. I could be wrong but I think they used some cream in this where it may not be necessary since based on heirloom beans. It was creamier than I'd have preferred and, of course, if I am right, the cream kind of works against the simpler, healthier and more delicious bean base. The pancetta and parmigiano were added in nice proportions to round out the flavor.

- Prosciutto Piandina ($12). Arugula, prosciutto di parma and mozzarella (seemed like a good quality cows milk domestic variety) on some kind of likely house-made roman flatbread. It was good and filling. I appreciated that they kept it simple and didn't "innovate" in any way to distract from good flavor.

- Capuccino ($3.50): Inspired by our new energy on the coffee house thread, I asked from whom they sourced their coffee before ordering. I wrongly guessed it was Illy since, well you know, Illy's widely available, respectable and Italian and Bibiana is Italian...never mind. To his credit, the waiter knew the correct marque, mentioning a "columbiano" brand in NY that I have not heard of. I asked about the distributor and, after checking, he told us they ordered direct from NY I think. The cap was fine--nothing exceptional but not disappointing.

Service was a bit too attentive, starting when our waiter invited us to "feel free to use the [unoccupied] chairs [at our table] to rest bags, jackets, etc. Uh, okay. Really can't complain though--I'd much rather have a bit too attentive or a bit awkward than indifferent, incompetent or combative. Bibiana is a higher-end dining room and our waiter probably just needs more experience and polish to be more natural but he served us well.

Props for something basic about the website which annoys me with many others. They have their menus integrated with the site/coded in. So you don't have to wait to launch at attached PDF file. Cool. Easier.

I'd go back again and try more interesting things the next time. Maybe for a dinner. But probably not very soon as I'll forget this experience too quickly. Next Italian lunch downtown will be G3 for sure!

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I have a list of restaurants I want to try, and not as many opportunities to try them as I'd like--anniversaries and birthdays, basically. But a milestone anniversary is an opportunity for fine dining, and I chose Bibiana from my wanna-go list. When I made the reservation, I was asked if it was a special occasion, and I was honest, and we were generously rewarded with an elegant comped dessert--a small chocolate bombe for each of us and a slice of semi-freddo on a plate with "Happy Anniversary" written on it. J enjoyed the semi-freddo for me, as it had walnuts in it which I cannot eat. But the chocoholic in me was very satisfied with the bombe: chocolate cake and mousse, with a thin crunchy layer sandwiched between them, slathered with a very intense, dark chocolate sauce.

We started with a prosecco and white peach bellini (me) and a Bombay Sapphire martini (J) and what I thought was the best dish of the meal--hay-smoked sweetbread with tonnato sauce and "coffee-cocoa soil." The sweetbread was lightly crunchy on the surface and melt-in-the mouth tender inside with a delicate smoky caste to the unctuous meat. The sauce added richness and the dark crumbs a bit of crunch--those bits and a few shards of fresh mint provided small bursts of fascinating flavor. I could have eaten a plateful. We also had arancini with tomato sauce, which were, as J described them, a blaring saxophone compared to the violin of the sweetbread. The arancini were tasty but flawed by the sauce, which was way oversalted.

The black spaghetti with crab and chili was superb. From working at BlackSalt, I remember that the way it can be with crabmeat is that some days it will be delivered and have very little flavor, and other days the flavor will be all that you look for. Fortunately for us, it was a good day for crabmeat. We enjoyed a glass of the minerally gavi (can't recall the maker) with that. J continued with the same white to accompany his olive oil poached lobster with squash blossoms stuffed with lobster mousse and hibiscus sauce, and I had a glass of aglianico with the duo of lamb with eggplant. J's verdict on his dish: "I wish it was as good as it sounded." The lobster was tender and tasty, but the lobster mousse inside the squash blossom was overcooked and oversalted. The braised lamb on my plate was nicely crisped on the outside, verging on over-braised underneath, falling apart-stringy, but flavorful. The thin round of roasted loin had a very, very delicate flavor--it was set on a thick round slab of eggplant that was underseasoned, undercooked and crunchy. I tried a couple of small bites of the eggplant and gave up on it. The sauce was braising liquid reduced to the consistency of apple butter--I would have preferred a thinner sauce, but it was very flavorful. The aglianico was a good choice, we detected complex notes of dusty cherry, wet asphalt and a hint of leather in the glass, and some grippy tannins that softened with some air.

The place was packed with high-energy diners on a Monday night, so there were prolonged waits between courses, but the service was attentive. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was dining with friends at the table next to us. That makes two Supremes--we were next table from Elena Kagan at Poste, just before she was confirmed. Sonya Sotomayor's next, I hope.

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The black spaghetti with crab and chili was superb. From working at BlackSalt, I remember that the way it can be with crabmeat is that some days it will be delivered and have very little flavor, and other days the flavor will be all that you look for. Fortunately for us, it was a good day for crabmeat.

Probably due to a bad habit of eating too many meals in restaurants, I'd totally forgotten I'd been to Bibiana a few months ago (and posted on it upthread) when I read Don's recent review. His elevating it above Tosca in the Dining Guide seemed kind of drastic to me. So, booked it for a business lunch earlier this week and, while I can't say based only on that whether I think it better or worse than Tosca (or G3 or Fiola for that matter), I can offer a very enthusiastic +1 on Zora's comment above. My lunch companion and I both ordered the black spag with crab because it jumped out at us from the menu and, after first bites, were silent for the first time in about 30 minutes at the table. Really good. A "pomodoro salad" starter that just had different types of fresh tomatoes, oil and seasoning was nice but would have been better with a good cheese also. Must do dinner sometime later this year.

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Bibiana does RW (lunch) right. 6-7 choices per course, not once did we feel like the restaurant was dumbing it down, phoning it in, or disinterested.

Calamari ala plancha - two whole calamari body tubes, stuffed with a potato puree with salami and a squid ink vinaigrette...two small whole tenticle pieces were also on the plate. Beautiful presentation: big round plate with the body tubes in the center (both with a lovely tanned surface from the grilling), the two tenticle pieces artfully placed around the body tubes, and then a jagged slash of squid ink painted across the plate slightly off center. I thought the dish could have used just a touch more acid in the vinaigrette to really set it off.

Pork sausage on a bed of red peppers and onion a slice of char grilled bread - straight forward but satisfying. about a 6 inch sausage, very flavorful and juicy (thought it needed a little pepper or spicyiness for some bite ala a spicy italian sausage, but other wise good).

sampled the risotto which was very good. The salad of beets and blackberries was another beautiful plating and the plancha seared mackerel was reported to be good.

Desserts of peach semifreddo, tiramisu, panna cotta were satisfying but not particularly standoutish.

definitely a deal for $20.

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For starters we had the Barbebietola (very good), chestnut soup (very good), and uovo (sounded interesting on menu, perfectly cooked egg, but tasted bland and flavors didn't come together). For mains we had Spaghetti Al Nero Di Seppia (good, but not as transporting as some have said, which supports previous observations that this dish is prone to inconsistency), Risotto (excellent flavor, but rice was just a bit off al dente), & Grigliata Mista (tasty, with all components equally done properly -- sometimes a risk w/ mixed grills, portion a bit smallish). One dish, Branzino, was botched (preparation was changed from what was on menu, but waiter didn't know/say), but was replaced with another dish as quickly as was possible under the circumstances. Overall, the food was good, but was a bit of a letdown. It was competent Italian food, but not as good as the better Italian places in town. Perhaps my expectations got a bit too elevated based on reviews and buzz about the chef. Service was polished and decor sharp, but was too noisy for me -- we were shouting to be heard by our dining guests (when the staff leans toward the patron's ear in order to be heard, that should be sign to management).

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I posted this in ChowHound almost a year ago, but I just got a note saying they are getting rid of all their reviews. Strange.

Anyhow, I didn't want all my brilliant thoughts, and all that typing to be lost to the ether :) , so here it is:

Bibiana 3-30-11

For my wife’s birthday I wanted to do something different and I’ve been reading a lot of Anthony Bourdain lately and he always seems to be able to walk into a place a have the chef serve whatever is fresh, or his personal favorite, or some type of special off-the-menu items. I didn’t know if a normal person could do that so I asked about it in here and was advised to call the restaurant and ask, so I did.

When I called to ask about it, I spoke to Francesco, the sommelier, and he told me they could do whatever I’d like and to ask for him when we got there. He said they could do a meal from 2 to 2000 courses; it was all up to me. Too easy.

Right after we were seated, Francesco came over and asked if there was any item we didn't want to eat. Peppers (sweet ones) don't agree with my wife so that was our only restriction. It was also just about the only input we had in the meal. He asked if we wanted wine and of course the answer was YES, and I asked about wine pairings. He actually suggested we just get a bottle because he felt the pairing would be too much wine. When does a restaurant convince you to buy *less* of something from them?!?!? I thought that was really cool and unexpected and left us with a very good taste in our mouths. It seemed to say, "just trust me, I've got your back."

A minute or two later, Francesco, returned with two glasses of champagne as his gift to us for my wife's birthday. No charge!

The first course was Carciofi Alla Guidia, which was fried artichokes. This was the only thing we requested (based on reviews in Chowhound) and I’m glad we did. The artichokes were fried, possibly deep fried, but they didn’t have any breading or batter on them. They were just crispy, crunchy artichokes, but they were really different and really good. Strangely, the best part of the dish, or the most surprising part was the little bits of fried parsley that was like a garnish. The parsley was also crispy and crunchy but still had that distinctive parsley taste. It was almost like eating tiny potato chips that were parsley flavored. I’d get this dish again just for the parsley!

The second course was mozzarella (I think) cheese and beets. It was something I never would have ordered and I was so glad that I left the ordering up to someone else because this dish was another winner. When Francesco delivered the plates he said he picked up the cheese today from Dulles airport and that it was just flown in from Italy. This seemed strange because to me, mozzarella was just something you put on pizza or maybe had with a slice of tomato. Well, this mozzarella was a completely different animal from anything that I’d ever seen. The plate had three little chunks of different colored beets that were (maybe) pickled on one side and a blob of cheese on the other. The blob of mozzarella looked like a soft boiled egg, complete with ground pepper on top. The most amazing thing was that the cheese *acted* like a soft boiled egg too. It was creamy and liquidy in the middle and it flowed out when you cut the outer layer. I don’t know if this a common way to serve this cheese, but I’ve never had it and it blew me away. It was such a weird surprise and very good too.

The third course was the pasta course and it was some sort of homemade linguini but it was two or three times as thick as normal. It also had some sort of spice infused/injected/inserted into the pasta. It was cooked very al dente and was really good. Very hearty. It was served with a hunk or two of lobster which was also great. I couldn’t find this dish on the online menu, and I don’t know if it’s on their regular menu since we never saw one, but it should be! This dish also had those amazing little bits of fried parsley.

The forth course was halibut over some vegetables. I honestly don’t remember what they were. Sorry. They were some sort of pickled thing I think. Whatever they were, they were very good as was the fish. Light and moist. This is another dish that I can’t find on the menu (the online menu).

The fifth course was my favorite of the night and this one is on the menu. It’s called 'Ossobuco Milanese' and it was veal cheek on a bed of mushrooms and risotto. The veal almost had the consistency of pudding and by that I mean it was so tender that you almost didn’t have to chew it. It practically turned to liquid in my mouth. It was amazing and I could have easily eaten 3 or 4 more. Looking back at the online menu, this was another dish I probably wouldn’t have ordered. I probably would have picked the lamb, but again, it was much better that I left the ordering up to someone else because this dish was killer.

Next came the dessert and a special (extra) dessert for my wife for her birthday. Both were great.

The real shocker was when the bill came. There were only three lines on it. One for wine and two for “Open Hot Food” which was code for our tasting meal. The price per meal was only $72. I tried to calculate what it would have cost based on similar items on the menu and I ended with something about $20 more per meal! This seemed like a great bargain to me and (again) the best part was we didn’t have do anything other than enjoy. No thinking, no agonizing over menu choices, just sitting back and waiting for the next surprise to come.

If you’re up for a great meal and a little bit of an adventure, call Bibiana, ask for Francesco and leave it all up to him. We had a wonderful meal, a different experience and a great night. To quote Homer Simpson, this meal was “seven thumbs up!”

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This post has been a long time in coming. Bibiana is my favorite restaurant in the DC Metro area. My husband and I have been following Chef Stefanelli's career since he was at Maestro. We are so pleased that he has found his own niche in Bibiana.

The staff are all very welcoming and take very good care of all of their diners. Everyone is committed to ensuring happy dining experiences.

My own experience with the food is limited by my gluten intolerance, but my favorites dishes (as in you should definitely try them) include the fried artichokes, hay-smoked sweetbreads, and the seafood mixed grill. They have all been consistently wonderful. Braised veal dishes, lamb dishes, and fish have all been wonderful. Salads can be a revelation here. The sea scallops are to die for!

Last night we had the medjool dates stuffed with foie gras for the first time, and they were delicious. We also loved the yellow-fin tuna carpaccio with its dollops of cream and baby celery and lemon.

Chef has created a menu that is easily adaptable to the seasons. Many basic items remain, with their accompaniments changing seasonally. Others change totally from one season to the next. I can't list every dish we have had and loved at Bibiana, but there have been many.

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Just had a nice early dinner here, and am delighted that Bibiana is just as good as I had hoped it to be. I was in Italy a little over a week ago, and Bibiana definitely has food that's of the same quality as I found in various well-known, reputable eating establishments in Rome and Venice. The fried artichoke isn't prepared exactly as the Romans do, but the flavors are there. Falling a bit short of the extra crispy-almost-burnt outer artichoke leaves as you would find in Rome, but the tenderness of the artichoke heart and the hint of lemon is there and satisfies my craving. Not greasy, either. Fried just right.

The 45-minute hen egg in asparagus purée was good and comforting if you love asparagus. The egg yolk adds the perfect creaminess and fat to the asparagus. Good depth of flavor, not just "Oh, it's asparagus...Blah". Not sure what else I can say about it!

My dining partner and I also had another antipasto made from "pig trotters" with celery root purée and fried asparagus (don't remember the name, not on the website menu), which was also perfectly executed. Here, the various textures made the dish so much more interesting. The pork was ground and formed into a crisp, pan-fried patty. You could taste chunks of the skin and fat throughout along with the slight crunch from the pan-frying. Then the purée and sauce that came with it, and the meat was perfectly salted, almost to the point where you think, "Hmm...this might be a little too much salt.", but not QUITE to that point, so all it did was basically bring out the flavor of the pork and fat as much as possible.

For primi, I got the black spaghetti with Louisiana crab meat, and it was delicious. Pasta perfectly cooked, slight hint of the sea. There was actually a lot more crab than I had expected, and it amped up that lovely "from the sea" flavor of the dish. Great example of letting a couple of simple flavors shine. My dining partner got the ravioli filled with veal and with a sauce flavored with pancetta (forgot the name on the menu, not online), which was a little more complicated, flavor-wise. The pancetta didn't overpower the veal, and the veal didn't overpower the pasta it was encased in. You could taste each component, and they all melded wonderfully on the tongue.

For dessert, I got the coconut semifreddo. It was still a little too hard from having just come out of the freezer, but I love anything coconut, and this did not disappoint. Creamy, but not decadent. It was on a bed of grapefruit, which made it even more refreshing. THe other dessert was the panna cotta, which came with candied citrus fruits and a blood orange foam on top. Fresh fresh fresh, light and airy, but there was a lot of it, so no one could finish the whole thing, even though both of us wanted to. Both of us also agreed that the semifreddo was the better dessert, but they are also two completely different "dessert goals", if that makes any sense. Hard to compare since they are so different.

I went in expecting the food to be of lesser quality than what I found in my very short time in Rome and Venice, maybe even a little more pretentious and overbearing, and it ended up being equal in quality, if not in the ingredients used (meaning stuff like jumbo lump crab meat probably wouldn't be used in Italy, as opposed to it being plentiful here). The chef knows how to focus on the right flavors and which ones go together, though. Pretty much what simple Italian fare is all about, and I was pleasantly surprised.

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My husband and I had a fantastic meal at Bibiana recently. We used to like Luigino’s but had not been back since the new restaurant took over the space. We shouldn’t have waited so long.

We started with a small plate of Salumi ($15) with Prosciutto di Parma, Sopressata, and incredible housemade Mortadella. This, plus the wonderful bread from the basket, got me started on filling up. I don’t know that ordering the salumi was the best move from the “pacing myself so I don’t explode” standpoint, but that mortadella was not to be missed.

We also shared three other antipasti and small plates: Scarola ($10) Escarole, Arugula and Fennel Salad, Red Onions, Orange, Ricotta Salata; Polpette ($11) Veal & Pork Meatball Braised in a Tomato Sauce, White Polenta, Gremolada; and Provola ($6) Fried Smoked Mozzarella, Anchovy Dipping Cream.

All of these were wonderful, and splitting them worked out great. I can’t even pick a favorite of the three. The scarola was a perfect (near) starter to a meal, not too bitter but just right. The meatball was big enough to split in half and quite satisfying. I loved the cheese and anchovy cream. We each got just enough of the three pieces of cheese to explore the flavors and textures.

For a main course, my husband got the Branzino ($28) Whole Roasted Mediterranean Sea Bass, Potato, Cerignola Olives, Sea Bean Salad, Tomatoes, while I got the Cannelloni ($20) Sicilian Style Braised Beef Cannelloni, Cacio Cavallo, Red Wine Sauce. I was immediately struck by the presentation of the cannelloni. The red wine sauce was striped across the top so that it almost looked liked bacon. It was gorgeous. The filling was delightfully beefy -- utter beefy beefiness -- but I couldn’t eat much (see “pacing myself so I don’t explode”). My lucky husband ate the leftovers the next evening.

This was a wonderful meal.

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A few friends and I went to Bibiana last night, and we came away a bit underwhelmed. Nothing was bad exactly, but we just weren't wowed for the price.

The bread basket was quite generous and provided some lovely focaccia, alongside some blander Italian bread. The olive oil available at the table was delicious though.

To start we shared a burrata and a stuffed calamari, neither of which appear to be on the current online menu (I think the burrata we had is a different preparation than what is currently listed, and the calamari isn't on there at all). The burrata was as smooth and creamy as usual, but needed a bit of a punch of flavor that wasn't delivered by the accompanying tomatoes. The stuffed squid was good (full bodies stuffed with I believe pancetta and something creamy), but was not a large serving.

Three of us went with the Spaghetti ($22- Black Spaghetti, Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab, 'Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino') and one had Agnello ($28 - Duo of Border Springs Lamb, Potato Tart, Pecorino, Roasting Jus, Basil Pesto). I didn't try the lamb, so I can't comment on it, but the plate was clean at the end of the meal. I think the three of us liked our spaghetti, but weren't as wowed with it as we thought we might be after reading some superlative reviews from TS and others. I really liked the pepper and olive oil flavors, which reminded me of some awesome aglio, olio, e peperoncino preparations I had in Italy, but I did not get a lot of seafood flavor from either the crab or the spaghetti. I tasted mostly starchy pasta and spicy olive oil.

For dessert we split Crespelle ($10 - Crepes Rolled with Chocolate Cream Inside a Crisp Chocolate Tuile, Candied Walnuts, Walnut Gelato), and I was not a huge fan. The texture was odd, and it wasn't all that chocolatey tasting.

It was a lovely dining room, and the service was fine, although a bit slow. Nothing about our food was off or incorrect, but I don't think any of us plan to rush back.

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Revisited Bibiana last night. I finally tried the Carciofi alla Giudia - fried artichokes. So these artichokes were dropped without batter into a deep fryer and served with some salt and fried parsley. It was decent but kind of uninteresting. My primo was the Nero di Seppia - squid ink pasta with crab meat. The past texture was perfectly chewy, the sliced red peppers gave it a nice taste of heat, but the crab-meat was flavorless - what can you do? My secondi was the Grigliata Mista - grilled mixed seafood. It looked beautiful but let's break it down seafood by seafood. The two shrimps were nicely grilled - no fault. A large piece of squid was slightly translucent, but the other pieces were perfectly cooked. The fish - not sure what kind (possibly tuna, it was white and cooked all the way through) - might've been better if cut thicker and seared without cooking all the way through. The octopus was a bit of a mess - had a mealy texture that wasn't really appetizing. Can't wait to go to Sicily...

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Lunch at the Bar - not a bad deal. $17 for choice of pasta, wine or soda and sorbet.

http://www.bibianadc.com/dinner-menu/lunch-at-the-bar/

I highly enjoyed the Miller's Wife maccheroni, ramps, spicy tomato sauce, and pecorino today, with a Gazzosa sparkling lemon , and strawberry sorbet. In and out in less than an hour. Well cooked pasta. Nice blend of spices in the sauce with some red and yellow cherry tomatoes. None of which landed on my dress shirt, I am happy to report. And the ramps. Don't forget the ramps. The best part - no reservations required at the bar and the place was packed by the time we left around 1:00pm.

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Headed here tomorrow (for the first time).  I'm guessing it wouldn't be a great idea to order the black spaghetti with crab meat during crab's off-season? Normally I wouldn't order crab this late in the year, but so many people said this dish was wonderful that I would like to try it.  Probably I should save it for a spring/summer visit.

If not, I'll probably get one of the ricotta pastas, along with "Roasted Mushroom Salad, Fried Bread, Fontina, Matsutake" antipasto, yum.  Or just make a meal of starters, with the mushrooms, the Carciofi all Giudia that I've never had and really ought to (since I'm Jewish married to an Italian, I should try the best known Italian-Jewish dish), and maybe roasted figs and arancini.

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