Bibiana Osteria Enoteca

bibiana figs

Bibiana Osteria Enoteca is a new Italian restaurant in downtown D.C., owned by Ashok Bajaj of Rasika, Bombay Club, Ardeo and others. I’m always on the lookout for fabulous Italian food, so I was pretty excited to give this place a try. Happily, my friends were equally enthused, and so we breezed in for dinner on the Friday before last, eager and hungry.

I linked the website above, but don’t even bother clicking – they’re so new that there’s nothing on the site as yet. Of course, this meant going in blind, with only a few hints from early bloggers to guide us on what to expect from the menu. But maybe a little spontaneity is a good thing. (^__^)

The restaurant itself is divided up into essentially three sections. There’s a bar/lounge area that greets you immediately from the door. Then there are two dining areas, one on each side of the bar. The dining rooms are pretty isolated from one another, so I didn’t even know there was another area until the end of the night, as I was leaving. This actually makes the restaurant feel very smallish and cozy, which I liked.

Enough with the decor. On to the food!

There were four of us, and we all got two appetizers, one main course (or pasta) and a dessert, so it kept me quite busy snapping away at the food. Pictured above is an appetizer from the “piatti piccoli” course, the “fichi”: black figs, ricotta salata and almond silvers. Actually, this dish unites the two ingredients that kept popping up in many of the dishes: figs and almonds. I don’t even like figs that much, but these were delicious! (*___*) I would even order them for myself.

The food festa continues below!:


bibiana rice fritters

Arancini
saffron rice fritters, parmigiano

Crispy crust on the outside, cheesy gooey risotto on the inside. Loved the layers of texture in this one. I don’t like risotto, except when it’s fried up like this.

bibiana chicken liver

Crostini di pollo
chicken liver, red onion marmalade

I have to admit, the idea of poultry liver (pate, foie gras) never appealed to me, though I know it’s a delicacy. Maybe that makes me a failure as a foodie?? I would never have ordered this dish, but my friend is an avid chicken liver eater, and so I ventured a bite since it was offered. Loved it! How could liver of chicken taste this good? I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that fabulous onion marmalade had something to do with it. (Actually, it was quite good on its own as well). Goes to show: don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.

bibiana squash blossoms

These fried squash blossoms were from the specials menu. I almost always order squash blossoms if they’re available, so naturally I had to get these. Mmm…fried up to perfection. They were so delicate and fabulous.

bibiana cod  fritters

Baccala
salted cod fritters, pil-pil

Looks just like the rice fritters, but these were made with cod, and “pil pil” – which, according to about.com, is a kind of fish and garlic sauce. I believe the foodie word for cod fritter is “brandade.” XD I actually would have preferred a little more texture in my cod, but I don’t think this was any failure in execution. And the flavors were spot on.

bibiana tomato mozz

Burrata d’andria
pugliese mozzarella, tomato, basil

This kind of mozz is definitely the best! Caprese might be overdone, but not when it’s made with the creamy and delicious burrata mozzarella.

bibiana beets

Barbabietola
salad of beets, blu di moncenisio, saba, almonds

Colorful & gorgeous! Love the presentation. Beets might be my new salad of choice. This one was quite lovely, though I only had a small bite of it. Maybe I didn’t get a solid impression of this one, so the beet salad at Vinoteca remains superior in my memory.

bibiana egg pizza

L’uovo
egg pizza, fonduta, lardo

I admit, I was pretty dubious about this dish at first. Egg and pizza just didn’t sound like they went together! Although, breakfast pizzas are not unheard of, apparently. I was once again finding myself pleasantly surprised. The crust! The crust of this pizza was amazing, doughy soft but perfectly baked. Lardo, by the way, is a kind of fatty cured bacon, which is as rich as it sounds.

(I’m going to add here that despite the fabulously done egg pizza from dinner, I was later sorely disappointed by their parma pizza that I had for lunch the following week. Crust was way too hard and overdone. What happened, Bibiana? (;____;))

bibiana lamb ravioli

On to the main course! This was my entree, the lamb ravioli. It was also on the specials menu, and I picked it because I was wavering between getting a housemade pasta dish or the lamb entree. This seemed to be the ideal marriage of the two. (There are the almonds again, as you see). I’m not sure I really liked this dish, although I enjoyed what I had at the restaurant. I took most of it home because I wanted to leave room for dessert. I tried to have the warmed up leftovers the following day, but found it too salty for my taste. And to boot, the texture of the lamb bothered me a little.

bibiana bucatini

Bucatini
guanciale, red onion, red chili, pecorino

The only hard pasta dish of the menu. The bucatini pasta is like spaghetti, except there’s a hole through the pasta, like very long and narrow macaroni. I don’t have much recollection of this dish, though it must have tasted good, since there were no complaints. Except maybe that the portion was a little on the small side.

bibiana squid ink pasta

Spaghetti al nero di seppia
black spaghetti, blue crab, algio, olio e peperoncino

Wow, this was spicy! But very good indeed. And here’s another thing I’ve always been too scared to try: squid ink pasta. I did like it, yes. A night of many firsts.

bibiana duck

Anatra
roasted muscovy duck breast, grilled peaches, celery root

Oh my god, this is the dinner that never ends. My fingers are about to fall off from typing, and I still haven’t gotten to dessert. Last entree, the duck. (*___*) Just had a bite. Loved it. Great with the peaches.

Now for dessert, at last! A course I was particularly looking forward to, since the pastry chef is the same one that used to work at Central. This time, able to dish out some of his own recipes.

bibiana panna cotta

Vanilla panna cotta
with liquid peach sweet Tuscan soil and fresh macerated peaches

Liquid what? Not sure if that’s a typo on the menu… Anyway, the panna cotta was one of the desserts that our lovely and attentive waiter particularly endorsed, and for good reason. It was wonderful. The “soil” is the name the pastry chef gave the graham (or cookie?) crumb topping, which went very well indeed with the creamy and velvety panna cotta.

bibiana strawberry

Strawberry mascarpone semifreddo
with candied strawberries and cream

Ooooo. This was like frozen strawberry cheese cake! I really wasn’t sure what to expect from “semifreddo” – which apparently encompasses any number of frozen desserts. I was pleased with this, though. ♥

bibiana cheesecake

Robiolita cheesecake
cow’s milk cheesecake on an almond cake with port wine,
saba reduction and a confit fig

Definitely of the non-frozen variety, this was the softest, creamiest cheesecake ever. And look, more figs!

bibiana ricotta fritter

Ricotta fritters
with green cardamom sugar

My favorite of the desserts, and yet I was too full to finish even one! Sad. These were fluffy, sugary and perfect, like heavenly doughnuts. They were – as Wolfgang Puck would say – “like a cloud~”

And what a perfect place to end. Can’t wait to go back and do it all over again!

Hey !<3 This is sonowakaremichi from LJ~ I DO follow your food blog (RSS feeds are wonderful things) but I've never commented yet. |D

But I had to comment this time. ITALIAN FOOD, one of my greatest weaknesses! In fact, I had some Italian food just last night. (yummy seafood spaghetti and arancini!)

Such pretty pictures; I'm not a fan of beets, but I really like the picture of the beet salad! Also, that strawberry cake… *floats away with a rumbling tummy*

Thanks for sharing! <3

I can’t believe you went back for lunch! Granted, it was an awesome place….I still have the L’uovo on my mind….yummm.

Such sophisticated food!! And the desserts look incredible! :9

You know, over here we eat chicken liver a lot, in soup, in rice…

I saw Mokona’s comment, but I wonder how to make a feed of this blog. ^^;; Be awed by my blogging failure.
Anyway, I have you bookmarked and I check frequently this place. XD;;

Oh, that all looks absolutely delicious, even the stuff I’d normally be all, >.< about.

 

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