Bibiana Osteria Enoteca
Besides showcasing its political savvy, Washington, DC has turned itself into a gastronomic wonderland, with a diverse assortment of cuisines beckoning patrons. But most DC foodies would agree that the downtown Italian classic, Bibiana Osteria Enoteca is the go-to place for its unique menu, cocktails, and wine list. How many places serve an appetizer of hot, crispy sliced fried baby artichokes accented with mint and grated Pecorino Romano?
But that is only a peek at the menu, and the hungry patron is left with the question: what else to include? The appetizer burrata of creamy mozzarella and balsamic Cipollini and the heirloom tomato salad (in season) with country bread are two perfect add-ons.
And as patrons enjoy such first-course offerings, they should consider sipping one of the restaurant’s special handcrafted cocktails. Plus, patrons are well advised to ask wait staff for tips on the choice Italian wine to accompany their main course selections. How about a special Barolo wine to accompany the crispy duck leg confit, or any other hearty, meaty entrée?
As with any top-notch Italian eatery, pasta selections are ranked as second-course items, though eating a huge portion of fresh pasta—pappardelle with duck confit or tagliatelle with a traditional Bolognese sauce—are very tempting. It’s at this point that patrons must mentally weigh what to do next, as pastas and the meat-based entrées are just as beckoning.
The grilled tuna steak, cooked just enough to crisp the exterior while keeping the middle pink and the cioppino, the spicy seafood stew with bass, prawns, calamari, and assorted shellfish could take over the first place. But that means bypassing the roasted chicken breast with Tuscan corona beans and roasted apricots, to say nothing of missing out on the pizzas.
Five pizza choices fill their part of the menu, but the must-have (for patrons who love a bit of the bite in its food) is the Piccante, topped with soppressata, mozzarella, spicy honey, and pepperoncini. For tamer palates, of course, the straightforward pizza classic, the Margherita, features mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.
That brings patrons down to the dessert choices and all should be sure to save some appetite for one or several of the selections that include the Albicocca, a rendition of the Ligurian olive oil cake with poached black velvet (seasonal) apricots and zabaglione, the traditional Italian egg- and sugar-based cream sauce used to perfect desserts.
Other choices include a chocolate mousse cake, a white chocolate bombe, and panna cotta, a rich custard that is another Italian classic. Whichever the choice, ask waitstaff about the diverse Amari, or Italian after-dinner herbal digestifs. The selection is quite intriguing, and must delight all Italian food mavens.
Beyond its well-balanced menu, Bibiana offers patrons many other elements of restaurant success: an inviting and elegant setting, with two separate dining areas, a closed-off section for private parties, and an up-front cocktail bar for those who don’t need a table but are happy to chat with the bartender and to peek through the bar area into the kitchen. Indeed, its host and waitstaff are especially helpful, and will step up to offer advice and table service at a moment’s notice.In the end, the “why” of dining at
Bibiana can be wrapped up in several words: top-notch food and courteous service. What more can any food buff hanker for?
For more Washington DC dining and travel news, click here. Alexandra Greeley is the D.C. Restaurant Editor and a food writer for The Daily Meal.