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Washington DC & Baltimore Dinner

Osteria and Enoteca Bibiana -- bday dinner report


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Restaurants & Bars Washington DC & Baltimore Dinner

Osteria and Enoteca Bibiana -- bday dinner report

Food Fiend | | Sep 7, 2009 09:34 PM

We went to Osteria Bibiana tonight for a birthday dinner (just the two of us), and it was wonderful. Creative, but well grounded in true Italian cooking. When I let drop that if was my bf's b-day, the waiter came our with a beautifully plated special dessert with a chocolate sauce "Happy Birthday" message adorning the top. Service, especially considering they're still in a soft opening, was excellent, too. (Kudos to our server from Campania!) Great wine list, including numerous selections by the glass/quartino/half-liter, which allows you to judiciously sample more! (Living up to the "enoteca" in its name.) We're visitors from the SF Bay area, but we travel in grand part to eat, and I'd be happy to go back to Bibiana. In fact, we ate so much this first time, I'm a bit embarrassed! We started with specialty cocktails ($12 ea): a Nicoletta (Hanger 1 Buddha Hand, Pinot Grigio and....I'm missing an essential ingredient or two), and a Maddalena (Vodka, Campari, Vermouth, Prosecco), both fine libations. I was pleased to see that there were enough interesting food choices that we torn among them. Eventually, BF started w/Vitello Tonnato ($12), which was prepared in a way much superior to the traditional slathering of the creamy tuna sauce on the thinly sliced veal; here, you could distinguish clearly the flavors of the veal, the tuna (thick swirls of the sauce garnishing the top of the plate), and little dabs of a chicory sauce. My appetizer was from the small plates section, the veal polpettine ($8). I'd rather describe these as polpette, as the diameter was about that of a U.S. quarter. Tasty, as was the tomato-based sauce. Good value, with probably ~6 in a "sm. plate." Our primi (primi for us, but the portions could have been entree size had we been less indulgent) were: paccheri ($18), a particularly wide and somewhat thicker rigatoni-shaped pasta in a fairly-traditional and delightful bolognese ragu. I had the risotto with green apple and Taleggio ($19), finished (I think) w/ a drizzle of olive oil -- perfectly cooked al dente w/o crunchiness, creamy w/o soupiness. (My mother was from Northern Italy, and I'm particularly picky about risotto, and fairly picky about Italian food in general.) Our mains were guancie di vitelle (veal cheeks, $26) with some lovely wild(?) mushrooms on top of a soft polenta and, as a beautiful taste and consistency counterpoint, a sprinke of hazelnuts. BF had the branzino ($25), an entire large fish, which was expertly deboned tableside. The waiter then drizzled a green sauce (like an Italian chimichurri) over the laid-out branzino, which was accompanied by expertly cooked rapini. We shared a decadent giundiuja bomba for dessert, then each a grappa, and some good espresso and French-press coffee.