Two Italian meals in DC recently pointed up some of the differences betweeen these two new places. Both of them are really fine additions to the food scene in DC.
At Siroc we sampled three different styles of homemade noodles. They were all unfussy preparations of really good, fresh pasta. An embarrassment of riches. All the pastas were reasonably priced and the portions were quite large. Also tried out an appetizer of potato cake stuffed with cheese and covered with salt cod. The cake bust open with gooey melted cheese - it was fantastic. The salt cod didn't match with the delicacy of the potato. An entree of skate was so buttery and creamy, I almost couldn't tell where the sauce left off and the fish began. it was heavenly.
Bibiana boasts fancier decor. Surprising since it is called an osteria. This is hardly a tavern. And the prices are distinctly untavernesque. The two pastas we tried were exquisite. One was a pocket of braised veal, both savory and delicate. The other was agnolotti filled with lemon ricotta. Sheer bliss. Starter of carciofa a la romana (artichokes) was airy and crispy. Perfect. Stuffed medjool dates were even sweeter than bargained for, though. The stuffing only added to the sweetness. And the microscopic specks of pancetta (they must have used a laser) were laughable. An order of tripe tasted more like Olive Garden. It was covered in a thick tomato sauce with cheese burned on top. Could not tell at all it was tripe, but maybe that was the point. I guess this was their throwaway 'tavern' dish.
A small sampling to be sure, but when I go back to Siroc it will be for more gentle prices of fresh delightful food, and when I go back to Bibiana it will be for the ethereal stuffed pasta.