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Reservations Recommended

Restaurant Review ~ Bibiana / 1100 New York Ave., NW

New Chef: New Menu

Under the keen eye and steady hand of recently appointed executive chef Jake Addeo, Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca takes on a new and vibrant Italian identity Trained at the Culinary Institute of America and at the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners in Piemonte, Italy, he then worked in Italy for nearly three years for various top Italian restaurants, including Due Spada in Milan.

Despite his intensive Italian culinary training, Addeo actually comes by his passion for Italian food naturally: his parents moved to New York from Puglia before he was born. So it makes great sense that upon his return to New York from Italy, he continued to cook for various high-end Manhattan Italian restaurants, even working for acclaimed Italian chefs Mario Batali, Fortunato Nicotra and Lidia Bastianich.

Probably the most unexpected turn in his star-studded career was moving to Hong Kong, where among other positions, he worked for three years as executive chef and partner in Trattoria Doppio Zero. How did that affect his career? It shaped him into a solidly talented chef who can take classic flavors and techniques and produce sparkling appetizers and entrées that earn repeat visits.

Perhaps the most unique starter is the carpaccio, an artful plate of paper-thin octopus slices (where did he learn this technique?) that are almost transparent. Yet the seafood flavor remains, even if much of the flesh does not. The four slices are accented by a gaeta olive aioli and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts.

To that add the burrata, the milk-fresh mozzarella that is Italy’s primo cheese. The menu does not indicate whether this is made in house, but regardless, it soothes the palate and pairs well with octopus. Be sure to indulge yourself, too, with slices of the warm, freshly baked bread. Spread on the burrata, or just plain enjoy the bread as is.

Following the traditional Italian meal format, order an intermediate pasta course and the selections here are amazing! Imagine biting into a ravioli filled with puréed beets mixed with Gorgonzola cheese — quite a revelation, the sweet vs. the salty. But the best of the lot may well be the chef’s imaginative and filling tortellini with a mixture of pork and lamb, and moistening all with brown butter. Rich, yes, but totally worth every calorie.

Main course choices include assorted seafood dishes, including a Sicilian-style seafood stew and dry-aged duck breast. But the chef produces a scallop dish of seared diver scallops sparked by a horseradish bite. Paired with the milk-braised suckling pig served with tiny lentils — assuming that at least two of you are dining here — you will have found gastronomic heaven.

Your meal has ended, you think. You have followed all the rules, even getting wine suggestions from the wine director, but you suddenly realize that, calories notwithstanding, you absolutely must enjoy one of pastry chef Jemil Gadea’s unique creations. Certainly delectable is the unusual olive oil cake but the latte gelato “drowned” in espresso is a unique take on coffee with dessert.

Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca / Mon.-Thu. 11:30am-10pm, Fri. to 11pm, Sat. 5:30-11pm; closed Sun. 202-216-9550; www.bibianadc.com.

Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.