I first reviewed Bibiana in 2010, shortly after the Washington, D.C. restaurant made Esquire Magazine’s list of 20 Best New Restaurants. Being named one of the hottest restaurants in the country meant that the crowds descended and we had to wait longer than we had hoped to be seated, even with a reservation. What didn’t disappoint, however, was the food and the service. Both were excellent. Eight years later, Bibiana remains one of our favorite places to dine.
Make no mistake. In today’s competitive restaurant environment, it takes a lot to maintain consistency. Too often, a dining establishment will land on a “best” list only to find itself getting a no-star review a year later. Complacency may settle in and business as usual delivers menus that are stale, food that misses the mark, and service that lags.
When Bibiana opened, Nicholas Stefanelli was the chef. He is now the chef and owner of Masseria, another hot restaurant in the nation’s capital. The current chef, Loris Navone, has an impressive resume, having grown up in Switzerland and Italy, graduated from the Culinary Institute IRFoP in Trieste, Italy, and worked in many top restaurants in Italy, Singapore, Monte Carlo, and Miami. He has certainly made his mark at Bibiana, part of Ashok Bajaj’s Knightsbridge Restaurant Group.
On a recent visit we were reminded why we keep returning to Bibiana. Everything was perfect. The dining room remains an elegant place to dine as well as one that provides comfortable seating with tables far enough apart to allow quiet conversations. Service was impeccable. Our server, Parwiz, made excellent suggestions, not only for the food but for the wines. Chef Navone wisely includes seasonal options on the menu and we enjoyed one, mezzaluna pasta filled with pumpkin and served in a cheese sauce. Our appetizer, barbabietole, baby gold, red, and candy stripe beets with walnuts, goat cheese, citrus dressing, and orange slices, looked too good to eat, but we managed.
Main courses included a grilled branzino with a lovely creamy sauce and tender artichoke hearts and venison perfectly cooked with small mushrooms. For dessert we opted for a cheese plate with fruit and a warm raisin studded muffin.
Our waiter treated us with after dinner drinks of a strawberry liqueur. Finally, espresso.
Small things make a difference. The previous evening we had dined at a restaurant in Alexandria where the food was wonderful the service awful. (The evening began with a ceiling air conditioner vent dripping on us and the manager telling us nothing could be done. We changed tables but things went downhill from there.) In contrast, Bibiana excelled on all levels. One reason we’ll be back again soon.
1100 New York Avenue, NW