Bibiana can claim some of the best servers of any Italian restaurant in town and a room that sets itself apart with silvery lights that look like outsize Christmas bows and shimmery metal curtains that simultaneously allow diners privacy and publicity.
What Bibiana can’t always deliver is food that tastes as exciting as new chef Jake Addeo’s résumé reads: A native of Puglia, Italy, Addeo went on to cook at the admired Esca and Felidia in New York.
Sure, I could have cleaned the bowl of soft polenta made hearty with pork ragu and chickpeas on one of winter’s last days. Suckling pig served with lentils and kale chips spells comfort, too. But arancini glued to their plate with tomato sauce and crostini groaning under a spread of fava beans and ricotta are, like a number of dishes here, merely satisfying.
Portion sizes tilt American — and emphasize flaws. Meanwhile, spaghetti heaped with cherry tomatoes, rock shrimp and scallops clinging to their shells smacks of the sea — and not in a flattering way. A bracing espresso paired with almond biscotti leaves a better impression than dry pistachio cake. Can someone point me to Casa Luca , per favore?
→1100 New York Ave. NW. 202-216-9550. www.bibianadc.com.
Open: Lunch Monday through Friday, dinner Monday through Saturday.
Prices: Lunch entrees $20 to $26, dinner entrees $20 to $36.
Sound check: 71 decibels / Must speak with raised voice.