Young and Hungry

Owner: Bibiana Osteria Will NOT be a Pizza Joint

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Bibiana Osteria and Enoteca, the latest entrant in the area's escalating Italian Restaurant Wars, will indeed serve pizza, just like a number of other combatants in this wide-scale skirmish, including Potenza, Ristorante Posto, and Kora. But owner Ashok Bajaj doesn't want pies to define his new place at 1100 New York Ave. NW, which will have its soft opening on Monday, Sept. 7.

Y&H spoke with Bajaj yesterday, and he told me that chef Nicholas Stefanelli's offerings will be purely regional Italian, none of this Italian-American silliness that creeps into some menus around town. The pastas, the owner added, would be made in-house, with prices ranging from around $14 to $20. Pizza will also be available, he said, but only at lunch and only at the lounge during dinner service.

So why downplay the pie?

Bajaj indicated that it's a matter of principle. He was envisioning Bibiana well before downtown D.C. became a competitive mecca for Italian dining — well before Potenza, Posto, and Siroc open their doors or even before Enzo Fargione transformed Teatro Goldoni into a mandatory destination. The owner has invested a ton of money into the project, both for talent and for the "high-style Milano design" of the restaurant itself, just to make sure Bibiana fits the Ashok Bajaj profile: an elegant downtown spot that can appeal to the fat cats and the alley cats (read: cash-strapped youth) alike.

"I don't want it to be known as a pizza joint," Bajaj said.

  • Bert Covey

    Calling downtown DC a "mecca" for Italian dining is like calling Thompson Boat Center the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/youngandhungry Tim Carman

    Bert,

    Well, I wasn't using the term in the religious pilgrimage/ecstasy terms you imply, but more in the lowercase mecca as defined by Websters: "a place regarded as a center for a specified group, activity or interest." If you want Italian food in D.C. these days, where do you turn? Downtown would be one of the two main locations. Dupont, too, with Obelisk, Al Tiramisu, and Paradiso. Though I will add this: Teatro Goldoni is as close to an uppercase Mecca as downtown D.C. gets these days.

  • Rob

    Just wondering if that quote about Italian-American silliness was a direct quote from Bajaj. If so what exactly does that mean? That Italian-American cuisine is silly?

  • Tim Carman

    Not a direct quote, Rob. Just my editorial license, probably carried too far. I doubt Bajaj could call Italian-American cuisine silly. That's not his style.

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