100 Very Best Restaurants 2013: Bibiana

Chef Nick Stefanelli's hay-smoked sweet breads at Bibiana Restaurant. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

It’s got the look of a mover-and-shaker: sculptural
chandeliers, a stylish crowd, a floating chain-mail wall. But Ashok
Bajaj’s modern Italian dining room has a rustic soul. Chef Nick
Stefanelli, who has worked under Roberto Donna and Fabio Trabocchi, is at
his best reinterpreting robust plates with his own elegant spin. Pastas
are hand-rolled and delicate, and desserts are surprisingly inventive
while still thoroughly Italian. Being able to order wines by the glass,
quartino, or half and full carafes is a generous touch. If you’ve never
indulged in Amaro, the bitter Italian digestif made from herbs, roots, and
citrus peel, among other things, this is the place to try one. Our
favorites: Ramazzotti, with hints of caramel and anise, and Meletti,
redolent of violets and saffron.

Don’t miss: Fried
artichokes; meatballs with polenta; salumi; lasagna Bolognese;
Prosecco zabaglione with passionfruit-fig sorbet; chocolate-almond
semifreddo and flourless chocolate cake.

Open: Monday
through Friday for lunch and dinner, Saturday for dinner. Expensive.

100 Very Best Restaurants 2013

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.