How far will you go for great chicken parmigiana?
My friends from Minneapolis were overwhelmingly skeptical about visiting Eagan’s newest restaurant, Bibo, and their misgivings increased the farther south of the river we drove. “It might be worth it,” I assured them. “It’s the new restaurant by the Marchionda family, the folks behind Buon Giorno Italia, Osteria I Nonni, and all that great Italian food in Lilydale.”
Their skepticism vanished as the food arrived: Bibo is lovely, and would be popular as free parking were it in Uptown.
The Marchiondas, and Osteria chef Filipo Caffari, have kept all the strengths from both Osteria I Nonni and Buon Giorno. The excellent light and tender calamari; the beef carpaccio, which unites berry-red beef, tangy real Parmigiano-Reggiano, and fresh micro-arugula into a complex delight; the world-class wine list that promotes gems from both well-known and obscure Italian regions; the cannoli, with its sweet, rich cheese filling and shatteringly crisp shell. To these considerable strengths, the Marchiondas have added some new joys, such as light-as-a-feather pizzas topped with pristinely sourced ingredients (like winy, sweet, thinly sliced prosciutto), and also expertly executed Italian-American classics. My two favorites were a version of simple garlic-and-rosemary-braised short ribs, so comforting and phenomenally tender that you could eat it with a spoon, and a chicken parmigiana that will now, in my mind, be our regional standard bearer: It was exactly right in every dimension, with a big portion of terrifically crisp chicken graced with a ladle full of sweet, zesty red sauce, the whole thing completed with fresh mozzarella that is sweet and fulfilling in that way only that fresh mozzarella can be.
Feeling doubtful? I understand. But just know I don’t say this lightly: If you are someone who would drive across town for chicken parmigiana, Bibo has the first chicken parmigiana in the history of the Twin Cities that I can say is worth the drive from Uptown to Eagan.