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.