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The Bibo – Kitsilano Italian Restaurant

By Kenneth Law

Bibo

Authenticity promised as another Italian newcomer opens in Vancouver.

The BiBo (1835 West 4th Avenue) enters a cramped market of Italian restaurants in Vancouver, and makes no apologies or compromises as it boldly opened on March 16th, 2011, at the corner of West 4th and Burrard, directly across Italian heavyweight Trattoria. Bold lighting and modern décor line the interior of the establishment; a rustic, family style restaurant this is not. With so much competition in a city already known for having one of the most restaurants per capita in the world, how does another upstart hope to break into the market? By selling cultural authenticity.

At the BiBo’s launch party, one day prior to its official opening on Wednesday, co-owner Lorenzo Bottazzi prides his establishment as one that seeks out some of the purest and best Italian ingredients (even, in edgewise, remarking that sometimes local ingredients just cannot compare to those imported from Italy for their dishes). He also speaks at lengths about his family’s heritage, their existing experiences as restaurateurs in native Italy and their own pizza maker, freshly imported from Naples, and his stubborn refusal to cut pizzas to preserve the taste. According to Bottazzi, this isn’t your neighbourhood Pizza Hut pizza.

Bibo-Antipasta

This certainly is not the only restaurant in Vancouver to claim to be authentic Italian, but we let the food speak for itself. The ingredient quality is superb, even if the culinary methods aren’t always our cup of tea. Vegetables clearly tasted fresh, with rich, pungent aromas and I certainly liked that the pasta choices were not limited to Spaghetti or Linguine. Flavours did err towards the side of too much strength, as several dishes tasted noticeably saltier than I am accustomed to.

I was also pleased that the dishes they provided to us at the launch are actually on the menu, so that our comments on the food can apply to dishes that are relevant to restaurant patrons. Some highlights include:

bibo_flatbread_pizzaRigatoni Alla Norma – The pasta was done just right, very chewy and delectable and is a real highlight, especially since Rigatoni seems to be very rarely offered in restaurants. Found the sauce a tad too strong as with most flavours, but there is enough pasta to parry the strength.

BiBo Matteo – Bold, mushroom based flavors layered on top of a wide pasta known as Spracci.

Quattro Formaggi pizza – I still cannot forget how strong the blue cheese tasted on this – and being a blue cheese fan, I loved it.

The rest of the pizzas were decent enough, but I found the breading too thick and the toppings, well, too thin. There was even a chocolate pizza, which, while it had its novelty, I can’t imagine ever wanting seconds of. Perhaps I am just meant to eat “westernized” style pizzas.

Prices of these dishes are around a reasonable $16 range, and the current menu can be seen here: http://thebibo.com/menu.

With so much promise and the strength of the staff’s cultural roots, we find it difficult to imagine this establishment not sticking around for a little while at least. At the very least, there is now another option in the reasonably-priced Italian cuisine sector, as the fickle foodies of the city will attest that you can never have too many choices.

The BiBo on Urbanspoon

5 Comments

  1. Craig
    March 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm — Reply

    I was at Bibo on Tuesday March 22nd for dinner. We had red wine by the glass and decided to share Gnocchi with meat ragu and a Boccone Pizza. The Gnocchi was cooked well, but the sauce was average in regards to the flavor. The Pizza was tasty but was almost floating in oil. We had asked for extra parmesan cheese, and once we emptied the cheese from the side dish, we filled it with the oil that we drained off the pizza plate (there was that much). I have not been to Italy, and also admit I have never had a pizza experience like this.

    I mentioned to the server (Julie) that the pizza was good, but far too oily. She did not acknowledge the complaint or do anything about it. When it came time to pay the bill, another male server came to settle the bill. He asked how the meal was and I told him about the oily pizza. Behind the server, this man in pedestrian clothing (jeans and jacket) interrupted the conversation and wanted to explain to me why the pizza was so wet and oily. Having no idea who this guy was that so rudely interrupted our conversation, I told him I was not interested in what he had to say. I thought he was from the table behind us.

    The guy that interrupted my conversation then dimmed the lights – so despite the lack of professional attire, I realized he worked there. I wondered how on earth this guy could have interrupted my conversation without identifying who he was, or introducing himself. I asked out waiter who he was _ and she said he was the owner.

    I asked to speak with him. He approached the table and I told him how rude he was to speak over his employee and to interrupt our conversation without introducing himself or revealing his position. He did not really seem to care one way or the other, and seemed more satisfied by telling me that we have free speech and are entitled to our own opinions.

    I am not sure what happened to the pin striped suits that we saw at the opening, but I think they went out with the style and class

  2. Carlos
    March 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm — Reply

    Ate at the BiBo Thurs. March 24.
    They are CONSISTENT! Nobody greets you on the way in and nobody says good night on your way out.
    The food was pretty good although the pasta portions seem a little small. Gnocchi in pesto was great, the penne a la Norma just average. Had to look for the missing eggplant and it would have been much better with some smoked cheese. Maybe it’s a regional thing, but I’ve always had it with smoked mozzarella and it was always baked. At BiBo it was just tossed.
    The burrata was great but of course they don’t make it there. Still, it was delicious.
    The wine list is abysmal. 90% italian with huge gaps in the prices. A few south american wines thrown in but no B.C. wines at all. This is just disrespectful to the province in which you make your living. If the excuse is that BC doesn’t make any good wines then they need to get their heads out of their butts.
    Service was awful and slow and sloppy. Two of us were seated at a table but had just one setting. Had I not reached over to another table and grabbed another setting we would have to share one.
    After the appetizers were finished the server took the silverware off our plates and put them dirty back on the bare table. We’ll make sure to bring a second set next time.
    Servers were obviously overtaxed but the two owners were more interested in talking to their friends at the bar instead of helping out. Server forgot to bring salt and cheese when requested.
    Kitchen kept ringing the bell for the food to be picked up over and over again. You could tell by the tone of the ringing that they were annoyed, but, not as annoyed as I was for having to hear it all night.
    We might give it another chance to see if things improve but there are lots of restaurants in town that actually appreciate having you as a customer and greet you warmly on the way in and thank you on the way out. Maybe, they will learn, maybe they’ll just go out of business like so many disenterested others.

  3. Natasha
    March 28, 2011 at 6:51 am — Reply

    On behalf of the owners of The Bibo – Lorenzo and Andrea – we are sorry to hear that you’ve had a negative experience at the restaurant. Lorenzo – the gentleman who joined your discussion with the waiter – is extremely passionate about his restaurant and food and wanted to quickly resolve your concerns about the pizza. We apologize if you felt his manner was inappropriate to the situation.

    Please note that the owners take feedback very seriously. They’re aware that the Neapolitan style of pizza they offer may not be familiar to all Vancouverites but hope the flavours and blends will appeal to the majority of their guests. Lorenzo and Andrea extend their apologies to you and invite you to join them again at your convenience for a glass of wine while you taste-test the latest incarnation of their beloved pizza.

    Blogger Relations & Care
    Natasha N Davies

  4. randy
    April 17, 2011 at 11:39 am — Reply

    Boycott the Bibo!
    Unhelpful and hurried would be a kind way to describe my first and last visit to the bibo. Save yourself the disappointment and inconvenience by choosing anywhere but this joke of a restaurant.
    The Bi-boooooo had no problem taking a reservation for 17, but is seriously lacking the organization or skills to make it a pleasant or fulfilling experience for anyone.
    The group was split into two tables. (10 and 7)
    Not the end of the world, but would have been nice to know this in advance.
    At the smaller table, we had no introduction or greeting from our waitress, were hurried through our meal, and as we soon found out, had our tables booked for a second seating 2 hours after ours.
    I guess that would explain why the 2 owners were constantly pacing, pointing, and coming by to look, without once asking how we were doing. They were much more concerned with turning over the tables than making it enjoyable for anyone. In fact, their constant pacing and looking made it uncomfortable, and unenjoyable from the moment we were seated.
    The waitress was put-off that we didn’t have our orders ready right away, yet we only had one menu for 7 people.
    It bothered her that she had to fetch enough so we could actually order the meal. It got worse from there.
    When my underwhelmingly small portion of pasta arrived, there was no fresh parmesan, or pepper, or bread, or anything we might expect from a place who’s menu makes such a point of touting it’s own magnificence.
    Before anyone was half way through our meal, we were made aware that our table was needed for the second seating in 45 minutes. Not really our problem, but we tried to be helpful and oblige by eating quickly and moving to the other, bigger table. No offer of drink refills, no mention of dessert, or any apology for their mis-management or poor performance. When we tried to consolidate to one table, the bill arrived there as well before people were even done dining.
    When I did speak to the owner about how terrible the whole experience was, and made him aware that none of us would ever return, his response was this:
    “I have lots of patrons that like my restaurant. So don’t come back.”
    We weren’t rude, noisy, or drunk, as people tend to get at birthdays and large gatherings. We just wanted to eat and be treated as proper, paying patrons.
    My only saving grace was that I avoided ordering one of their “authentic” soggy, limp and lifeless servings of shit on a shingle that they call pizza.
    In 37 years of my life I have never had a worse dining experience.
    If the Bi-Booooo closed today it wouldn’t be soon enough. Good luck with your business, jerks.

  5. Miss M
    April 20, 2011 at 7:37 am — Reply

    If Bibo is selling cultural authenticity, then they shouldn’t be making chocolate pizzas and pizzas that become soggy within minutes. Bibo has notoriously bad service, ungracious hosts and inedible food. The manager/ owner is incompetent and incapable of properly managing a restaurant and placating patrons whose needs aren’t being met on a basic service level. In a city full of amazing Italian food and equally wonderful hosts, Bibo doesn’t make the cut.

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