The BiBo: An uncompromisingly authentic Italian experience
“I’m sorry,” said our waitress, placing our menus on our table and indicating one of the items, “but this antipasto platter is off the menu while we wait for burrata cheese to arrive from Italy.”
Her comments were indicative of what ultimately defined the character of The BiBo’s menu: its unapologetic determination to remain faithful to its roots.
The BiBo's bar and wine selection. On this occasion they were screening "Pinnocchio"
Chef and co-owner Lorenzo Botazzi informed me that each item on the menu was prepared in the most authentically Italian way possible. Their pizzas are baked Neapolitan-style in a wood-fueled oven and served uncut. Their pesto, composed simply of fresh basil (from the Liguria region of Italy’s North-Western coast) and olive oil, without garlic or other seasonings, is ground by hand using a mortar and pestle. Simplicity is emphasized almost to the extreme in the course of letting the ingredients speak for themselves.
Here in Canada, Botazzi told me, diners have become accustomed to having a lot of complex flavors in their foods. They use a great deal of garlic, spices, and creams in our cooking, even when adopting a generally Italian style.
Real Italian foods, he says, don’t need such complexity. What they need are the right ingredients from the right places, and as few of them as possible. Botazzi sees sophistication as a distraction from quality.
Some might see arrogance in Botazzi's belief that his food should be served in old-school Italian style, regardless of popular opinion. I found him to be a man who cares deeply about tradition and authenticity. His goal is not to please everyone who walks through the door, but rather to provide something for those interested in truly Italian cuisine. “I don’t want to say we’re better,” says Botazzi, “but we are the most authentic Italian experience."
The BiBo’s dishes each showcase their ingredients in humble, minimalist style. Each of these ingredients has been selected from a specific region of Italy in order to bring its distinctive terroir to the dishes it compliments. The tomatoes in the pizza sauce, for example, are sourced from a different region than those used in the pasta sauce.
The BiBo's pizzas are cooked in a wood-fueled oven that gives them a pleasantly smokey flavour
The pizza was soft and moist, best suited to eating with knife and fork. It was sprinkled with intensely earthy Piedmont porcini mushrooms and sparsely cheesed with slices of mozzarella. The sauce, absent the often-ubiquitous garlic, oregano and other spices, conveyed a sweet tomato flavor intense enough that I never missed them.
The gnocchi, hand-made made from a carefully-considered blend of Italian flours, was light and fluffy, and the simple pesto in which it was served was quintessentially dark, sharp basil.
The BiBo's tirimisu was delicious: not too sweet and tantilizingly boozey.
The BiBo is located at 1835 West 4th Ave, just off Burrard.