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Osteria or Bibou??

Occasion is a birthday dinner (mine) and I am having trouble deciding which of these choices is best for my husband and I this weekend. We have been to neither restaurant and I was certain that Osteria was my preference because I love italian food, have wanted eat there since before it opened (been to and LOVED Vetri), and need a good excuse to venture up to N Broad but I am now having second thoughts. Bibou sounds wonderful in terms of food, service and location (walkable from our house) and has the benefit of being a BYO, which sits well with my with my wine-loving husband (who still bristles at the markups at PA restaurants after 4 years here).

At the risk of asking you to compare apples and oranges, which would you choose and why?

Thanks in advance for any insights and advice!

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  1. I've enjoyed both and IMO, the food at both was excellent. I have a hard time as I love both Italian and French food as well. Osteria is much larger and less of a personal experience than Bibou...you eat the food, it's very good, and you leave. Bibou, you're dealing with a tiny place and a very nice husband and wife team that could easily greet you at a countryside bistro in France. I think it depends on what type of experience you want. The food at either is great in terms of cuisine.

    1. It is apples to oranges: I'd choose Bibou myself, but if your preference is for Italian over French, I'd go to Osteria and not think twice about it. Both are excellent, but in my experience Bibou is more *consistently* excellent than Osteria. Still, I've had many very delicious things at Osteria, and only one thing I can think of (a truffle pizza) that I really thought was bad.

      You didn't mention cost exactly, but Osteria is probably going to cost you more than Bibou as well, partly due to the BYO factor but also entrees at Bibou top out around $25, at Osteria they start around $25. On the other hand, I've never had an entree there, usually my wife and I will split a pizza, a couple appetizers, and each get a pasta dish and that's plenty.

      1. It really is apples and oranges. Both have excellent food, though extremely different. Bibou is very refined, pure flavors and delicious sauces. Osteria is more rustic, and, obviously, Italian rather than French. Osteria has a pretty good wine list, but it can get pricey there very quickly. I thought the 7 course tasting menu ($70 each) at Bibou was a great way to celebrate a special occasion.

        The atmosphere's are also very different. Bibou is warm and intimate. I was struck by how friendly and comfortable it felt. Charlotte is just charming, and so many people seemed to know each other, it was just a happy place. Osteria is larger, with a cool, hip vibe rather than a warm, cozy vibe. Both can be appealing, it really just depends on what you are in the mood for.

        Good luck deciding.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

          I must have spoken to Charlotte when I made my reservation - very sweet and charming. She made a point of reminding me that it was cash only and that she'd remind me again when I call to re-confirm. If the restaurant takes on anything of her personality, I can see why it's so popular.

          1. re: Betsypaige

            Don't be scared of the pig's feet dish...it's got awesome flavor!

        2. Another vote for Bibou over Osteria (although I've only been to each once). As everyone has said, the atmosphere at Bibou is much more intimate and the chef and his wife are charming. Food is great and price will be less. Personally, I love Vetri and I'm not crazy about Osteria.

          1 Reply
          1. re: JanR

            We love both of them and would find it hard to choose. BUT if your husband prefers a BYO, then there's a deciding factor. We try to go to Osteria once a month -- like Buckethead, we order a pizza, a couple of appetizers and a couple of pastas which are always wonderful. We're returning to Bibou this week for the third time in just a couple of weeks, this time with guests. If Bibou is near your house and you can walk over, then that's just great.

          2. Many thanks for your thoughtful replies! Looks like we will be dining at Bibou. The warm service, excellent food, and walkability...combined with the promise of a great bottle (or two) from the cellar...make it a perfect choice. I can't wait and will report back!!