Sunday, December 19, 2010

But Enough About Me: Repost from The Bridge

This piece was recently published in The Bridge, a local publication for which I am a contributer.

But Enough About Me


It's fun to say.


Biba, a Latin dialect of the Spanish, bebida, means “drink”. But to hear the true inspiration behind the name of this new restaurant, check in with owner's Jason and Chrissy Benegasi.

“It's named after our dog.” Talk about honoring the legacy of your beloved pet. Biba, your name now lives on through Beaver's recent addition to ethnic dining. Good dog!

I sat down with Jason one October evening while under a tornado watch. A little wind and the threat of being whipped in the face by flying piles of crispy leaves wasn't about to stop me. I've played Dorothy. I know the adventure a twister can bring. There's no place like Biba!

Entering the restaurant, I was struck by the spaciousness of the tiny venue. Surprisingly, with room for only 11 tables, seating wasn't tight. And although Biba is considered one of Beaver's more upscale restaurants, there wasn't a hint of snootiness.

Jason, formerly of Lidia's Pittsburgh, dreamed of opening his own place for years.

Why Beaver?

“Beaver is obviously up and coming. It's a unique small town with a main drag feel – not commercial.” Here, we veered off, swapping opinions on local business vs. corporate establishments as it pertained to certain coffee shops. You can ask him for his thoughts on this subject. I agreed not to print details. Wink.

“Beaver is happening. Everyone here is really into their little town.”

He's exactly right. We adore our little town. What's not to love about our “main drag” which now boasts the flavors of Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Peru, and Argentina, thanks to Biba, whose menu specializes in dishes from South America and the Caribbean, along with Central American and Mexican influences.

“Folks may not recognize what's on the menu, but it's really nothing weird,” Jason joked. Chicken, steak, pork, and fish are regulars in the line up, with some new surprises coming in December.

Not to be confused with tapas, (a rumor I think I actually started – oops), Biba is a Latin seasonal restaurant, offering “small plates” (as well as larger dishes) from a unique menu which changes weekly. “Sticking to their guns” by using seasonal, fresh, and local ingredients, Jason shops with venders from our very own community. And while one might find the prices a bit startling at first, the finest ingredients combined with the talent of Executive Chef David Plankenhorn naturally comes at a premium.

I act nonchalant when Jason asks if I'm hungry, but truthfully, I was so hoping he'd ask.

He whips up two of his favorites: a jerk chicken taco on a home-made tortilla, topped with cabbage, pineapple/Serrano pepper salsa and a drizzle of sour cream, followed by a soft taco filled with jumbo lump crab and chorizo, sprinkled with onion and chihuahua cheese.

“You may need a fork with that one,” he shares. Nope. I had no intention of attempting proper table manners. Those tasty tacos were gone in a snap.

No sooner had I finished than Chef David, a former Chocletier, quietly laid a spoon of chocolate gonache on my plate.

I love him.

Venture into Biba and be treated to a meal that will stretch your culinary palate with dishes from countries far beyond the land of Beaver Bobcats. And if you find “new” to be strange and intimidating, and aren't brave enough to go it alone, allow me to accompany you. I'll even hold your hand.

Biba is located at 406 Third Street. (724) 728-7700. Tell them Joline sent you.

1 comment:

ecola said...

Love this place, and love coming back again and again. Great food, great people, great atmosphere. Amazing how much better fresh food prepared with care and thought, than boxed pasta and veal nuggets.