For me, as the Moscow evening weather cools and the days abruptly become shorter in October, the indoor restaurant season springs to life. This magical Moscow crossroads between long summer days and heavy winter coats rekindles a galaxy of warm memories of past cozy dinners. Thus, Osteria Bianca (Bianca) appeared on my radar with perfect timing for a dinner date during a favorite time of year in Moscow.
Bianca has an extremely convenient location if one is arriving by metro. It is crucial, however, to take one’s time to be sure to exit the Belorusskaya metro labyrinth correctly. Follow the exit signs towards Lesnaya ulitsa – ring line or radius line – and you will exit into a pedestrian only square. Looking straight ahead, Coffemania is to your right, Torro Grill and Starbucks are to your middle, and Bianca is to your left. As well, Bianca is very close to the Holiday Inn Lesnaya if you happen to be in Moscow and staying at this popular hotel.
Dinner was set for 7PM, and I arrived a few minutes early. Bianca was bustling with activity, and I could tell immediately that I was going to like spending time in this restaurant.
The dinner crowd was varied – couples on romantic dates, larger parties of friends meeting up, and several people sitting alone behind a laptop with dinner and coffee. In short, Bianca provides an atmosphere where nearly anybody feels comfortable immediately.
Throughout the evening, I was extremely impressed by the extent to which the head chef, Salvatore Barbara , interacted with all the tables seated. I have not had an experience in Moscow where I have felt that a chef has cared as much about making a customer feel comfortable and taken care of in a restaurant – kudos!
Before going to Bianca, I reviewed its website to understand the cuisine offered. I was not sure if I was to expect a Boston style oyster house as the name Osteria implies or a traditional European seafood restaurant. To this extent, while Bianca does offer Fresh Oysters
(180 RUR each), Bianca’s menu is balanced and varied around a surf and turf theme. The menu also offers an array of pasta and pizza if you are looking for a faster turnaround or are short on time.
The dining atmosphere at Bianca balances informal and formal – that is, a person could be as comfortable having a light dinner and drinks with friends after work or formally entertaining guests. I found Bianca to have the perfect touch of lighting for a crisp autumn evening – a mix of “bright enough” lighting melded into a well thought-out interior color scheme, and not the horrible dull lighting as I have found the case in many higher end restaurants in Moscow.
While waiting for my dinner date to arrive, I ordered an Unfiltered Pauleainer Beer
(330 RUR, 500ml) and Blue-finned Tuna Tartar with Goat Cheese
(580 RUR). The tuna tartar was exquisite, with the fresh taste of the tuna complimented superbly by the toasted bread with goat cheese.
To be sure to have a hot dish on the table when my dinner date arrived, I placed a delayed order for Mussel in Mediterranea Style and Garlic Bread
(350 RUR). This is a hearty dish of steamed mussels in a tangy sauce, garnered with cherry tomatoes and greens, and it arrived piping hot and with perfect timing.
To sample the menu and further delve into appetizers, upon Salvatore’s recommendation, we also ordered Salmon Taratara with Potatoes Salad and Sauce
(390 RUR), Tomatoes Soup with Ricotta Cheese
(250 RUR), and Broccoli Soup with Gorgonzola Cheese
To wit, between the cold/hot appetizers and soups, Bianca has 37 offerings – so there is a great chance that you will find several items to your liking.
The salmon tartar was presented with caper mushrooms that complimented one of the best potato salads that I have ever tried in my life. To say that I was pleasantly surprised that a dish featuring potato salad could be so good would be an understatement. Both soups, as well, featured the perfect cheese for both – the tomato soup was a balance of hearty and tangy, and the broccoli was a rich cream soup thick on taste and texture.
We ordered main entrees upon Salvatore’s recommendation and wine upon the recommendation of the sommelier to complement. I ordered Duck, Veal, and Lamb Chop Grill Served with Grilled Vegetable and Mushroom Sauce
(1100 RUR) and a glass of Argiano Red Wine
(550 RUR, 125 ml) from Tuscany. My dinner date ordered Grilled Seafood,Ssalmon, Sea Bass and Tiger Prawns with Green Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes
(1500 RUR) and a glass of Catena Chardonnay
(480 RUR, 125 ml).
This was the first time that I have had duck in Moscow that proved to be a positive memorable experience – in the past, duck has been a disappointment, but Salvatore assured me that I would not be disappointed. To wit, the duck was fabulous – simply divine – and both the veal and lamb chops were excellent. The mushroom sauce went perfectly with the recommended wine as well.
The seafood entree had huge tiger prawn shrimp that were accompanied by succulent filets of salmon and sea bass. The chardonnay was the absolute correct light wine choice for the composition.
The portions for both main dishes were large and presented appealing value for the price. You would be hard pressed to find the same level of quality ingredients, flavor, and presentation at a similar price point in other Moscow restaurants today. Also, be sure to slow down and enjoy the entree offerings, as the desert menu offers very appealing choices.
For dessert, we had a difficult time deciding what to order – and were happy to take our time after large main dishes - so we chose the tact that variety is the spice of life with a troika of desserts. Tiramisu with Marsala Wine and Orange Zeste
(350 RUR), Meringue Rolled Cake with Raspberry
(390 RUR), and Sorbet Trio
We garnered the desserts with Americano Coffee
(170 RUR) and Japanese Linden with Chamomile and Lime Oil Tea
The tiramisu was excellent – the right taste, texture, and sweetness. The meringue rolled cake, however, was one of the most memorable desserts that we have had at any restaurant in Moscow, ever. I forgot to inquire about the secret recipe, but – first and foremost – the next time that I am in the area, I will be sure to stop at Bianca to partake in a cup of hot coffee and meringue rolled cake. The sorbets were well matched to our coffee and tea and would be a nice, quick desert on a summer day.
The final bill was 7510 RUR, not including gratuity, and I consider that at that price level, Bianca offers a solid value proposition of somewhat informal dining with top shelf selection and execution. If we had not been doing a review, the final bill would have been closer to 4000 RUR, and that is an appealing cost for a dinner night out in Moscow.
With that being said, I recommend Osteria Bianca without hesitation and will return to this lovely restaurant, I am sure, many times in the future.
PS: I almost forgot to mention…be sure to try the degustive drink orangecello or limoncello to cap off your evening with a smile! We tried both, and they took the edge off the cool Moscow evening on the walk home. Highly recommended, and I do not believe that they are readily offered on the menu – you need to ask!