By Larry Levine –

As Sacramento has grown into an outstanding restaurant town, Biba has remained a mainstay, attracting a loyal local following that includes many of the state’s political and governmental leaders.

Biba is one of my two favorite restaurants in California for a whole host of reasons.

Each time I visit Biba – I’ve been dining there for more than 20 years – it feels like going home. Sure, the room is far larger and more elegant than anything we have in our house. Yet, the décor is warm and welcoming and the staff, from the front door, to the bar to the waiters is friendly and extremely helpful.

Owner Biba Caggiano is on site most nights to supervise the action and greet diners. She’s the award-winning cookbook author, TV chef and teacher of Italian cooking. There’s nothing pro forma about her table visits; she really wants to know you are enjoying the food and being served with care.

No restaurant would deserve this lofty praise if the food were not absolutely tops. Biba meets that test. It’s the only restaurant at which I will order calamari fritti. It comes so lightly battered that you can hardly tell it’s battered at all. The squid is firm but not tough and the flavor outclasses any other calamari fritti I’ve ever eaten. Then there are the can’t-miss pastas. There’s a revolving assortment of gnocchi that is not to be missed; same goes for the ravioli. Daughter-in-law Edie introduced us to her favorite – spinach linguini. Lamb dishes always stand out; the duck breast is wonderful. And then there are the things that come and go from the menu – sweetbreads, cioppino, stuffed pork chops, roast quail.

Biba is located at 2801 Capital Ave. in east Sacramento. Phone number is (916) 455-2422. Web site is

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