Luminary of the Sacramento dining scene Biba Caggiano has died. The Bologna-born chef, author, and TV personality was 82. Her midtown Italian restaurant, Biba, opened in 1986 and is credited with invigorating the Sacramento food scene. The Sacramento Bee ran her obituary yesterday.
Caggiano’s many admirers included former SF mayor Willie Brown, who made her his personal chef for a time, and Patrick Mulvaney, co-owner of restaurant Mulvaney’s B&L, who said Caggiano “set a standard to which we should all aspire.”
Caggiano moved to Sacramento with her American husband in 1978. Without formal restaurant training, she opened Caggiano, with backing from a former owner of the Sacramento Kings, Joe Benvenuti. The restaurant was a hit, and is still sought out for dishes Caggiano’s dishes like lasagne verdi alla bolognese, a seven layered masterpiece of fresh pasta interspersed with rich bolognese and bechamel sauces.
“Caggiano became a symbol of Sacramento in her own right,” the Bee writes in its obituary. “As her adopted hometown changed and grew, Biba Caggiano remained a constant source of goodwill and community.”
In recent years, Caggiano was diagnosed with Alzheimers. and has spent less and less time in the dining room at Biba. She is survived by her husband and children, and her namesake Biba, which is on Eater’s list of the 38 Essential Sacramento restaurants, is still going strong.
The restaurant shared the following statement:
We, Biba’s restaurant family, cannot express our gratitude enough to everyone for their love and support during this difficult time. The outpouring of heartfelt sentiments and sharing of stories from the people she has touched is a true testament to Biba’s character and to her legacy. We share with you the joy of her memory, the sadness of her loss, and the hope that we can keep her legacy burning bright with every meal we serve. Biba Restaurant will remain open for as long as our community will have us. Rest assured we will make every effort to honor Biba’s warmth, gracious hospitality, and treasured recipes for years to come.
- Biba [Official]
- Biba dies at 82. Her restaurant introduced a dining renaissance with a welcoming soul [Sacramento Bee]