Barbacco's transition from daytime spot to wine bar seemed to affect the service. At lunch, the waiters were fully prepared for a 90-minute-max meal; they moved quickly, bringing our caponata sandwich ($9) precisely the minute we'd dispensed of a (lackluster) roasted mushroom and frisée salad ($7/small). But once the after-work wine drinkers were joined by the making-a-night-of-it diners, the servers couldn't — or wouldn't — always keep up. One of my dinners began at 7 and ended at 10, and we weren't the ones dawdling. We waited 20 minutes for our waiter to notice us after we were seated, half an hour after we finished one course before he stopped by to discover our empty plates, and 20 minutes more for the check. Each time he'd sweep in, blithely smiling over our discontent, conduct business with the polish of a 20-year-pro, and vanish into the throng. The excruciating pace gave me flashbacks to the last time I was trapped in rush-hour traffic behind a crash on the I-80 onramp.

Perbacco gives birth to Barbacco, just two doors down.
Jen Siska
Perbacco gives birth to Barbacco, just two doors down.

Location Info



230 California
San Francisco, CA 94111

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Union Square/ Financial District


955-1919, takeout 955-1960, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 5-10 p.m. Sat. Muni: F, J, K, L, M, N, 1, 30. Reservations: limited, mostly for parties of six or more. Noise level: loud.
220 California (at Front)

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But the night I arrived at happy hour time, another waiter approached strong, advancing pairing suggestions, talking up Cirilli's love for "orange" (aromatic, even sherrylike) wines; when he spotted indecision at the table, he read it as eno-terror and smoothly shifted to pushing sweeter, brighter types. He slid in some learnin' with each glass or plate he delivered, and even apologized when the 6:30 deluge washed him out to sea for a spell. It was a thoughtful performance, and I didn't begrudge him the fact that he kept selling me on additional three-ounce pours of wine. Heck, if the micropayment plan works so well for a casual restaurant like Barbacco, perhaps it will keep online newspapers afloat, too.

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