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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Opening Day at Barbacco: Rustic Food, Speedy Service, Impeccable Fats

Posted By on Tue, Jan 12, 2010 at 10:09 AM

click to enlarge Bruschette trio: Simultaneously polished and rustic. - VINDIVINE R./FLICKR
  • VinDivine R./Flickr
  • Bruschette trio: Simultaneously polished and rustic.
At yesterday's kickoff lunch for Barbacco, GM Umberto Gibin and Chef Staffan Terje watched as their polished second venture packed 'em in at around 1 p.m. Asked how things were going, Gibin replied, "So far, so good."

Considering Barbacco ― an eno-trattoria concept that hinges on a 150-deep, mostly biodynamic and organic wine list ― hadn't gotten its liquor license in gear yet, the crowd appeared in good spirits. The lunch crowd came out in number; we heard only one gasp of surprise when a party learned they would have to eat without imbibing.

click to enlarge The space once housed Rado's Deli. - C. ALBURGER
  • C. Alburger
  • The space once housed Rado's Deli.
Barbacco fills a more rustic and affordable niche than Perbacco, Gibin and Terje's fine dining place practically next door. But with a Cass Calder Smith design and a menu flaunting impeccably sourced ingredients, the restaurant is unavoidably refined. The trio of bruschette ($8) and beet citrus salad ($6/$9) we tasted wouldn't be out of place at Perbacco. Let's just say there's not a chance in hell you would have found Bellwether Crescenza or a shred of rucola at Barbacco's predecessor in the space, Rado's Deli.

click to enlarge Futuristic POS systems strapped to the waiters sped service along. - C. ALBURGER
  • C. Alburger
  • Futuristic POS systems strapped to the waiters sped service along.
Servers were well informed and speedy, an accomplishment for any opening day. The futuristic strap-on POS systems and check printers no doubt played a part.

Diners seemed to be kicking New Year's diets right out Barbacco's front door.

Bruschette were a popular choice, as well as Terje's hearty borlotti bean minestra with prosciutto and ditalini and two pasta dishes with meat sauces ― a pancetta-spiked tomato sauce and a classic Bolognese. We noticed the chef's diligence about fats: French fries were cooked in duck fat, while the crust in the apple crostada contained lard.

So far, so good.

Barbacco 230 California (at Front), 955-1960

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Carolyn Alburger


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