Restaurants & Bars 37

Barbacco [SF]

sundeck sue | Oct 21, 2010 10:16 AM

Ate at Barbacco for the first time. The food was great. It was loud. The service didn't quite hit the right notes.

Although we'd made a res, we were seated at the bar. Next to screaming 20-something young women (we definitely brought up the median age, and that may be an underlying theme of this review). But the 20-somethings kind of had to scream to be heard. And everyone else had to scream to be heard over them. And so on.

Almost all the food was wonderful--romaine salad w/ anchovy parm bright and balanced, pomodoro soup nice deep flavors, house-cured sardine bruchetta perhaps the most briliant flavors, pasta w/ pork ragu a very good rendition, pork meatballs very tasty, charred brussel sprouts crispy/ punchy (maybe a tad too much balsamic). Didn't love the squid (tomato sauce fought w/ the fish imo, though my husband enjoyed). Bruchetta w/ greens a miss (flat/dull-tasting). And while I liked the truffled lardo bruschetta quite a lot, my husband took one bite and let me finish it (suspect he's just not a lardo guy).

Way more food than we understood from the "small plates" (turned out more like "medium") moniker and low prices, so we got to take stuff home. The waiter first encouraged us to get lots of dishes, explaining that they were small plates to share--but he did (thankfully) stop us from ordering even more than we did. He asked if we wanted suggestions and then proceeded to suggest 10 different things--none of which sounded delicious. So maybe it was just a mis-match of tastes, but his extensive recitations began to feel more of an intrusion than a help.

And the way food was brought out was a bit of a puzzle. Initially, one dish at a time, which was quite nice--we got to savor each dish that we shared. But then suddenly four dishes at once, pasta, meatballs, squid, brussel sprouts. Perhaps because they decided this was our main course, though actually each was in a separate category on the menu (pasta, fish, main, veg) --perhaps because it was late, and the kitchen was wrapping up--maybe it was up to us to say we wanted the pasta, then the fish, then the meatballs and veg--though the pacing up til then had been done by the kitchen and done well.

When we stepped back onto the sidewalk, my husband said, that was great, let's go back. I said, that was great, and I'm not sure I want to go back. The food was worthy of Michael Bauer's 3 stars--and maybe better than what we'd eaten the last time we were at Perbacco at a much higher price-point. But there was something jangley about the whole experience, such that I ended up very well fed but wishing for more of a sense of contentment. It felt more like a bar w/ really good food rather than a lovely restaurant--and that's maybe what it's supposed to be.

230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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