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.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. 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