|49 Rue de Ecoles|
+33 (0) 1 43 54 13 67
8:00am to 11:45pm daily
Friday, September 23, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Perbacco is a well established traditional, yet modern, Italian restaurant specializing primarily in the regional cuisine of Piemonte. It has definitely earned its fine reputation. We were really looking forward to having dinner there with a friend who is also committed to finding the best restaurants in our fair city. On our first visit we carefully went through the menu, hoping to find items we thought would distinguish this restaurant from other traditional Northern Italian restaurants we have tried.
To start each table is given an ample supply of grissini with a deep, grassy olive oil for dipping. When we ordered starters, it was difficult to pass on the veal tartar with truffled lardo crostino, so we didn't bother, but went ahead and ordered it. The lardo warmed by the toasted bread was silky and earthy, thanks to the truffle oil; it could easily have stood on its own, but was better in the smaller quantity because of its richness. The veal tartar was delicate in flavor, not only because it was veal, but because it was not overly enhanced with other ingredients. Perbacco's simplified version of a tartar was elegant and using mustard micro greens instead of mustard made the taste cleaner and less muddled. Even though beef tartar is a French classic, restraint on the recipe made it purely Italian.
Restraint is not a word that could be used in discussing the raviolo. As a pasta lover, ordering just one piece was an entirely new experience and a bit disconcerting. After having heard about ravioli filled with raw egg yolks, this was my first opportunity to try one, but I instinctively knew one would not be enough. Looking at it on the plate gave me some comfort because it was large, but at $13 a pop, it seemed skimpy. After cutting it open with my fork and tasting the first bite, it occurred to me that it was worth even more than the current menu price. This filled pasta dish, composed of truffled ricotta, egg yolk, black chanterelle mushrooms and asparagus was enchanting and seductive. I'll go even further to say it was luxurious on the palate. Going back to Perbacco and not ordering it again would be impossible.
It cannot be said that after the raviolo, everything else paled by comparison, but my attention was still heavily on the raviolo, and letting its taste linger was weighing against trying my second course, while it remained hot. After it had significant table time, I finally cut open the blood sausage. It was selected because it was the very first time I have seen this sausage offered as a menu item in this country. I almost hesitated because of the braised radicchio that came with it, but the sweetness of the sausage made it a good pairing. It was so good, that I now buy boudin noir regularly. Our friend enjoyed his braised rabbit, saying it was tender, not dry. The portion was notable.
It can be safely said that Perbacco excels in pasta making and meat braising. Those qualities are perfectly exemplified in the Langaroli, their ravioli filled with braised short ribs, and porcini mushrooms in a red wine butter sauce. Excuisite is the word that comes to mind when I recall this pasta. It was flawless. Once more, it would be difficult to go back to this restaurant without ordering this pasta. It was an inspired way to use up any of their leftover beef short rib stracotto, another popular menu item. In fact, that will be my next main course selection, based entirely on the taste of this pasta.
|230 California Street |
San Francisco, CA 94111 (map)