My never-ending quest to find an Italian restaurant comparable to Delfina finally led me to the entrance of Perbacco (read: a very nice gentleman finally offered to take me there) - one of Bauer's 100 best of the bay, and generally known to have a reputation for delicious, sophisticated Italian in the City. Equipped with 7x7's "Big Eat SF" list (not to mention an appetite big enough to eat the world), and having researched their signature dishes, I was ready to tackle Perbacco head-on.
I'm not going to lie, I definitely went into the night with certain expectations of how everything should play out. And, in terms of atmosphere, those expectations were filled as soon as I walked in the door. The lively, modern, refined atmosphere instantly appealed to my "city chic" preferences. And, the open kitchen not only let me catch a glimpse of what was going on behind the scenes, but let me flirt with the chefs (with my eyes of course!) on my way down to the restrooms. Unfortunately, I don't think they noticed...
The service was on point as well - there when we needed it, helpful in answering our numerous questions, friendly, even complete with a sommelier to help us find our way through their extensive list. No complaints.
But, as I always say in these reviews, my bottom line is the food, and unfortunately the word that comes to mind when I think of Perbacco's menu is "inconsistent." I feel that one of the pitfalls of offering such an extensive menu is that some dishes are simply not going to be at the same level as others. Such was the case at Perbacco; while their specialties certainly deserved their rave reviews, the rest of our meal left me wanting more.
**Exception: the bread sticks were buttery, perfectly crispy, and downright dangerous. Be warned that they serve bread sticks AND bread, so it's easy to fill up before the main course has even arrived!
As for appetizers, the SALUMI MISTI offered a variety of meat selections in sizable portions, however, it wasn't mind-blowing. Let's not kid ourselves here - it's sliced meat on a plate. Sure it's delicious, but it doesn't take a premier restaurant to serve it (and, I'm a bit spoiled by having Lucca down the street from my house). And, while the VEAL TRIPE was perfectly cooked, the composition of the dish was a bit uninspired and lacked seasoning.
Since, as I said, I was ready to eat the world, we tackled 3 pastas - the AGNOLOTTI DAL PLIN, the TAJARIN, and the RABATON. There was nothing especially memorable about the latter 2 - both were executed well, but I wasn't impressed by the flavors. When I eat ricotta gnocchi, I want to think I'm eating a cloud, and the Rabaton fell short of cloudliness. However, the Agnolotti (a dish they are known for) was everything I could've wanted and more. As soon as we dove into that dish, our lively conversation came to a dead silence - there was no room for words in the face of that rich, complex flavor. This was one of the top 5 pasta dishes I've had in the City, and if I was ever to go back, would be the only thing I'd need to order to feel completely satisfied.
With so many choices on the menu, I'm sure everyone can find something that makes their heart sing. However, for me, I want any and every selection I make to inspire me to jump on a table and start declaring my enduring love (don't worry, it's only happened 2-3 times). While my overall experience was solid, my quest to find sensational Italian food in San Francisco must continue.
230 California St # Stlv
San Francisco, CA 94111-4328