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Perbacco?? Yes or No?

I've been hearing mixed reviews... What do you think?

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  1. I was there with my family in March and we all loved it -- even my hard-to-please father.

    1. I've never been, but I have had 2 people tell me in the past couple of weeks that they went and found it very ordinary and they won't return. This was two different visits, the people don't know each other. It gave me pause, I must say.

      1. I visited Perbacco twice, the visits were maybe 4 or so months apart. The first time (lunch) I really loved it, but the lunch was a "celebration" of sorts, so I wonder if that might have colored my judgment. In any case, I think the food was much better prepared at the lunch than at dinner I had there 4 months later, and we probably also stumbled upon better dishes at the lunch as well.

        The 5 hour pork sugo was very nice, as was the salumi misti. Caramel gelato with black sea salt also quite good. The beet salad was done well on my first visit, but was not good the 2nd time around (it only looked half finished, since there was less stuff on the plate, and the vinaigrette seemed to go missing). The braised pork shoulder was flavorful and had some great fork-tender parts, while other parts were not nearly as tender as they should've been. The uni crudo we had at dinner was fine, but not remarkable. So I guess, a bit of a mixed bag. It's definitely a solid restaurant, but not exceptional, in my opinion.

        Service was very nice and professional on both visits. No wine was ordered on either visit, so I can't comment on that aspect.

        2 Replies
        1. re: shortexact

          Well, there you have it---mixed reviews! Thanks. How's the noise level?? Ambiance, etc.??

          1. re: golompki

            I found it quite noisy. Ambience was fine, not especially cozy or romantic or anything, but not bad at all, especially considering that it was rather noisy.

            Given these other reports suggesting awkward service, it sounds like I may have just been a bit lucky to have gotten very good service both times.

        2. I went last Tuesday with a friend. We sat at a table at about 4pm. I made eye contact with several bartenders as soon as possible. Despite this, we sat there for 20 minutes without anyone taking our drink order. We left and walked to Coco500, where we encountered great service as soon as we sat down.

          1 Reply
          1. re: grishnackh

            i've been twice. first time, food and service were a grand slam. second time was a big let down. we were left waiting a long time for a table, and while the service was excellent, they committed a major sin - seriously overcooked my fish. my dining companion found problems with her food as well. both times, noise was a problem. i'm in search of alternatives before i'll plunk down my bucks there again.

          2. I had a nice dinner there tonight. The place is very busy and bustling, the noise level was ok, but we were upstairs. I sat at the bar for a while and it was much louder on the ground level as described by one of the previous posters. The scene tonight was an after work crowd, most tables had four or more, not the place for a romantic dinner. Service was excellent, nice cocktail menu. Standout dishes of the night were the cuttlefish antipasto, tasting of cured meats, trufie pasta and the pistachio cake dessert. We tried a variety of the pastas. The Trufie was excellent, the others were good but fairly ordinary. Would go again but probably just for lunch.

            1. I had dinner there with my husband and parents. Service was very polished and polite but food was UNIMPRESSIVE. Nothing was inedible but it was the first time in many, many years that I could remember *every* person at the table needing to salt their dish.

              Mixed salumi: good but not that different than what you could get in any deli (the exception was the blood sausage with fresh green apple that was probably the best thing all night).

              Frito misto with rock shrimp: same thing he used to do at Scalas with the lemon, green bean, fennel, etc, except now less of the batter sticks to it. rock shrimp were big, plump and juicy though.

              Braised Lamb: meh. not memorable. not seasoned at all.

              Pork Sugo with english peas and tortelloni: peas were ok but once again NO SEASONING.

              Two other mains were so not memorable- I can't remember them! I think they were both pastas, one with shortrib and the other was (maybe) a bolognese style sauce? neither very good.

              Desserts: more interesting. grapefruit semifreddo had a nice texture. "ugly cookies" were warm and chewy, not too sweet. the gelatos were all over the top strong flavors- nothing subtle about the salt in their caramel ice cream.

              I wish it had been better because the service was really good, but the food did not make me want to go back. It makes me wonder what all the fuss is about.

              1. I've had five or six meals there, all good, but the place is so huge I worry about consistency when it's full.

                Overall I don't think it's quite as good as Incanto, La Ciccia, or A16, but it's one of the best places in the FiDi neighborhood.

                1. The cured meats on the mixed platter were infantile compared to both what they used to offer and what we can get at Olivetto or Incanto. Maybe they just aren't keeping up with demand, but our platter was mainly terrines or emulsified sausages that weren't aged more than a few days, and the seasoning (spices) were all out of whack. We didn't finish most of the items on the plate, which is unusual for us.

                  The kitchen then messed up and sent out two courses of pasta at the same time, which were brought by a guy who wasn't our server but was something more than a runner. Apparently he was so important that he wasn't interested in our answer to "who had the bolognese?" and he just put it down in front of my boyfriend. We each said something and were ignored, and then he asked where to put the extra two pastas. As I switched our plates, I told him it didn't matter, since we wouldn't have time to eat them while they were warm and we would just eat them as if they didn't taste like anything.

                  To their credit, he took the extra dishes away and they remade the pastas and brought them back with appropriate timing. The second pasta course was much tastier than the first, either because they actually came out when they were ready as opposed to letting two sit while the last two finished to bring out four at once, or maybe because I got the kitchen's attention with my mini temper tantrum.

                  I was probably the diner from hell, but after being tweaked on two of my peeves in under 20 seconds if I didn't say something I probably would have just asked for the check.

                  I also wasn't thrilled with the sommelier's wine recommendation, which was a Barbera d'Alba with 14.5 percent alcohol and pronounced raisin flavors. When he came by later to ask how the wine was, I told him I liked it well enough but it was pretty hot and raisiny. He responded that it's quite typical for a Barbera. Maybe my experience with Barbera is too limited, but based on what I've encountered in the past and what I could find on the web about Barberas they don't have a "typical" alcohol content and 14.5 is definitely the upper edge. High alcohol wines certainly have their place, but there are also times when I think they hijack a meal and I'd like to be informed ahead of time.

                  1. Just had lunch there with a party of six. This was my fourth visit to Perbacco, and overall we had a good meal. Highlights were the hanger steak, which actually tasted a lot like skirt steak, but much was much more tender. The northern Halibut was also excellent, with a good crust. The sole was cooked well, and tasted good, but didn't benefit from the sliced radishes and heavy green pesto on top. The tajarin with pork sugo was good, but not extraordinary. Others at the table like this more than me, and order it each time they visit. The salumi misti was not as good as the other times we've ordered it, and I would probably skip it next time.

                    Service was pleasant and accommodating, and the dishes were timed correctly. The desserts were just so-so: the gelato trio was a little heavy-handed, and the lemon panna cotta was different than the other times I have ordered it here -- extremely watery, and the accompaniments were not very complementary (some sort of dark red/brown sauce and crudely sliced strawberries). I would definitely return, but because by now I've tried most everything on the menu, I would probably look elsewhere for a special occasion.

                    For me, Perbacco has been a reliably good restaurant that is at times exceptionally good.

                    1. Went about a week ago for Saturday dinner and was extremely impressed, and I'm usually quite picky. Standouts: watermelon appetizer, prawns & squid on the piastra, agnolotti (so rich but absolutely spectacular). Not great but still enjoyable: pork sugo tagiatelle, ugly cookies. Only disappointments were the salumi misti (only the coppa was memorable) and the Piedmont flight of wines. I'd definitely go back again, but order carefully -- I believe reports say to avoid entrees for the most part, which we did.

                      1. They must have attempted to model it after Roberto Perego's Perbacco in the Borgo Nuovo district of Torino (Piemonte, of course). While I don't think it measures up to its namesake, it's still quite good, IMO, and definitely worth a table.