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What is it about Perbacco?

I have now tried it 3 times and fail to see what all the rave is about . The service is really wonderful, I love the bartenders, they have some great wines, but it seems to me that the food is lacking in flavor not quality. Am I alone on this?

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  1. Did you try the pansotti, milk-braised pork shoulder, short rib stracotto, or panna cotta?

    1. I had lunch at Perbacco last week. The grilled octopus salad and braised oxtail-filled ravioli had PLENTY of flavor (and quality as well). The stuffed cabbage was less impressive, but still plenty good.

      Perbacco does an especially good job with braised and stewed meats & meat sauces.

      6 Replies
      1. re: DavidT

        I had the octopus salad and still found it unimpressive. I'll try the pork shoulder and ravioli next time.

        1. re: rocio415

          Beauty (and taste) is in the eye of the beholder. What restaurants serving Italian food in San Francisco do impress you?

        2. re: DavidT

          ...as most of Piemontese cuisine does.

          When you're going for Piemontese food, you have to steer for the plate of Crudo di Fassano (raw ground veal with olive oil, etc.) instead of things like octopus salad. At least if they're worth their weight in attempting Piemontese cuisine. That's the stuff that will change your mind.

          1. re: swag

            Perbacco's not exclusively Piemontese. They also make some Ligurian and Venetian dishes.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              None of which I've found to be their strong suit.

              1. re: swag

                I thought the pansotti were very good.

        3. I only thought it was okay (a year ago--and yes, we ordered the signature dishes) and haven't been in any hurry to return. Maybe if I were downtown and someone else were paying.

          1. I have been to Perbacco several times and have always enjoyed my meal. I am very specific about where I am seated due to noise and temperature levels but they have always been very accommodating.

            Some favorites are the salumi - especially the Ciccioli. The truffled egg toast with san daniele prosciutto is delicious. The burrata is always very fresh and the portion of cheese is very generous. Someone mentioned the carne crudo and it is quite noteworthy. My favorite pastas are the Tajarin with a five hour pork sugo and the pappardelle with short rib ragu. Last time I visited they had taken the milk braised pork off the menu and I was sorry to see it go - it is delicious. As are the side dish of Brussels Sprouts with house made guanciale.

            The desserts are usually very good the only miss I have ever encountered was the Monte Bianco.

            I like Perbacco quite a bit but think that the luck of seating (or lack thereof) might color some people's experiences.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pastryqueen

              Had yet another excellent lunch at Perbacco on Thursday. We were fortunate to be seated immediately, in spite of not having a reservation.

              Had the Salumi Misti - seemed a bit better better than the last time I had it.

              Followed by the beet salad - another favourite of mine here at Perbacco.

              Next came the Lamb Sirloin Tagliata - asked for it medium rare - absolute hit with the mint 'salsa verde'.

              My companions had the tuna conserva salad and the hanger steak, and they could not stop raving about it. IMHO, this is the premier Italian lunch resto in the FiDi.

            2. As noted above, Perbacco specializes in the foods of the northwest regions of Italy (primarily Piemonte & Liguria). If one is looking for the spicy sausages, garlic, red-hot peppers, olive oil and tomatoes that is found in much of the food of southern Italy, you will not find those foods at Perbacco. In that sense, the food at Perbacco might not be as "flavorful" as one is expecting. On the other hand, I find the food at Perbacco has a richness and depth of flavor that is outstanding.

              P.S. It should be noted that pesto, the great sauce of Liguria, features both garlic and olive oil!

              1. As an Italian born and raised in Italy in a family of restaurateurs, I find Perbacco the best Italian restaurant in the city bar none- at least in its price range. I am originally from Romagna, and my husband is from Piemonte. We find the dining experience at Perbacco very much like home. Not only the friendly service, but also the food per se- I always enjoy a lunch or a dinner of Agnolotti (the meat-filled version) and some of their fantastic meat dishes.

                Last time I was there with two Italian chefs from Romagna and two Piemontesi, we had a lunch that blew our socks off. We started with the salumi platter, which I second it's been getting better and better. The mortadella got compliments from my chef friends as one of the best they ever tried, although I found it a bit too fatty. I fell in love with the ciccioli, which instead of being served in the traditional Italian way, dried up as a "snack" food, were served as a "pate" with the mostarda di Cremona as a topping. I am not a fan of either dishes, but together- that was a blissful combination! The fritto misto, comprised of calamari and squid and garden vegetables reminded me of the ones my parents serve in their business, on the Adriatic coast. The pasta dishes, all handmade, are fabulous- in my opinion they are better than Quince's. My favorite are the agnolotti, which I find plenty flavorful and just delicious. In terms of entrees, I have never failed with their meat dishes- whether the braised oxtail or the milk braised pork.

                That said, not all palates are equal and we can't all enjoy the same food! I want only to attest to the originality of their dishes and of their menu. I find their selection a very typical Piemonte menu- which means that it does have some influences, but it keeps to the core of the traditional cuisine of the area: hearty, simple, and flavorful.

                1 Reply
                1. re: VanessaItalyinSF

                  I've had better agnolotti in Alba and Torino, naturally, but Perbacco's version is pretty good. What I didn't like about Perbacco was the corporate feel of the dining room. It feels to slick and "big city". And the hike to the bathrooms, down a janitorial corridor. They could have made the bathrooms a little homier. I had the Prosciutto San Daniele and it was not served at room temp, too cold and just out of the salumi storage fridge behind the bar. Service was efficient but very impersonal. Not impressed but I will try another visit or two.