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Perbacco

A search of this board does not come up with any recent reviews of this restaurant. Open Table has quite a few favorable reviews. I've heard a lot of good things in the past about Perbacco and was wondering if it was a place to try on our visit to SF next month. Also, I see on their menu online that they have a Salsiccia Cruda (raw sausage of pork and veal) whch I have enjoyed in Italy and am ecstatic to see on a menu here in the States. Has anyone ever had it? What did you think? Thanks.

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  1. Did you do the search today? It was broken recently. Two reports from July:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/794910

    3 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      Thanks RL. I saw that post originally dated 2011 and did not read further. I guess I should have; my fault.

      Sorry to be dense, but what exactly do you mean by "It was broken recently."

      1. re: ttoommyy

        Search was broken. It probably wouldn't have found that topic.

    2. I haven't had that particular dish. But whenever i bring out of town italo-philes to Perbacco, they moan with delight over dishes they've not enjoyed outside of Italy itself. I recall the seasonal mostarda in particular getting mucho praise.

      1 Reply
      1. re: escargot3

        Sounds encouraging. Thanks escargot3.

      2. FWIW, we love Perbacco and have never had anything less than a wonderful meal there . . . .

        1 Reply
        1. re: zin1953

          Thanks zin. Now I am really looking forward to going. Just made a reservation for November 20.

        2. >>Salsiccia Cruda (raw sausage of pork and veal) whch I have enjoyed in Italy and am ecstatic to see on a menu here in the States. Has anyone ever had it? What did you think? >>

          I had it a couple of years ago on our first visit to Perbacco, but I wasn't in love with the whole idea of raw sausage so for me it was so-so. Our friends raved about it however; they have made many trips to Italy and Perbacco is one of their favs. We are actually going there the same evening you are, at their request.

          OTOH, their sweetbreads hunter's style was phenomenal on a subsequent dinner. And the service at Perbacco is excellent. They are very well trained in timing meals, something that a lot of restaurants are a little sloppy about, especially for small plates dinners that require good coordination between kitchen and waitstaff. Their desserts falter a bit, however. Sometimes they're very good, and other times I wonder what the pastry chef was thinking, LOL.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jaiko

            "Their desserts falter a bit, however. Sometimes they're very good, and other times I wonder what the pastry chef was thinking, LOL."

            This seems to happen in many good restaurants. I used to be a huge dessert fan, but I find as I get older I either do not have room for dessert by the time that course is served or I just want a simple dessert.

            "We are actually going there the same evening you are, at their request. "

            Small world! And thanks for the review. The combination of wonderful food and winning service sounds like a great evening.

          2. Yes, that was one of the things I noted particularly about Commis/Oakland. The desserts were indifferent at best (one was a scheduled part of the pre fixe menu, the other a freebie).

            Dessert at Aziza/SF, however, should ALWAYS be kept in mind. Melissa Chou is an absolute genius! We had an amazing dinner there last Saturday, and desserts were the best part of all.

            I need to try Barbacco, Perbacco's sib next door. We don't get into the City very often these days, and one of our trusted sources likes Barbacco even better than Perbacco. The friend we are dining with, however, has tried both and prefers Perbacco, so since it's his turn to pay this year (this is an annual dinner for us to get together), he got to pick the restaurant, LOL.

            1 Reply
            1. re: jaiko

              I like both Perbacco and Barbacco. The menus are pretty different. Barbacco's very casual, kind of a wine-bar / upscale sports-bar atmosphere. Probably the best food of anywhere you can watch the game.

            2. One hour wait at Tadich last night, but we got 3 counter seats at Perbacco, with high hopes since Barbacco has been good.

              Beet salad. Decent

              Fritto Misto. Excellent

              Vitello Tonnato. Major FAIL. Just a tiny dollop of the tonnato sauce on top of good quality veal slices.But nothing like this dish is supposed to be: the mayonnaise-based spread totally across the plate and over the top of the meat. I think the sauce was OK, but there was so little, I couldn't really tell. Totally un-authentic.

              Beet Gnocchi. Good. OK tomatoey cream sauce.

              Braised Pork Shoulder. Good, standard San Francisco style braised meat over pureed potatoes.

              Zuppa de Pesce. Passable. More like a cioppino (which I generally avoid) with an aioli than the wonderful Italian fish soups that normally go by this name. Heavy with potatoes, light on the seafood.
              .
              While we were deciding on the dessert, the waiter comped us on an excellent hazelnut filled meringue cookie plate (whose name I lost) which was outstandingly wonderful.

              Except for the cookies and the fritto misto, nothing made me feel like I was anywhere near a true Italian sensibility in the kitchen - as one does at the two (admittedly grossly over priced) Farina places. If you sit at the counters at the Farina places, you see real, apparently fresh off the boat (plane) Italian chefs using traditional techniques for their pizzas and pastas.

              If I want California-Italian (which is great) will always head to Delfina. All in all too many misses to encourage us to return to Perbacco for either true Italian or Cal-Itallian.

              9 Replies
              1. re: Thomas Nash

                Thanks TN. I appreciate your honesty. We are sticking with our reservation though. Was the meal really that far removed from what you have eaten in Italy?

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  Certainly the zuppa de pesce was a continent and an ocean away from some of the most memorable meals of our lives. I still remember my new wife (many years ago) beaming over a bowl with langoustes and other crustaceans sticking out of the soup at a little place in Trestavere.

                  I guess I have seen gnocchi dishes like Perbacco's at lesser restaurants somewhere in Italy.

                  The fritto misto was reminiscent of meals in Venice as well as other good places here in SF.

                2. re: Thomas Nash

                  Ah, that's a shame about the Vitello Tonnato. Had it at Perbacco a couple of years ago and it was just as it should be, covered with the tonnato sauce which was delicious.

                  1. re: Thomas Nash

                    Wow, sounds like some kitchen trainee screwed up the vitello tonnato. We had that a couple of months ago and it was fantastic, best I've had outside of Italy. If you'd pointed it out to your server I'm sure they'd have fixed it.

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7949...

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Agreed. It's always been stunning . . .

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        That's a possible explanation, but isn't the role of the lead chef to act as gate keeper as dishes are passed out of the kitchen? I really hate to send dishes back or make a fuss in a restaurant. That adds a level of stress and unpleasantness that is just not consistent with my idea of fine dining.

                        My theory about the vitello tonnato was that they were catering to American low fat concerns and also wanted to show off what excellent quality veal they were using. This is a dish where the meat is totally invisible on the plate and you trust the restaurant to use the best quality meat, then discover this is true on taking a forkful of sublime meat and sauce. Since the presentation we got seems not to be typical, I guess your theory is a better one.

                        1. re: Thomas Nash

                          While Perbacco is not perfect, I really don't think they'd make decisions based on the notion of "catering to American low fat concerns." It just doesn't jive with their raison d'etre.

                          It's always hard for me to decide when it's appropriate to let the staff know I'm disappointed with a dish. But in this case, I think they'd want to know, and be quick not only to replace it, but also offer something gratis (dessert, a glass of wine, etc).

                      2. re: Thomas Nash

                        Of the dishes you mention I have only had the pork shoulder and fritto misto. While the pork is not mind blowing it is always well made and consistently good. That goes a long way as too often a kitchen is hit/miss with the same dish day-to-day. For me Perbacco is always well executed and consistent on both food and service. I used to love Delfina but it is cramped, expensive and the entrees always seem to be a fish, the chicken, the steak and one other rotating item that typically sells out by 8:30-9:00 PM. Has it changed?

                      3. I went in July for the first time, after several visits to Barbacco. I saw the Salsiccia Crudo on the menu and had to have it. We had a lot of good things that night, but the Crudo was probably the most exciting. Per jaiko's comment, it's not really just raw sausage. It's definitely cured, and more of a loose, soft salami. I really enjoyed it. Overall, while we enjoyed Perbacco, I think the food and atmosphere of Barbacco is a lot more fun, so I'll probably continue to make that my first choice.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: cravingcoppa

                          Thanks for the info cravingcoppa. I would guess in the US raw pork cannot be served. In Italy, the salsiccia crudo is definitely raw. Which restaurant would you suggest for a special occasion: Perbacco ot Barbacco?

                          1. re: ttoommyy

                            Perbacco is much more of a "special occasion" kind of place, both in terms of the pricing and atmosphere. Barbacco is noisier, the winelist is on iPads that clutter the table, and its cramped enough to hear the conversations of those jammed next to you. For those reasons, I actually prefer the bar seating if you're a party of two. That all said, it's still my favorite place in SF to share small plates.

                            1. re: hyperbowler

                              Thanks hyperbowler. We want the evening to be special, leisurely and not loud, so it seems like Perbacco is the place for us. I do like your suggestion of sitting at the bar at Barbacco; we love to sit at the bar at more casual places. I think you get much better service and we alwys enjoy ourselves at the bar. I'll keep that in mind for another night.

                          2. re: cravingcoppa

                            Salsiccia di Bra is traditionally eaten the day it's made. It's similar to beef tartare.