230 California St
San Francisco, CA 94111
Dining date: 12/23/13
Perbacco has been open for some time now (2006) but this was my first visit. For a number of years, I kept hearing good things about the restaurant but it never quite made it high enough on the list to actually go. On my most recent trip up to San Francisco for the holidays, I finally made the trip to the popular Italian restaurant. I’m glad I did.
Perbacco strives for a balance between traditional Italian and modern influences. No pizza here, but the menu is made up of a good number of salumi, appetizers, pastas and main courses. Between my mother, brother and I (dad was working late), we ordered a couple of appetizers but honed in on the pastas and mains.
Breadsticks salsa verde
Perbacco! ketel one citron, amaretto di saronno, meyer lemon
Fritto Misto of Rock Shrimp seasonal beans, olives, fennel, lemon aioli
Hot and juicy pieces of shrimp, green beans, olives and onions were fried with a light and crispy batter. Loved the shrimp which were perfect, as well as the thin slices of fried lemon which provided nice crunch and a bright citrus flavor.
Piastra Roasted Octopus olive oil crushed potatoes, celery heart, salsa verde
The octopus was cooked to a tender, snappy consistency with a slight smokiness. Creamy warm potatoes, crisp bits of celery and a zesty salsa verde made for some delicious bites.
Coujette occitaine potato gnocchi, devil’s gulch rabbit and chestnut ragu, roasted radicchio
The gnocchi were on the large side, but still light and airy, bathed in a rich and hearty ragu. Moist chunks of rabbit were paired with the sweet, earthy chestnuts for good effect.
Tajarin handcut tagliatelle, 5 hour pork and porcini mushroom sugo
The thin strands of pasta resembled packaged ramen only in appearance, showing off a nice bite. The meaty pork ragu was tasty too, though not as dynamic flavor-wise as the rest of our pastas.
Pappardelle wide pasta ribbons, slow cooked short rib ragu, grated horseradish
The short rib was delicious – rich, tender and full of flavor. The horseradish was so subtle it was hard to tell it was there, but that hardly took away from the overall dish. Ribbons of pappardelle maintained an addicting chew throughout.
With the completion of the pastas, we moved on to the main courses.
Liberty Farm Duck Breast roasted bartlett pears, braised kale, roasted baby turnips, mustard
The duck breast was tender and cooked beautifully, although we found it a touch on the dry side. Sweet roasted pears were a welcome accompaniment, as was the hearty braised kale.
Wolfe Ranch Quail Breast filled with Wild Mushrooms potato puree, chard, black chanterelle jus
This was excellent. Deboned and rolled around a filling, the quail was moist, juicy and so succulent. Very flavorful. The potato puree was great too, as was the chanterelle jus to add just that much more depth to each bite.
Cunij braised devil’s gulch rabbit, roasted butternut squash, green apple, chestnut polenta
A sticky, savory glaze smothered the tender pieces of rabbit. It was cooked pretty well, while the root vegetables and unique chestnut polenta provided some sweet, earthy flavors.
Burnt Caramel Gelato tahitian vanilla sea salt, pignoli cookie
Feeling fairly stuffed, we split this one simple dessert. A deep, rich caramel flavor was found in each bite, while little flecks of the Tahitian sea salt packed a punch. Very good.
Pistachio and Gianduja Mignardises
I thoroughly enjoyed this meal at Perbacco. The food felt comfortable and homey, yet was unique enough to keep things interesting. While favorites were found in each course, the stuffed quail stood out as one of the best things I ate in 2013. Service was spot-on too, making this a very strong complete experience. I’d be hard-pressed to choose a favorite upscale Italian spot in San Francisco, but Perbacco would be in the consideration (Delfina, Flour + Water, & Locanda also come to mind).