First things first, I suppose. I’ll tell you about Europe eventually—but after all this build-up, it’s sure to be a snooze for you. Anyway, I feel compelled to provide some “news you can use” that’s a bit closer to home. Let’s start with Bar Bambino.
Now, I may complain incessantly about my work and travel schedule, but my job does have some lovely side benefits. Client dinners are a prime example. We usually get to go somewhere hip and cool—our reputation as leaders of cultural smartypantsedness is on the line with every reservation. Most recently, we hit Bar Bambino, a new favorite amongst the magic makers of the company. (Read: the boys of Biz Dev.)
Bar Bambino proved to be every bit as adorable as its name. If the restaurant had cheeks, you’d want to squeeze them as you grit your teeth. I love the scale of it—narrow and intimate without being claustrophobic. We were seated in the back, in a room with a large, wooden table, right before the entrance to the rear patio area. It was a nice place to dine, shielded from the hustle and bustle of the front room.
The servers were fantastic from the get-go. We arrived well before our clients, and our waiter wasn’t shy about letting the wine flow early. We had a set menu for the group, which was served family style. Since the restaurant was forewarned, there was plenty for us vegetarians to enjoy. Becky, our rockstar waitress, gave me a word of warning, however. She noted that several of my veggie brethren have complained about hidden meat on the regular menu—undisclosed animal products in seemingly innocuous fare. So make sure you ask if a dish is vegetarian, even if meat isn’t a listed item in the description.
The antipasto was warm, roasted olives with assorted breads, plus a Baked Tomino with Prosciutto. I’m not picky and I’m not proud, y’all. I found myself a nice hunk of Tomino that hadn’t touched Prosciutto and chowed down. Disgraceful, I know, but Mamma loves her cheese. You gotta do what you gotta do. It tasted like a coronary waiting to happen. In other words, delicious.
The insalate course included a Roasted Beet Salad with Arugula, Hazelnuts, and Goat Cheese, plus a Caprese with Heirloom Tomatoes. The beets were nice, but kind of uninspired. The Caprese, on the other hand, was juicy heaven on a plate, with just the right amount of salt. Still, it’s hard to fuck up a decent Heirloom. It’s more a matter of picking them than preparing them. They’re perfectly fantastic without any help at all.
Then, a Di Capri bruschette, with a Stew of Zucchini, Tomatoes and Mozzarella. A bit too salty, but good. The other veggie option was a panini of Roasted Vegetables and Goat Cheese. It felt a little redundant, but still made me happy.
Of course, I wanted to cry when the piatti arrived. It was a roasted cauliflower dish that was all full of pancetta. See, roasted cauliflower is one of my favorite things on earth. I watched it get dished up with sad puppy dog eyes, as if pouting would make the meat go away. (It didn’t.) I made due with the Spaghetti Pomodoro—which was deftly prepared—and two side dishes. Garlic Roasted Potatoes and Sautéed Seasonal Greens. The potatoes reminded me of home fries, and kinda tipped the scales to Carb Overload. I guess I’m not in the habit of eating pasta and potatoes in the same course any more. (Remember what life was like before the Great Carb Scare of ’03? Sigh. Good times.) The greens were a perfect complement, however. In fact, we ordered more than they’d originally allotted our table.
Dessert, though…dessert stole my heart. We had a choice between an Olive Oil Cake with Grilled Stone Fruit and a Vanilla Gelato with Amarena Cherries. I had to go with the cake. I mean, it’s two of the best things on the planet in one—olive oil and cake. OLIVE OIL AND CAKE, people. And let me tell you, it was phenomenal. The key? Sea salt. Zesty little gems sprinkled across the top that turned a good cake into a great one. The salt was a revelation.
All in all, a pretty nice meal. And beyond that, I’m rooting for Bar Bambino. I dunno. The place just feels nice. I want them to win. They took a chance on a sketchy location, and they’re totally making it work. Way to go, Double B.