Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Buon Cibo at Bar Bambino

Cousin MC2 and I happily tucked into a medley of wonderfully prepared dishes at Bar Bambino in the Mission a couple of weeks ago. It was our first time there. I had bypassed this Italian wine bar and restaurant over the years because I'd heard mixed reviews. But recently, a trusted source gave it a resounding rave. So, we gave it a go. And we loved almost everything that came out of the kitchen ...

The lovely spread of cured meats—from prosciutto to spicy salami—whet our appetites for what was to come.

God, I love peas. This from a gal who used to gag at the grainy texture when I was kid. Well, no longer. After a tap or two of the salt shaker, the creamy richness of Bar Bambino's spring pea puree touched with mint was to-die-for. The only tiny negative: Some cook had rubbed the raw garlic into the bruschetta with a bit too much vim and vigor.

My trusted source had warned me against the octopus and yet we went there. We figured, maybe it had been a bad day in the kitchen when she'd had the eight-armed beast. But no, trusted source was right. Chewy and slightly underseasoned octopod is not ideal—I'd say braising and then grilling the thing had really killed it. But heck, the balsamico dressing basting the meat and chicory salad gave it all a sweet tartness that we could and did appreciate.

Bar Bambino really rises to the occasion when it comes to pasta. That day's special braised rabbit was perfectly seasoned, the gnocchi just the right texture—airy pillows that practically floated into your mouth. MC2 doesn't care much for the wily wabbit, and yet she really went for this dish.

Our fave was the trofie—long, skinny spirals of eggless pasta—bathed in a luscious, creamy sauce laden with Parmiggiano-Reggiano and house-made sausage. We both readily agreed we could eat this every day ... as we scraped the plate clean. But it's probably a good thing that we can't—or else we'd be packing on the pounds.

We finished off the night with a moist polenta cake accompanied by a tangy citrus compote and sweet orange butter. Thanks, MC2, for celebrating my day with me!

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