Do you know where you were conceived? San Francisco is my special city. It’s America’s foodie hotspot and location of a romantic getaway taken by my parents twenty-six years ago.
Ironically, it’s also where I recently fell in love. The object of my affection: Perbacco Ristorante + Bar, located at 230 California Street. Though on a flat road in the Financial District, it’s worth a trek up the city’s steepest hill in your most uncomfortable shoes.
There’s one thing I love more than my mother and that’s sashimi. Perbacco’s sweet and savory ‘crudo’ (translation: raw) was an easy first course choice:
The translucent local halibut was served on a slate with morel mushrooms, bright green fava beans, leek ash vinaigrette, and a sweet bottarga crema. Its artistic appeal surpassed everything I viewed at The MoMA.
The second course rivaled a Vancouver favorite: Glowbal Group’s Lemon and Caper Roasted Brussel Sprouts, created by Ryan Gauthier. I hope to someday judge a ‘side dish-off’ between him and Perbacco Chef Staffan Terje, whose variety is made with brown sugar, capers, shallots, and world-famous Parmigiano Reggiano:
Observing my passion for the green spherical veggies, Staffan reappeared with this second platter from Barbacco, his sister restaurant next door. They were fried in duck fat, tossed with marinated chili peppers, and sprinkled with Maldon Salt, but otherwise similar. Oy. If their fat content wasn’t a recipe for death itself, I would’ve instantly died for them.
Now onto the brilliant main courses. First up, Roasted Wolfe Ranch Quail Breast:
The minute I saw foie gras listed in this item’s description, I stopped reading. Fantastically, the smooth, delectable substance was mixed with wild mushrooms, cream, slow cooked quail meat (tastier and oilier than chicken), wrapped with Swiss chard, then cooked just enough to crisp the skin. Sitting in its natural jus, it was heaven.
Also on the table, Cunij Al Sive – Devil’s Gulch rabbit cooked with spiced red wine sauce and polenta:
Tender childhood pet rabbit memories couldn’t have spoiled this succulent experience. The rich gravy-like sauce, South Carolina polenta, and Cavalo nero (Tuscan kale) were perfect accompaniments.
I love a man who insists on dessert. After refusing the last course (the brussel sprouts had satisfied every craving – sweet and savory – I could have possibly endured), Staffan delivered this 1” x 1” bite of rhubard jelly atop creme fraiche. The perfect end to a perfect meal.
Coast Executive Chef Josh Wolfe is to thank for the discovery of Perbacco, arguably San Francisco’s best Italian ristorante. The exceptional dining he and Glowbal Group co-workers experienced a year ago had made an impression.
Vancouver left its mark on Venice-born Perbacco owner Umberto Gibin, as well. Many years ago while visiting on a romantic conquest, he accidentally left his money-filled wallet in a cab. A kind stranger sought him out and returned it, allowing the trip to flourish. As fond as his memory may be, there’s no way it matches the warm feelings I have towards Perbacco and their brussel sprouts.
The Perbacco team’s favorite Vancouver eateries: Glowbal and Vij’s. My favorite San Francisco restaurant: can you guess? I look forward to visiting my new friends every time I return to my special city. You should make the trip, too.
From left to right: Owner Umberto Gibin, myself, Owner & Chef Staffan Terje, and Wine Director Mauro Cirilli (far right: Mr. Smiley).