There is nothing quite as satisfying as a delicious meal after a long drive. When you start your vacation with hand held nodules of culinary blasphemy known as McGriddles, your next dining experience can only go one way, up. While driving up the beautiful and inspiring Pacific Coast Highway I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I spent a good amount of time surfing the web looking for a good place to eat upon our arrival in San Francisco.
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It actually wasn't a complicated process, as the top thread on Chowhound SF was entitled "Perbacco, go there now!." After checking in to our hotel, I made a reservation, albeit 30 minutes later than I was shooting for, at Perbacco. We caught a taxi to the barely three month old establishment on Cal and Front and were greeted with a warm handshake by the friendly host, who sat us in a comfortable corner booth.
Our server, Franco, was cordial, charismatic and quite Italian and thus able to execute perfect pronunciation on each and every menu item, while both Penelope and I, speaking only Spanish and English, faked it as best we could. We started with a quarter liter of Sauvignon Blanc to compliment an order of Scallops Crudo, which were coated in olive oil intermixed with Meyer Lemon zest, sliced Serrano peppers and daikon sprouts.
Our second course, accompanied by a half liter of Barbaresco, was a half-order or the Salumi Misti, which consisted of a delicious sextet of cured pork products including two varieties of salami, blogna, proscuitto, imported lonza and ciccioli, which basically makes me the worst Jew ever. The pork parade was presented with gherkins, crackers and breadsticks and was exceptionally delicious.
For our next course we split a pear and endive salad, thick with a rich chestnut honey dressing, toasted hazelnuts and a pungent triangle of gorgonzola. I'm glad we ended up sharing the salad, as it was quite decadent, and perfectly proportioned when conveniently split by our server.
For the main course, Penelope had the butternut squash Mezzelune and I had the Pork Shoulder. My entree was accompanied by the richest polenta ever, which much have had an entire stick of butter mixed in to the quarter cup of polenta on my plate, which defies probability, and most likely possibility, but nevertheless was a supersaturated polenta which could have been used to make rock butter.
During our meal I couldn't help to notice that the family next to us seemed to be the most popular trio in the restaurant, and my suspicions where confirmed when I asked Marco if we were sitting next to the owner. I introduced myself and mentioned the good buzz going on Chowhound about his restaurant, to which he responded that Chowhound was too kind to them. I noted that we drove up from Los Angeles that day and heard about his establishment on the internet during our drive. His wife and daughter said there were from LA and I told them that we live in Downtown, a block from Skid Row, and they mentioned their aunt was a fan and supporter of the Downtown revival.
After our meal we opted for the cheese plate, and allowed Marco to make our choices for us, within the constraints of 2 soft and 1 hard cheese. I failed to note the exact types of cheese we were presented with, but they were damn good, and we ate them up with the included bread, marconi almonds, raisins and honey. We washed the cheese down with a 20 year old Dow Tawny and a 27 year old Graham.
Our meal was delicious, the atmosphere was warm and friendly and the service was excellent. Sitting next to and meeting the owner was a nice perk and we have added Perbacco to our list of establishments that will receive our repeat patronage on our next trip to the Bay.