Thursday, August 28, 2008

Perbacco Cafe

A fully packed restaurant on a Tuesday night at 9 pm is normally a great sign. That is, until you realize there are no open spots left for you to dine. For some reason, earlier in the week, I have a lower tolerance for waiting at restaurants. I typically think of Mondays and Tuesdays as "my early" nights - and so it was rare for me to be eating out so late this past Tuesday. But, finding it close to impossible to turn down lychee martinis to celebrate a friend's birthday earlier in the night, my friend and I opted for a later dinner - and at a spot where we thought we could breeze right into. Had it been a month earlier, I am sure we would not have had a problem.

I now remember my sister had told me about Perbacco about a year or so ago - raving about another great Italian spot in the east village. Knowing that there are so many great options downtown, I never managed to make it there - and actually forgot about it. It was not until about a month ago, in my daily NY Times Urbaneye update, that Perbacco reappeared in my life - headlining the food blurb. I immediately remembered the unique name and that it was one of the many restaurants that had somehow managed to fall off of my MUST GO TO list. And, without much thought, Perbacco jumped right back onto the top of my current list. I should have known that my list would not be the only one that Perbacco would now top. The one nice thing about the wait (besides the fact that the restaurant was full of very happy diners) was that they said 15 minutes and seated us within 10 - always best to overestimate when hungry new yorkers are involved. And, as soon as we were seated, the smell of the food and the adorable, european cafe setting immediately made us forget the actual time and even the place- we definitely could have been lost somewhere in Italy.

It was enough knowing that Perbacco had received positive accolades from both my sister and the NY Times, and so I actually had opted not to read the review - hoping to form my own opinion upon dining. In retrospect, I wish I had. My one complaint (besides the wait) was the endless menu. No matter what time of night it is, I do not have the patience to read through infinite options whose descriptions all make my mouth water. Not really knowing where to begin, we decided to put most of our trust in our waiter who ended up being a great guide. Although, either he has an affinity for cheese or the entire menu is made up of cheese, because we definitely had our fair share of cheese that night! Being the cheese lover that I am, that was a great thing. We shared 3 small plates (the traditional "little appetizers" that Perbacco is designed around which range $7-12) and one pasta ($12-15). These included parmesan cheese creme brulee served with balsamic vinegar, grilled zucchini stuffed with ricotta and pine nuts served with a basil sorbet, bresaola (air cured beef) with thinly sliced tomatoes and parmesan crisps (one of the nightly specials), and homemade basil ravioli stuffed with tomatoes, marscapone, and mozzarella. All were delicious and unique in their own way; but, without a doubt, the cheese creme brulee was the winner. It looked exactly like the dessert, but tasted like the perfect appetizer. We completely devoured the dish and I decided to photograph it since I have never seen a cheese dish like it. This prompted me to now take a picture of the most unique aspect of every restaurant I visit and include it in each post. Given its short lifespan, the cheese brulee was definitely worth capturing on film.

I hope that this picture doesn't make your mouth water too much! But, rather, I hope that it sends you down to get in line in the East Village. While Perbacco is no longer undiscovered, I will share these secrets with you - study the menu before you go and be prepared for a wait - both will be well worth your time!

Perbacco Cafe
234 E 4th St (between A and B)
New York, NY 10009
Phone: (212) 253-2038


Carrie said...

Oooh - 2 of my favorite things! Cheese and creme brulee! Can't wait to go back to Perbacco and try!

Kristin (The Pearl Onion) said...

This looks like a great place! And I agree, using the waiter as a guide for the best dishes is always the best way. A good restaurant should have their waiters trained to do this well. Oh how I love food...I must go eat now. :-)

Lela said...

eek! this entry is perfection! can't wait to see where the hungry roach goes next! xox

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