One of our favorite Italian restaurants in San Francisco. Perbacco is a popular Italian restaurant in San Francisco’s financial district that opened in 2006. We had been to their sister restaurant next door Barbacco recently, and felt it was high time that we came back to Perbacco. Chef Staffan Terje focuses on Piemontese, Ligurian, and Venetian regional Italian dishes. “Perbacco” translated is an Italian word to accentuate positive comments. Our last visit was at the end of 2018.
Decor, Vibe – Perbacco has a clean and modern feel with exposed brick, with white marble bar counters and floor tiles. Bar seating as well as dining areas on the main floor and on the smaller second floor. Jazzy tunes, mirrors extending around, Open kitchen in the rear. The restaurant was packed when we visited on a Saturday with couples out on the town to families to tourists to friends getting together. Definitely an older crowd here, this is not The Mission!
Perbacco’s Menu has a variety of appetizers including many vegetarian selections. They have pasta dishes available in appetizer and entrée sizes. Great for sampling. Main dishes cover a wide swath of foods. They were even capable of serving some Barbacco dishes. The menu changes almost daily.
Signature Dishes – Salumi, the Tajarin, Rabaton, agnolotti dal plin, milk-braised pork shoulder, Bollito Misto, short rib stracotto
Perbacco Food Picks:
Home made Breadsticks with dipping sauce were a temptation we had to set a limit with. In 2018 they switched to large rolls and even could make fresh gluten free ones.
Fragolino ($11) was a fruity cocktail with strong Prosecco accents. The alcohol was pretty mild in this drink. Nice topping of candied strawberries.
Mojito ($10) was perfectly executed, strong and balanced. They know how to make cocktails here.
Heirloom Tomato Salad / Herbs / Black Olive Condimento / Green Fennel Seed Vinaigrette ($11) is an excellent salad with very fresh, high-quality heirloom tomatoes. This dish included 3 to 4 different types of tomatoes covered with a light dressing.
Pear and Persimmon Salad ($16) gorgonzola crema / pear balsamico / langhe hazelnuts was excellent. Refreshing, contrasting flavors with sweet, bitter, and savory.
Soup winter squash passato ($13) brown butter / sage / amaretti crumbs also hit the mark with lots of balanced squash flavor.
Piastra Roasted Octopus / Olive Oil Crushed Potatoes / Veal Tongue / Ramps / Salsa Verde ($14) was very good with 4 good sized pieces of charred but tender octopus.
Roasted Formanova Beets / Horseradish Stracciatella / Iberico Ham / Cipolline Agrodolce ($13) was conservative on the amount of tasty beets served. The ham slice very thin and made a nice combination with the beets and the cheese.
Burrata Cheese / Local Asparagus / Citrus Vinaigrette / Shaved Radishes ($12) possessed extremely creamy and smooth mozzarella cheese with some super fresh asparagus. Excellent.
Dandelion Salad / Brooks Cherries / Mangalitza Lardo / Toasted Ground Hazelnuts ($10) was an interesting salad with extremely bitter dandelion leaves that were perfectly balanced out by the sweet cherries.
Tajarin – Handcut Tagliatelle / 5 Hour Pork Sugo / Porcini Mushrooms ($19 appetizer size) was a thin egg-based spaghetti-like pasta with an excellent meat sauce. The waitress said they freshly made pasta every day, starting at 5 AM. They can cook it more al dente like authentic Italian pasta if you ask.
Pappardelle – Wide Pasta Ribbons / Black Belly Lamb Ragu / Sweet Peas / Mint / Honey-Pepper Ricotta ($19 appetizer size) had top notch extra-wide al dente egg noodles with shreds of tender lamb. Slight sweet tint to the sauce. Perbacco’s major attribute is the variety of fresh pasta and sauces when compared to smaller restaurants.
Agnolotti Dal Plin – Pasta Filled With Roasted Vitellone And Savoy Cabbage / Sugo D‟Arrosto ($17 appetizer size) is their signature pasta and it proved the fantastic. A ravioli like pasta filled with bites of tender filling.
Orecchiette di gatti – “little ears” pasta / rossotti ranch veal sugo / brown butter chanterelle mushrooms ($14) was also cooked to a perfect al dente. The pasta was crisp and chewy. Sugo tasted like it was long boiled, just like Nona would do it. Fantastic.
Risotto – Heirloom Tomato / Young Torpedo Onions / Basil / Burrata Cheese ($14 appetizer size) was a vegetarian risotto filled with lots of chopped up veggies. A well-balanced pasta dish for everyone including vegetarians.
On another occasion we had the Local green asparagus, spring onion, castelmagno cheese risotto which was also very good, but very cheesy. Same attributes with the porcini mushroom risotto in 2014.
In 2018 we had a riso carnaroli di acquerello / braised black chanterelles / roasted sunchokes / smoked pancetta / parmigiano reggiano ($25 entree size) which was very cheesy and rich.
Roasted fig’s / radicchio / young onion / speck / blu di langa risotto was very interesting. A sweet – savory combination.
Beef Short Rib Stracotto / Bone Marrow Crust / Chantenay Carrot Purée / Roasted Cipolline ($24) is another signature dish that deserves this designation. An extremely hearty dish filled with tender short rib, topped off with a nice crust and some super fresh tiny mushrooms.
Slow roasted pancetta wrapped pork loin filled with salsiccia / heirloom corn polenta / roasted beets ($27) was highly recommended by the waitress. Tender pork with a ton of flavor from the spices and a bit of smoke. Perfect for pork fans.
Local King Salmon/ Morel Mushroom And Spring Vegetable Ragout /Herb butter ($26) was a beautiful looking dish that also proved to be excellent. Very tender and fresh fish which was superior to one at Chapeau.
Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts brown butter / shallots / capers / parmigiano reggiano ($8) had a plate full of fresh brussels sprouts covered with lots of Parmesan cheese sprinkle. Strong deep flavors.
Fingerling potatoes roasted corbaci and shishito peppers / roasted young onion ($8) had crispy potatoes cooked just right.
Melon Sorbetto / Sage-Brown Butter Shortbread ($7) had a large scoop of refreshing homemade sorbet along with a nice piece of shortbread. A low-calorie way to finish off a meal.
Bay leaf Panna cotta, apricot sorbetto, Marcona almonds ($8) was smooth and rich, possessing a surprising amount of herbal flavor, but not enough to the overpowering. The sorbet was very good. Stone fruit sorbetto was also lite and superb.
Complementary very dark hazelnut chocolates and nougat rounded out the evening.
Pesce crudo – hamachi / buddah’s hand citron / taggiasca olive / anise hyssop ($15) seems to be on every menu in The City. This version was just ok, with the fish being a little too chunky.
Alaskan halibut / shellfish and heirloom tomato ragout / fennel /cranberry beans / saffron brodetto ($28) looked great but was overcooked.
Balsamic raspberry sorbetto($8) was overpowering.
Service – Perbacco was top notch with a very knowledgeable server who went above and beyond her duties to ensure our comfort. No worries about bread, refills, napkin folding, Etc
Value – Perbacco’s Prices are in line with restaurants of this caliber.
Verdict – Perbacco is one of the top Italian restaurants in San Francisco. Food quality was highe, service top notch, and atmosphere electric. We have no problems quickly recommending Perbacco for anyone looking for quality Italian food.
Extensive 21 page wine list, glasses from $8, bottles from $32, some 1/4L, 1/2L.