Presenting a sober front displaying black, brick-faced pilasters, a black, roughly-textured wall, and gridded windows trimmed in black, the façade of Bacco more closely resembles that of a warehouse rather than a fine-dining restaurant. When we entered last Friday evening, we found ourselves in a large dining room displaying a mid-tone hardwood floor and bare-stone walls and exposed ceiling beams painted white. Edison-style light bulbs hanging from the ceiling contributed to its industrial look. Industrial, too, were the dining tables with bare-metal tops.
The waitress invited us to take a table next to the window, where I had a view of the street and my partner a view of the room. While we studied the menu, the waiter brought us each a tiny bowl of Purée de chou-fleur, a thick, creamy-smooth cauliflower purée. Decorated with a single soybean sprout, a paper-thin slice of radish, and a leaf of coriander, this was a delicious bite with which to begin our meal.
We ordered apéritifs à l’italien. Mine was a Bellini, a glass of Prosecco flavored with peach liqueur. I found it to be bittersweet and refreshing. My partner ordered a Rossini, a Prosecco flavored with strawberry. This was sweeter, but equally refreshing.
We each decided to order the same starter. Called Le Mille-feuille, it was a dish displaying three thick cubes made from layers of red bell-pepper, eggplant, and zucchini. Each cube was separated by a generous slice of buffalo mozzarella and garnished with a rocket leaf and a swathe of pesto. The dish, served chilled, was delicious — the vegetable combination was succulent and flavorful and the accompanying mozzarella was moist and creamy.
When the waitress announced the dish of the day — Zuppa di fregola aux fruits de mer — my partner suggested that I try that, and I was glad that I did. A Sardinian dish, it was a bowl containing tiny balls of semolina dough that had been toasted in the oven and then prepared in tomato sauce with giant prawns, mussels, and slices of squid. More than a zuppa (soup), it was a thick, flavorsome, seafood stew. I found that the flavor and texture of the fregola (the tiny balls of semolina dough) compared favorably with the flavor and texture of barley.
My partner opted for Le Quasi de veau, two cuts of veal that were cooked pink in a hazelnut crust. They were served with chanterelle mushrooms and crispy fingers of risotto made with Pecorino cheese. Accompanied with young carrots, Jerusalem artichoke purée, and snow peas, it was a superb dish. She savored every bite!
Fresh, thinly-cut baguette was served alongside in a metal bowl.
For the beverage accompaniment, I ordered Birra Moretti, a clear, pale Italian beer. I was disappointed that it didn’t have the hearty flavor that I look for in a beer. I’ve found that corn-based beers, as this one was, aren’t very flavorful. My partner ordered a glass of Rafaèl Valpolicella 2012. A medium-bodied, slightly-peppery red, it went very well with both her starter and main course.
For dessert, I sprung for Le Baba limoncello, a small yeast cake cut into four pieces and imbibed with limoncello, a lemon liqueur. Served with yuzu-flavored pastry cream and yuzu-flavored sorbet, it was a powerful finish to a great meal!
My partner opted for Le tiramisu and received a shallow, wide-brimmed bowl containing a coffee- and Amaretto-soaked portion of financier (sponge cake). Topped with a mountain of mascarpone and dusted with powdered cocoa, it was an absolute delight!
The servers who waited on us were friendly and helpful. The waitress who advised us on the Zuppa di fregola told us that she was from Sardinia. She spoke French with a wonderful Italian accent.
The restaurant filled with customers by about 8:30 p.m. and, because there are no curtains or carpets to absorb sound, the room became quite noisy with conversation. While we dined, jazz played over the sound system, competing with the clamor of conversation.
The bill for two, including two apéritifs, two glasses of wine, one beer, two starters, two main courses, and two desserts, came to 148€. It was quite a splurge, but a wonderful dinner!
Travelers to Paris seeking innovative cuisine that combines elements of both French and Italian cooking will enjoy dining at Bacco
13, rue Mademoiselle
Métro station: Commerce (Line 8)
Type of cuisine: Franco-Italian
Days & hours of operation: Mon 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Tues to Sat noon – 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Credit card: Mastercard, Visa, American Express