Well this was a first. I've had Northern Italian, I've had Southern Italian, but I've never had Weird Italian. I don't mean this in a bad way. I think a lot of things are weird (like myself), but weird can be surprisingly refreshing. This kind of sums up my experience at Perbacco last night.
I took Alexis again because all things food and drink form the foundation of our friendship. Well, that and harmonizing 90's rap songs on public transportation. But I digress. So we sat down in the dark, wood-laden, intimate space on East 4th street and had a few glasses of wine; Montepulciano for her, Chianti for me. There were a few things on the menu that looked normal (eggplant parmigiana terrine, antipasti, arancini) and then a few things that looked…weird. What is "Carbonara"? Well, normally a heavy, creamy (delicious) pasta dish with egg, bacon, and fettucine. This was a deconstructed carbonara, if you will. A fried spaghetti disk with guanciale, poached egg and a scoop of cheese. You can pile it all on top of the spaghetti disk and eat it like a crostini (which is what we did) or in the waiter's words, "just go and make a mess."
It was weird, but surprisingly tasty. And I've always wanted to say this but never had the opportunity until now: it was a symphony of textures. I would never say something like that in a serious conversation (at least not without a pipe hanging out of my mouth and a top hat on), but it kind of fits. Warning: this is a very soft poached egg, so if you're grossed out by runny egg whites, then perhaps you want to steer clear or ask them to poach it a little longer.
"Carbonara" eaten like a crostini…mmm…
Another weird thing on the menu caught Alexis' eye: Creme Brulee di Parmigiano Reggiano. I'm actually not a huge fan of creme brulee for dessert, but a creme brulee of cheese?? Don't mind if I do. It was so creamy and had that amazing salty bite that makes parmigiano reggiano one of my favorite cheeses. I actually keep a block of it in my fridge because when I crave something salty, I just break off a few pieces. It's totally normal. I guess my weirdness fits in well with this place…
For our entrees, we decided to go halvsies on some pasta and some poultry. I got the Il Galletto, which was a chicken thigh stuffed with foie gras, a marinated chicken breast, sauteed spinach and potatoes. The chicken stuffed with foie gras was very tender, albeit a bit salty and fatty for my taste. The regular marinated chicken was better. The pasta was Alexis' choice, and a good one at that – the Rosette allo Speck e Bufala. It was Emilian pasta rolled into a "rosette" with buffalo mozzarella and speck in a zabajone truffle sauce. Can you ever go wrong with pasta and truffle sauce? I don't think so. The pasta was perfectly cooked, and the combination of speck, truffles and cheese was very rich, but delicious. If I had eaten that whole bowl by myself, I probably would not move for a little while. This is why it's wise to split pasta.
Il Galletto – chicken thigh stuffed with foie gras
Another reason why? More room for dessert. Alexis, as most of you dedicated readers know, doesn't like chocolate. She's dumb. Fortunately though, she let me have this one because it sounded so weird. Again with the weird. It was a Hamburger di Cioccolata, or a chocolate hamburger. Hmm. I assumed it was a chocolate disk of sorts with pound cake or something as the bun..but I didn't expect THIS (see below). It really was a mindfuck eating this because if someone had put that down in front of me, I would have sunk my teeth into it expecting the savory flavor of beef, peppers, and onions; not chocolate mousse, salted apples, and angel food cake. So weird! But so good! I was confused, but I liked it. I'd definitely come back to Perbacco – it was a nice date place and the food, collectively, was pretty solid. Was it a little weird? Yes, but I like weird. And weird knows no better home than New York City.
Doesn't that look like a burger with peppers?! Love it.