Il Bacaro: When in Rome …
Apr 1 2010
Sometimes the best decisions are made on the fly. Like, choosing where to dine on a Saturday night. Or securing a rare on-street car park in Melbourne’s Lt Collins St and deciding that the Italian place across the road is just the place to chow down.
When I stepped into Il Bacaro, I saw a cosy restaurant filled with diners – and seemingly little chance of securing a table. Listed in the Australian Good Food Guide as a premium cut on Victoria’s restaurant menu, this was hardly a surprise. What was a surprise was that we couldn’t have planned the night better if we tried – settling for a place at the bar offered one of the best first-time dining experiences I’ve had in some time.Il Bacaro Cucina & Bar
168–170 Lt Collins St, Melbourne, VIC
Il Bacaro shares similar traits with other restaurants I’ve dined at lately. It has the charisma of Caffe e Cucina and, with its dominant bar, a layout not dissimilar to the distinctly un-Italian Movida Next Door. Even seated at the bar (my posture perfect so as to allow waiters to slip past, through to the kitchen), it felt very pleasant to be here in this stylish, dimly lit eatery that oozed of class.
The best part of the night, aside from the food, was our bartender-slash-waiter (BSW), a quirky yet knowledgeable bundle of energy. After expressing faux outrage that I might only have one glass of wine, he selected a white wine that would go perfectly with our Calamari St Andrea entrée. The wine and calamari were both excellent, the latter a dish that matched the quality of its counterpart over at Caffe e Cucina – light and tender with just enough bite, resting on a leafy bed of rocket.
My main was ordered with trepidation: I was intrigued by the ‘deer ragu’ orecchiette special yet plagued by a serious case of the Bambi’s. As the entrée-sized dish was placed in front of me, my carnivore instincts kicked in, for it looked as beautiful as it tasted in the dim light: a divine mixture of savoury and sweet, with added broccolini crunch and raisin sweetness. My red wine, selected by the BSW, was silky smooth and was almost too inoffensive upon first sip. By the time I’d finished with the orrechette, I would have been happy with more of both.
The BSW capitalised on my need for greed, signalling that dessert was on offer. ’The pannacotta or the semifreddo’, he recommended slyly, kneeling down by the fridge. We opted for the latter. It was decadent, it was creamy, it was mango-ey, it was shared between two, and it was demolished quicker than you could spell S-E-M-I-F-R-E-D-D-O. Yum.
One chef’s hat, two thumbs up. If you feel like dining at Il Bacaro, I’d suggest you book in advance. That said, if you are feeling indecisive and find yourself wandering down Lt Collins St one night, you might just get lucky.