Setting a High Bar – Bar Cotto

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Dining with Nutkin and the She-Nutkin, we decided to try Bar Cotto, yet another Ethan Stowell restaurant. This one is a pizza and salumeria (cured meats) restaurant. It’s located right next to his other restaurant, Olives and Anchovies, and on a Thursday night was rather empty.  As this is a pizza and salumi restaurant, we ordered exactly that:

The salumi plate:
– Spicy coppa: flavorful with a hint of fire, the milder version of a sopresetta
– Petit Jesu: a hunk of cured meat that’s the size of the baby Jesus, delicious and hard to find in most places!!!
– Mangalitsa Lardo: back fat, and I’m not kidding.  It melts between your fingertips, but it’s sliced so thinly that you won’t find it too rich
– Torta Frittas – little pillows of fried pizza dough crust, perfect for wrapping for stuffing your cured meats in.  For 3 cured meats, you’ll need two orders of these. I’m not sure if they have bread to go with the salumis…

Kale gratin – our attempt at vegetables, which was really a cheese dish; think kale dip instead of a spinache dip, except with much better cheese (percorino), the kale has just enough texture and bitterness to stand up to the gooey cheese

roasted pork belly bruschetta – with caramelized onions and fennel; it must be fennel season…  pork belly seemed a little dry and this is a mess to eat as everything will fall off the crostinni; it is also very sweet with a pickled flavor to it, kind of a miss in my opinion

porchetta pizza – with nettle pesto and chili; the crust is very similar to a pagliacci’s crust, bubbly, crispy on the outside with a medium crust and a nice chew (my personal favorite type of crust), the chili is subtle, the pesto adds a bit of balance to the meatiness of the porchetta (despite how thinly sliced that porchetta is, you can taste its flavor through all the ingrediants and the crust). It’s different, and it’s way better than Serious Pie (fighting words, I know).

affegato espresso gelato with cocoa nibs – YES! they pour a shot of espresso over your gelato – you can’t go wrong, add in cocoa nibs to simulate less bitter coffee beans and give it crunchy texture to counter the smoothness of the ice cream. Slurp up all the melty stuff in the bowl afterwards – I dare you!

I liked Bar Cotto a lot.  It was simple, but it had such strong flavors withouth being too rich.  Plus, it wasn’t a madhouse and I could actually hear my dinner companions, which is unusual in a Ethan Stowell restaurant (he generally likes unfinished ceilings and lively atmosphere).  There’s a lot more Salumi on the menu that I need to try, so I will be back!

Overall: happily ever after
Highlights: salumi, pizza
Footnotes: the waitress was very knowledgable about the different types of salumis and describing their flavor without a bit of pretention – don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know; they didn’t carry jabon iberico for those of you who obsess over that type of cured meat – this is mostly italian, not spanish

Bar Cotto on Urbanspoon

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