restaurants
Perbacco
234 East 4th Street
212 253 2038

Anyone who's ever complained about chefs not understanding 'medium rare' or flaky restaurant reservationists; this spot is for you. A tiny house of exactness; don't let the rustic single-room of Perbacco fool you. Despite the neighbourhoody feel of the books on the shelves, heavy salvage-wood style tables and the tiny bar, this Italian spot is run on tight execution. A filet of beef with Parmesan mousseline and chips, balsamic vinegar reduction,and arugola pesto is perfectly medium rare. Homemade Kamut wheat tagliolini in EVO oil, cherry tomato, black olives and garlic sauce, in basil pesto topped with ricotta salata, is perfectly al dente. Perfectly. In fact, despite reviews over the years about quirky food, antipasti are satisfying with no surprises. Arancini turn up in a folded paper cone with standard marinara dipping sauce and polpette veal meatballs are just like Grandma might make, both exactly as expected. While plates such as these are deftly executed, the two winning dishes are frutti di mare risotto, a delightfully, slightly- soupy "Acquerello" (1 year aged Carnaroli rice) in a lobster bisque; and the seasonal peach salad, a variation on the traditional pear and gorgonzola, done instead with a tower of ripe, juicy peaches in a balsamic, crumbly cheese mixture. The deliciousness of these two offerings is almost enough to offset the one downside of all this exactingness: a hecticness by management about table times and reservations. You make your booking and they check it twice might be the motto of all the scurrying. So don't be late, don't bring extra guests; someone else may need their risotto fix as well!

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