Due to open this Friday September 21st is BARBARA PINSERIA & COCKTAIL BAR in the former Panta Rei in North Beach from Il Casaro’s Francesco Covucci and Peter Fazio (they are also behind Pasta Pop-Up).
The approachable menu is veering more into a Roman-influenced direction, with California seasonality playing a strong part, too. I got a quick glance at a preview menu: there are antipasti like oxtail supplì, baccalà, and of course some artichokes to go along with that Roman theme. A variety of pastas will range from tagliatelle with ragù (two meats: veal and pork) to some Roman-influenced classics, like bucatini all’amatriciana (my favorite), cacio e pepe, and rigatoni alla carbonara. There’s also an interesting fusilli dish with mushrooms. Daily specials will be available too, like saltimbocca on Thursdays, and porchetta on Saturdays.
There’s a whole section of pinsas (not pizza), which come in an oblong shape, and anyone who is a Montesacro regular already knows the dough of this trending style of pizza is made of soy, rice, and wheat—it’s a lighter and easier-to-digest dough, and can have a nice crispness to it as well. Toppings will include one with truffled egg with smoked pancetta and red onion, and one of my favorite pizza toppings at Il Casaro (mortadella and pistachio) will be making its way over. Pastore Mennato is the consulting pinsa chef, with over 20 years of experience.
Just next door in the adjoining space is Barbara Express, which is where you’ll find a case full of teglia romana, the Roman-style pizza that is baked in a square pan and cut however large or small you want your slice(s) to be. Gabriele Bonci’s Pizzarium in Rome is the most famous spot—and Barbara will offer the first teglia romana in SF.
The dough is 85 percent water, and fermented for 48 hours (you should see the bubbles that form). It’s baked in an electric Cuppone oven in about three minutes, and has an airy crumb that is crisp and, good for us, can stand up to a variety of toppings. At Express, the teglia romana will be cut with scissors and sold by the ounce—toppings will change daily, ranging from sausage to carbonara, and then off you go. At the counter, you’ll also be able to order supplì, and espresso service in the morning with house-baked cornetti will be coming soon.
Another fun component to the entire operation is there’s a full bar, and Carlo Splendorini (Michael Mina, Pabu) is consulting on the bar program. Pull up a stool…
The light-filled space juts into a corner shaped not unlike a pizza slice, with 68 seats inside, and 40 outside on both sides of the building under the yellow awnings (let your seat choice follow the sun—Columbus or Stockton). The interior is clean and a bit industrial chic, with curving wood and metal chairs, both at high-top and regular-height tables, plus there’s a communal table. The bar features cheerful black and white tiles, and there’s some splash of oxblood red on the walls, and wallpaper is coming too. The artwork above the bar is from neighborhood honcho Jeremy Fish, and in case you were wondering about the name (and why “Barbara” is in neon), the name belonged to Covucci’s great-grandma, who was Roman.
The plan is to open this Friday, but confirm with their Instagram before heading over. Initial hours are Sun-Thu 11:30am-11pm, Fri-Sat 11:30am-12am, with brunch launching soon. 431 Columbus Ave. at Stockton, 415-445-3009.
The light-filled dining room at Barbara. Photo: © tablehopper.com.