Bàcaro Miami – Stellar Italian off Lincoln Road
Photos By Jason Hesch
At Bàcaro Miami you will find an excellent wine and Italian tapas bar with food that tastes like it was made in Italy in a very sleek and inviting atmosphere. The word Bàcaro refers to small bars in Venice offering wine and small snacks usually eaten standing up. The Venice native, Chef Carlo Bernardini is the person behind this Venetian Cicchetti tradition, serving hors-d’oeuvre size snacks that are the Italian tapas called Cicchetti.
Bàcaro is located off of Lincoln Road in Miami Beach on Michigan Avenue, (yes amazing cuisine is returning to Lincoln!) Chef Bernardini brings his worldly cooking experience from such acclaimed places as San Francisco, New York, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, London, Istanbul, Lisbon, and Cairo. Much of the menu is dedicated to cured salami, artisanal cheeses, and truffle aromas, as well as over 120 versatile wine and champagnes.
Walk inside and you will find the decor aesthetic is country farm house meets nightclub vibe with a red and white theme. A mural of a silhouette man and lady, psychedelic shapes and symbols is painted on the upper back wall. The lighting design invites a cozy dimly-lit rustic, yet modern ambiance with a mix of Edison light bulbs and architect desk lamps at the tables, and large industrial shades over the centerpiece of the granite bar. There are small tables and one large communal table with cherry red Windsor wood chairs with candles and seasonal floral centerpieces.
Wines are proudly displayed on the wall with a custom made metal wine rack spanning the entire length of the wall. The staff was attentive, and not intrusive. I was even impressed with the level of detail when returning to my seat from a bathroom break to refolded napkin. This place is also affordable with appetizers being between $5 – $18 and larger plates no more than $25. The portions were sized just right. Order four or five plates to satisfy your hunger.
My favorite opening to any meal is munching on the bread served while ordering takes place. Two types of crunchy Ciabatta bread, one with garlic and the other with tomato spread and buttery Focaccia with a sweet topping.
For starters, we were served the salad of crispy fried artichokes on top of balsamic spinach leaves with a spicy aioli dressing ($12). I highly recommend this delicious dish. The fried artichoke has a lightly crispy texture. Now, I’m not a big fan of spicy food, but in this dish the spicy aioli has a nice little kick of spiciness which is perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the balsamic spinach. Paired with a bubbly prosecco rounds off the dish nicely.
Next, a trio of seafood hors-d’oeuvres. The first piece is flavorful creamed cod fish (baccala) on crispy polenta with olive oil. The smoothness of the cod is like butter on top of a polenta, cooked to perfection with a crispy outside and tender moist interior. The second piece comprised of several pieces of sardines with white onion confit, raisins and pine nuts. In a deconstructed fashion this dish reminded me of a classic Jewish deli staple. Sweet and savory at the same time.The third piece is of stew baby octopus in red tomato marinara sauce on top of a crispy garlic bread, garnished with watercress. The octopus was most delicious and just divine.
For our third course, we were served garganelli pasta ($22) cooked perfectly al dente, the chewiness of the pasta holds up well with the oh-so-tender and enchanting ossobuco sauce with bits of soft meat and cremolata herbs.
Fourth was a Carnaroli risotto ($18) with alba white truffles and drizzle of sweet garlic reduction. I got so excited with this dish because I love risotto. And what better than to add truffles to the dish. In the same way, ground pepper is garnished to your liking so was the white truffle. I remember once having a cheese infused with truffles. Best cheese I ever had. The sweet garlic reduction envelops your tongue as each grain of risotto gives a pop to every bite.
Bacaroa might be our new favorite Italian restaurant in Miami. The cuisine and wines are outstanding and it super affordable.