For the past 14 years, Umberto Gibin and Staffan Terje, proprietors of restaurants Perbacco and barbacco, have brought the incredible flavors of Italy to San Francisco diners. While the coronavirus pandemic has hindered their ability to provide indoor dining experiences, for now, the two are channeling their energy to helping those in need during the crisis.
The proprietor and chef of Perbacco have kept the Piemontese restaurant a fresh, reliable staple of San Francisco’s downtown dining scene for 14 years. The idea for Perbacco was conceived at a downtown bar in 2005 with a clear vision – provide guests with delicious, beautifully plated food, great service, and an elegant atmosphere.
By 2010, Perbacco had a sister restaurant, barbacco, the trattoria with more of a Southern Italian focus right next door.
As the restaurants continued to flourish, Umberto Gibin and Staffan Terje quickly recognized that with much privilege comes much responsibility and that they had to give back to the community. Meals on Wheels San Francisco (MOWSF) is one of the many organizations that has benefitted from their generosity. Together, the two personally helped raise over $500,000 for SF seniors in need of nutritious meals and safety checks. Their commitment is so strong that Staffan recently told us, “We always want to be a part of the MOWSF event, as long as they will have us!”
Today, Covid-19 presents Perbacco with a new call to action – the restaurant has responded to the crisis by collaborating with Frontline Food to provide meals to ICU and emergency room staff and they regularly deliver over 100 meals to the Presidio Veterans Center.
Fortunately, for San Francisco, Umberto and Staffan can multi-task. They are focusing on the community as well as their wish to see Perbacco age gracefully while overcoming current dining challenges. For several months, Perbacco has been offering delivery and take-out meals, and recently with the easing of restrictions, they added Dining al Fresco. It does not get more Italian than that!
The lack of hustle and bustle in downtown due to shelter-in-place restrictions actually makes Perbacco’s location perfect for outdoor dining in San Francisco, and added bonus; the City’s skyscrapers nearby act as a shelter from the blustery summer winds that San Francisco is known for.
The all-day menu, served weekdays from 11:30 am to 8:00 pm, includes refreshing seasonal favorites like Heirloom Tomatoes with Roasted Peaches Salad and of course their signature pasta Tajarin with Piemontese ragu’ and the ever-popular Red Wine Braised Short Ribs. To make the experience even more familiar and comforting guests can count on the debonair Umberto Gibin being there to greet them.
Perbacco, 230 California St., 415-955-0663 or perbaccosf.com
AGNOLOTTI DAL PLIN
3 cups Italian “00” flour or all-purpose flour
5 whole large eggs, plus 5 egg yolks
2 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 pounds roasted veal shoulder or breast, chopped in food processor
2 cups Savoy cabbage, finely chopped and blanched
2 whole eggs
½ cup reduced veal or beef broth
1 ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
Salt and black pepper
1 cup reduced veal broth
- Sift together and then mound 3 cups of the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. Start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. The dough should be elastic. Cover the dough in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
- In a 12-inch saucepan, add 1 tablespoon butter over high heat until hot. Add the garlic, and veal Cook, about 10 minutes. Add cabbage and cook for another 15 minutes. Let the veal cool and cabbage until room temperature, then place in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the Parmigiano, egg, veal broth, a pinch of nutmeg, and salt and pepper, to taste. Mix until well combined. Set aside.
- Roll out the pasta into thin sheets, about 3 inches wide. Using a pastry bag, pipe out equal amounts of the filling (about 1 teaspoon) and place along the bottom half of the pasta sheet, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border of dough at the bottom and sides: each dollop of filling should be approximately 1 1/2-inches away from the next. Pull the top edge of the pasta up and over the filling. The dough should form 1 large pocket over the dollops of filling. Seal the agnolotti by gently carefully molding the pasta over the filling and pressing lightly with your index finger to seal the edge of the dough to the pasta sheet.
- To shape agnolotti: Starting at 1 end of the dough, place the thumb and forefinger of each hand together as if you were going to pinch something and, leaving about 1-inch of space between your hands and holding your fingers vertically, pinch the filling in 1-inch increments, making about 3/4-inch of “pinched” area between each pocket of filling. It is important to leave this much “pinched” area between the agnolotti, Separate the individual agnolotti by cutting the center of each pinched area, rolling the pastry wheel away from you Place the agnolotti on a baking sheet dusted with flour.
- Bring 8 quarts water to a rolling boil, and add 2 tablespoons salt.
Add the agnolotti to the water and cook until tender, about 4 minutes total. Drain well and toss with butter and some meat broth. Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano.
HALIBUT BRAISED WITH ARTICHOKES AND POTATOES, SALSA VERDE
4 port. Halibut filet, 6 oz each
16-20 ea fingerling potatoes (or other small potatoes)
8 ea medium artichokes
Lemon, sliced and seeds removed
Garlic cloves, cracked
Italian Parsley, coarsely chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
- Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and cook in salted water until almost tender. Drain and set aside.
- Peel and trim artichokes from leaves. Peel bottom and stem with a potato peeler. Cut in half and remove choke. Slice into ¼” thick slices and place into a bowl filled with cold water and some lemon juice.
- Season halibut pieces with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan and add pieces when hot. Sear for 2-3 minutes and turn over carefully. Remove after 2 minutes and set aside
- Add artichokes, potatoes, lemon slices, and garlic to the pan. Saute for 4-5 minutes, add thyme, and white wine. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Place halibut on top of vegetables and spoon over cooking juices. Cook until halibut is done. About 5-6 minutes. Add parsley.
- Spoon potatoes and artichokes onto a platter. Place halibut on top. Reduce pan juices until slightly thickened.
- Top fish with salsa verde.
1 bunch Italian parsley
1 bunch basil, leaves only
2 tablespoons drained bottled capers, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
2 ea anchovy fillets
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 egg, hard-cooked and chopped (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
- Blanch herbs in salted water for 1 minute, then shock in ice water. Squeeze dry.
- Chop herbs coarsely and place in a blender with olive oil. Blend until smooth.
- Add capers, anchovy, vinegar, and garlic. Blend until fine (about 1 minute).
- Pour into a fitting bowl and stir in egg. Let sit for 1 hour.
- Add more oil if necessary. The sauce should be thick, but fluid. Season with salt and pepper.