This week’s recipe for Agnolotti Dal Plin (handmade ravioli with a veal stuffing) was stolen with permission from Staffan Terje, chef-owner of Perbacco, San Francisco. “Perbacco” is an Italian word used to accentuate positive comments. It can be an expression of pleasure and surprise, as well as a reference to Bacchus, god of wine and symbol of revelry: “Wow” — which is also a good word to describe the menu at Perbacco, which features house-cured meats and salamis.
Chef Terje has created a menu rich with classical dishes yet at the same time utilizing all of the seasonal bounty available. Chef Terje and owner Umberto Gibin have been sharing their passion for the food and wine of Italy with Americans for nearly three decades.
The 6,000-square-foot restaurant is located on the ground floor of the historic 1912 Hind Building, the long narrow space having been transformed into a variety of “zones,” each with a sleek, modern feel, but retaining an old-world ambiance, complete with a marble-tiled floor and marble bar top and an original unfinished-brick wall that stretches down one side of the room. The floor-level dining room and the dining room on the mezzanine level have furnished mahogany chairs with rich, deep-red ostrich-patterned upholstery. The mezzanine tables have the added allure of serving as a theater, with windows to watch all of the action in the kitchen below.
If you are in San Francisco’s financial district a visit to Perbacco is a must, to sample the daily changing menu and soak up the lively atmosphere from opening to closing.
About the chef: When asked why a Swedish-born chef would choose to open an authentic Italian restaurant, Staffan Terje replies, “Italian food is the food that talks to me. You don’t choose who you fall in love with. It just happens.”
Raised on a farm outside of Stockholm, Staffan discovered his passion for food at an early age. After several years working in Stockholm and at prestigious restaurants all around Europe, he moved to Napa in 1986 and joined the original Piatti in Yountville, Napa Valley. Being in Napa brought back memories of his childhood on the farm.
“At the restaurant we used produce from small farms and sometimes even people’s backyards ... the first Meyer lemons I ever used came from a neighbor’s tree,” he remembers. Inspired by the vast array of local products, he began to form the philosophy of sourcing ingredients from small farms that he still follows today. Promoted quickly, he was soon responsible for new restaurant openings, menu development and training. Other career highlights include a seven-year stint at San Francisco’s famed Scala’s Bistro and cooking at The James Beard House in New York City.
230 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
Agnolotti Dal Plin is served at Perbacco for $15.
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