Saturday was the last evening of the 2007 running of First Bite Boulder, and we ushered out the week the same way as we began it — with a good dinner with good friends at a good restaurant. And it was all good.
Our friend Mary Jo was in town, so she, my husband, I and three friends of hers went to Bácaro Venetian Taverna. This a stylish northern Italian restaurant was inspired by Venice’s congenial taverns, where friends gather for food, wine and conversation — of course, minus the canals. I like Bácaro’s pastas, with that tender toothsomeness that only fresh house-made pasta has. A bottle of Barbera for the red wine drinkers and a couple of glasses of white wine for the others and hefty slices of bread with olive oil (butter pats on request) got us started.
While the others ordered various salads, pastas and gnocchi from the regular menu, Mary Jo and I ordered the same selections from the First Bite Boulder menu, which offered a choice of three antipasti, four secondi and two dolci. We started with a salad of hydroponically grown baby arugula with candied roasted walnuts, creamy Gorgonzola dolcé and aged balsamic vinegar. For our entrée, we both selected the roasted pumpkin and ricotta ravioli with brown butter, sage and toasted almond sauce.
The restaurant was busy and some wires got crossed, so we were the beneficiaries. Instead of the ravioli, the waiter brought me tagliatelle pasta with Colorado lamb ragu, braised baby spinach, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a shave of pecorino Romano. When I alerted the waiter, he told us to keep it, because he couldn’t do anything with it anyway. When my pumpkin ravioli arrived, Mary Jo noticed that it looked different from hers. It turned out that he had erroneously brought an order of other ravioli from the regular menu. We were so busy talking when the dishes were put before us that she hadn’t noticed tomato instead of brown butter. With even a light tomato sauce, it didn’t seem surprise that the pumpkin didn’t come through. The result was that the six of us were able to share two extra entrées, and with a second bottle of Barbera, we didn’t mind the mix-up at all! For dessert, we had a thin slice of pear and apple tart on a thick, almond crust with vanilla gelato, whipped cream and caramel sauce. The restaurant is at 921 Pearl Street, Boulder; 303-444-4888.
We expected yesterday’s dinner to be the last First Bite opportunity for 2007, but Trattoria on Pearl, just a few blocks away, is extending the deal for one more week. The $26 three-course menu is continuing through Saturday, November 17, with a wine pairing available for an additional $15. The restaurant is at 1430 Pearl Street, Boulder; 303-544-0008.