Baci Cafe & Wine Bar / by Julie Fadda / July, 2010
Baci Café & Wine Bar
336 Healdsburg Ave.
(707) 433-8111
Italian and Mediterranean Cuisine
Dinner Thurs.-Mon.
Wine pairings/lunch:
Sat.-Sun. 11-4
Entrées (dinner): $10-$25
Good wine list
Having opened in April, Baci (which means “kiss” in Italian) is already bringing in the crowds. Owners Lisbeth Holmefjord and Chef Shari Sarabi are off to a great start with a traditional Italian and Mediterranean menu, locally focused wine list (which features boutique wineries) and welcoming space. The two originally met on Oahu, Hawaii, where Sarabi owned his first incarnation of Baci, as well as Baci Due and Spiedini.

Aside from serving lunch and dinner, the restaurant offers weekend wine tastings at the bar or in a private room that can also be reserved for private dining for up to 12. 

We started our meal with a crisp bruschetta, which was topped with fresh tomato, onion, a healthy amount of garlic, as well as olive oil, fresh basil and parsley. The custom-made olive oil is also served with bread and is available by the bottle.

Next came a delicious Caesar salad, which was served chopped with a traditional yet garlic-rich dressing, grated Parmigiano and toasted and herbed baguette slices. We enjoyed it with a 2007 Michel-Schlumberger “La Brume” Chardonnay.

A dish of tender, fresh, bright red and thin-sliced carpaccio was next, topped with plenty of capers and strips of Parmigiano. It was served with fresh lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.

Baci has a wood-burning oven in which it bakes thin crust pizza and some pasta dishes. We chose the quattro stagioni pizza, which was topped with prosciutto, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, roasted tomatoes and mozzarella. Very flavorful, its mushroom and tomato elements stood out the most, as did its perfectly cooked crust. At this point, we also moved on to some wonderful red wines (a cuvee, a Petite Sirah and a Zinfandel) from Gustafson Family Vineyards.

Our first entrée was the baked pasta special, which had three large conchiglie shells stuffed with veal, ricotta, spinach and prociutto, lightly baked and topped with a rich béchamel sauce. We also tried the house made gnocchi alla Bolognese, which came with a traditional slow-cooked meat sauce that had chunks of beef, veal and pork, and the risotto al funghi, a rich, al dente risotto with large slices of gourmet mushrooms, then accented with truffle oil and Parmigiano.

Our second entrée was the daily fish special, a wonderfully tender, skin-on Alaskan halibut served with a flavorful puttanesca sauce with lots of olives, tomatoes, onions and capers. Third was a smoky-flavored, slow-braised lamb shank with natural jus, creamy polenta, wild mushrooms and delicious blanched vegetables.

Desserts included a light in texture tiramisu (with amaretto rather than rum), as well as delightfully flakey profiteroles filled with vanilla gelato and topped with rich chocolate sauce—which pretty much sealed the meal with a sweet kiss.