This restaurant has no menu, but instead, a giant of a man who wanders from table to table over its squeaky wooden floorboards will tell you what you want. And trust us, he knows better than you do.
Café Bacco inspires love in the people that know it, and we’ll inspire hate in the same people for telling you about it.
It’s chairs squeak when you move in them and there’s a whole lot of ‘bongiorno’-s and ‘Allora!’-s being thrown around in this dark-wooded place. This may just sound like another pizza and pasta joint where Italian charm is thrown in for tips, but no, simply no – you can’t fake the authenticity of Café Bacco.
Carrying around a huge chunk of Mortadella with a carving knife is the giant we spoke about, Alberto Stefanelli. He wears breeches, and chats in a low volume, gravely voice to each of the guests that he carves thin slices of the pinkish white polka dotted meat for. His presence (and his moustache hidden smile) is as heart-warming as the aura of Cafe Bacco.
This big personality of the place is your menu. Just tell him what you feel like and he’ll take care of the rest, and while the thought of leaving the fate of our dish in somebody else’s hands scares the hell out of us at first, our nerves ease as we see the delight on the other guests faces when trying the random dishes he serves them.
We see pasta in plentiful variations slid under diner’s noses, alongwith the likes of steaks the size of our uncle Jim’s left hand (he has enormous hands… and strangely, especially his left one).
Just prepare yourself to eat through many courses and let go. You’ll love the surprise element when a delicious and fresh burrata, pappa al pomodoro, with tomatoes and bread, a typical poor dish of the Tuscan countryside, or a homemade tagliolini, ravioli or pasta turns up on your plate.
The dishes are shaped by the seasons offerings. When it’s truffle time, you can feast on tagliolini al tartufo, or superbly made eggs with truffle scales. The desserts are also outrageously good, whether it’s the tiramisu or the coffee mousse.
Alberto serves us a plate of thin homemade tagliatelle, which when it arrives, doesn’t look like much. Alberto manoeuvres a pile of it onto our plate from the serving plate and tells us to eat it straight away – ‘It must be eaten as soon as it’s served.’
We do as we’re told and immediately the taste of the lemon zest that the plain-looking pasta has been infused with brings our mouth to life. Wowsah! This has to be the freshest pasta that’s ever been slurped up by our lips.
Alberto even seasons the pasta for you so all you have to worry about here is eating. Well, they certainly make you feel like that here, anyway.
It is exactly how you’d find an Italian trattoria in Tuscany. And it just so happens that Alberto comes from Montecatini, nearby Pisa and Florence.
Alberto’s recipes are his grandmother’s, and the same food she used to cook for him when he was a boy. You can taste the love that has been passed down.
Cafe Bacco is a special place. It’s a real place serving up real food in a restaurant scene that’s becoming increasingly stylised. And like any special place, the limited amount of seats here are valuable. So if you foresee yourself trying to order pizza while occupying one of those special seats with your special ass, do please go somewhere else and leave Bacco for us dedicated diners (said with the voice of a desperate child possessive of their mother).