Little sister to the highly hailed Sea Salt restaurant just up the street, Barbatella is attracting attention all its own these days after a bit of recent reinventing. Opened in 2012 by the mastermind behind Sea Salt Naples and St. Petersburg – local celebrity chef Fabrizio Aielli – Barbatella indulged the chef’s nostalgia for his Venetian homeland.
Whereas Sea Salt’s geographic orientation is more global, Barbatella takes a casual, Italian approach.
The Terrazza at Barbatella — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
“We have changed the Barbatella culture to ‘an Italian gastro wine bar’ with Italian foodie cuisine, true to its heritage but with a new spin,” says corporate chef Jason Goddard, who designed the new menu. “I wrote the lunch and dinner menu in the style of Italian tapas – or the small plates idea – so that a person can taste quite a few of the different offerings.”
New on the lunch menu are small sandwiches served on pizza dough bread and baked in Barbatella’s wood oven. These are no ordinary sandwiches; herb-marinated octopus with burrata and tomato-black truffle jam or spaghetti carbonara with crispy pancetta and egg yolk parmesan, for instance.
Of course, pizza remains a staple, but in small pizzette format at lunch, with toppings such as grilled eggplant with sausage, tomato and buffalo mozzarella; or fennel with onion, avocado, lime, jalapeno and micro cilantro.
Chef Goddard has learned well, at the hands of Chef Aielli, the art of combining ingredients to new, eye-opening effect, as the fennel-goes-Mexican pizzette demonstrates.
On the dinner menu he added stuzzichini aka finger foods. “I created this section to order something on the table right away while you are looking at all the different options,” said Goddard.
Selections include olives stuffed with spreadable salami and Asiago cheese; and figs and burrata on ciabatta bruschetta. Charcuterie, rabbit cacciatore, veal Milanese, full-sized pizzas, pasta, fresh grilled fish and other Italian-inspired masterworks complete the evening menu.
Seafood lovers go for the Ligurian seafood platter: Maine lobster, shrimp, octopus, mussels and spaghettini in a light tomato brodo.
New wine labels and infused grappa make news in the bar. An Enomatic wine bar dispenses 32 different kinds of wine by the glass without fear of them losing their peak flavor. Guests can customize their own wine flights to enjoy at a booth in the Brick Room, at the Community Table or alfresco on the Terrazza.
Barbatella serves excellence to the very finish. It's known for its authentic Italian gelato in house-made flavors such as mango, hazelnut, praline, mocha fudge and roasted coconut. Try a gluten-free cookie and gelato sandwiches such as gingersnap cookies stuffed with caramel turtle gelato. Or share with friends Barbatella’s signature dessert: Nutella pizza with whipped cream and caramelized banana.