It was cold and way-too-early dark last Saturday evening when Debbie and I arrived at the brand-new Venetian bistro Bacaro... so the fact that it was cold and dark inside the place as well didn't immediately make sitting down for a meal here seem all that appealing. (We were offered a table in the tiny upstairs bar area. The downstairs dining room— apparently quite catacombal—was, for vague reasons, not open.) The food turned out to be mixed but, overall, good, though not nearly good enough for us to make this a destination spot... which, given the fact that it's in the middle of nowhere, is definitely a problem.
We shared five things, all small to less-small plates. First came the Zuppa di Ruppa, or pumpkin soup, which was surprisingly chunky (not a puree, this) and appropriately autumnal. The chilled Marinated Sardines tasted fine—two big, juicy fish covered with caramelized onions, raisins and pine nuts—but might have been better warmed. The teeny Spicy Fried Meatballs were a bit of a bust... not bad food by any means, but at $1 each, I feel like we deserved something with a little more impact.
The pastas were the real highlight here. I had the Gnocchi con Funghi, and though it was far more gummy than the preferred "pillowy", this was a terrific verge-of-winter supper: earthy, generous with the mushrooms, altogether satisfying. Debbie, too, really enjoyed her Risotto with Cuttlefish Ink, rich with the ocean, redolent with wine.
Bacaro is located on Division Street between Orchard and Ludlow. The design (upstairs at least) is gothic and dim. The menu is nearly impossible to read if you have any sort of age-related vision issues. Another thing: this part of town? Crawling with rats. Seriously. One scurried out from some piles of trash right in front of us on the sidewalk, just around the corner from our meal. Not that other areas of the city where I eat all the time are rat-free—not by a long-shot—but still...