bar Vetti serves Italian veggie feast

Since the apocalypse started, my wife and I have taken advantage of carry-out mostly and gone to only a few restaurants we know well. Hope and I are trying to venture out, safely, again, so I asked her if she wanted to try bar Vetti Italian Restaurant. She told me I had her at “bar.”

BV recently moved to Nulu adjoining the new AC Hotel. We went with family members who are in the culinary industry, which made for an evening of tasting and trying a variety of dishes outside of my normal gluten-free, vegetarian purview. While there are plenty of Italian options for those who don’t eat things with faces (or who hang back from wheat), the other side of our table ordered a true beef-pocalypse of menu items.

We started our repast with an exploratory bottle of Sean Minor Sauv Blanc ($40), light and crisp with a hint of grapefruit in the nose. For no-meat appetizers, we selected the Gräńde Burrata ($15) and the roasted cauliflower ($17).

Hope and I love a good, fresh burrata, which is made by stretching mozzarella into a sheet, filling it with curds (about the consistency of cottage cheese) and folding it to look like a little snowman. Think of it as eating a savory Olaf. BV serves its dish with an interesting twist — set in a bowl of high-end olive oil, balsamic vinegar, slices of toasted Blue Dog sourdough and cracked pepper and finishing salt. We got the bread served on the side with a medley of thick cut carrots and celery for my cheese consumption experience, while the rest of the table flouted their gluten tolerance by dipping the bread into the oil-vinegar mixture, eliciting a moan with each bite. We ended up ordering a second burrata.

Our veggie starter was the cauliflower “small plate,” with small plate being in quotes because of the entrée-sized portion that came out. A trough of cauliflower seasoned with seaweed tonnato, white grapes, golden raisins, herbs and capers (breadcrumbs on the side to make gluten-free). One note for those of you who find white bread and table salt a little too spicy: There is a little slow-burn kick in this dish.

The starters for the animal-killing side of the table included beef tartare ($19), a shareable Caesar salad ($10) and chicken liver toast ($13). The tartare looked like the “before” picture of a burger about to be grilled and was the fave of the bunch. The toast featured rich foie gras on a thick cut of toast accented with butternut squash caponata, pecans and balsamela (a sweet apple balsamic vinegar), perfect for those who like to eat the pureed glands of fattened water fowl.

As we pivoted to entrées, we tried a bottle of Malvira Roera Arneis ($50), unoaked and dry with a hint of melon and citrus, just like my 12th-grade English teacher.

For entrées, there are a variety of meatier options including some steak dishes and what was described as the best chicken Parm in town ($30 — spaghetti, red sauce, mozzarella, parmesan); BV also offers a variety of pizzas and pastas.

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Hope and I decided on the cocoa campanelle ($27 for a full portion) with the gluten-free pasta. The white wine sauce had rich, sweet and savory notes with black truffle and corn, but the locally sourced Frondosa Farms mushrooms did the heavy lifting on the flavor profile. With a starter or two, the full portion is more than enough to split.

Our niece ordered the kid’s pizza ($12), which I thought was going to be way too much food for her until the eating machine found a second gear devouring it as well as the residual Blue Dog toast from the appetizers.

Though a very interesting Italian-inspired dessert menu, my brother-in-law and I decided to drink our dessert with BV’s specialty pick of bourbon, Willett 6-year Eternal Optimist ($16 for a 1.5 ounce pour). At 129-plus proof with one small ice cube, it has a luxurious caramel and vanilla flavor that is complex on the tongue with just the slightest of Kentucky hugs on the finish to let you know you’re drinking Bluegrass gold.

bar Vetti
727 E. Market St.
883-3331
barvetti.com

Noise: The evening topped out at 93 decibels with an average of 78 with the main bar area about two-thirds full.

Accessibility: The restrooms have an accessible stall with handrails in the stalls, and the low top tables are accessible.

COVID-19: Masks were worn uniformly in a spacious dining area with tables spread out and capped at 50% capacity. Also, online ordering with curbside carryout or delivery is available.

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