bistro that dreams are made of.
Baci's charming interior of arches and winding streets was created
by artist Franco Masci, a friend Juliano brought from Rome. On one
wall is written, "Se magna e se bene in allegria," -- "Eat and drink
in happiness," and that is exactly what we did beginning with my
choice of a great flat bowl filled with varied winter greens --
spinach, red leaf, mushrooms, cucumbers and carrot shreds, not
chilled but at room temperature, to bring out the varied flavors.
Soup was another choice -- a pasta e fagioli -- an earthy homemade
bean soup in a big flat bowl, warm and filling all by itself on a
Baked salmon ($16.95) in a delicate champagne sauce is nearly 1
1/2 inches thick and maintains its firmness as it flakes. Juliano,
knowledgeable about food, will tell you that some fish, like Dover
sole, may be firmer because it must swim upstream rather than drift
to the ocean. The salmon here is served with penne "Angelo" -- short,
straight, ridged tubes in a creamy sauce filled with chunky chicken
pieces and intensely flavored with sun-dried tomatoes.
Another entree choice is chicken filet ($14.95) with a sweet
topping of raisins; the influence of Arabic cuisine, which, according
to Juliano, migrated to southern Italy centuries ago.
Desserts are made in-house, a creme brulee (French for "burnt
cream") with a crust of caramelized sugar covering a rich custard.
Another dish, Zuppa Inglese, described by restaurant critic Herb Raus
as "the best in Orange County," is a traditional recipe -- a roll of
spongy cake filled with smooth custard -- simple and delicious.
Then there is Tortufo al Cioccolato Nero Flambe, ($7) a dark
chocolate turtle shell over vanilla ice cream, doused with a mix of
Grand Marnier and Drambuie, which is flamed at the table. Owner
Juliano created the dish while working as a chef in Switzerland, and
said he was tempted to call it "strip tease," as the flaming sauce
spooned over the truffle slowly revealed the vanilla ice cream
Remember, the way to a woman's heart is through the door of a
Happy Valentine's Day.