At Chad Colby’s Bari, Apulian kebabs are in the foreground



While kebabs are the star of Chad Colby’s new Puglia-inspired spot, the entire menu deserves a second look at this warmly welcomed addition to Beverly Grove.

Typically – to me, at least – the Italian port city of Bari only thinks of its consistently underperforming football team. However, thanks to this rather nice new restaurant with this name, I’ll probably turn to the comforting and underrated regional cuisine of Italy’s heel capital.

Chef Chad Colby’s time in charge of the kitchen at Mozza’s brother Chi Spacca and his own restaurant, Antico, has proven his skill in preparing dishes from all over Italy. In Bari, he divides his menu into 10 sections. Everyone greets the fried snacks, breads, semolina-based pasta and grilled meats and fish so beloved in their favorite Italian region of Puglia. Taralli fennel crackers and burrata cheese are served with anchovies and breadcrumbs. Un panzerotti di pasquale presents the classic snack with a garnish of tomatoes and mozzarella in a rustic fried golden batter. Paparrachielli al tonno, or small pickled cherry peppers stuffed with tuna, are reminiscent of the delicious snack in a jar you can buy in most Italian supermarkets.

Perhaps Bari’s only disappointment was the fave e chicoria, a deeply flavorful mashed broad beans with a chicory garnish whose overwhelming level of acidity would have made Joan Rivers blush. My wife and I have found the right way with a perfect version of another Apulian standard, the orecchiette cime di rape, a delicious small-eared semolina paste with broccoli rabe and a touch of anchovy and chili.

Then come the kebabs, the definitive star of the show. The salsiccia agnello, a lamb sausage in a Calabrian chermoula, and the polpo, or grilled octopus with fingerling potatoes, lemon and chives, were both splendid enough that we considered ordering another plate from each. It’s the bombette (caciocavallo cheese wrapped in a crispy layer of pork shoulder), however, it would be the first thing I would recommend on future visits, and double serving.

I could easily have had another plate of bombette for dessert, but in the name of completion we ordered a budino chocolate pudding to share. It was an exemplary version of Italian pudding, but I admit I thought of pork wrapped caciocavallo when eating it. Open since June 2021, Bari has quickly proven its worth and my experience has confirmed Chad Colby as one of my favorite chefs in Los Angeles.

THE ATMOSPHERE

On a dark and cold autumn night, Bari seemed like the perfect place to linger. The lighting is soft. A fire broke out in front of the restaurant. The music was played on a complimentary level, not loud, and the service was endlessly friendly. It’s a restaurant that already seems to be a neighborhood favorite.

THE FOOD

While kebabs are the stuff of dreams in Bari, I’m sure there is enough in every section of the menu to warrant return visits to order an alternative meal, but just as satisfying as the one we’ve experienced. But if you don’t order the bombette every time, you are doing yourself a disservice.

THE BEVERAGE

Bari offers a small, thoughtful and reasonably priced list of wines from Puglia and neighboring Italian states and islands. It also provides a decent selection by the glass, from which I chose a glass of one of my favorite Slovenian wines known as refosk. The house martini was made with gin washed in olive oil and was certainly not this Englishman’s cup of tea. However, its quick replacement with a simpler martini has shown the restaurant’s bartenders to be quite capable.

DOWNTIME TIP

With its selection of regular tables, high platters, and bar seating in preparation for the show kitchen, this restaurant is the perfect answer to the question “Are we just going to eat out tonight?” My suggestion is to invite a few friends to join you, so that you can explore the menu more in depth.


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