The East Village’s Bär-Bo-Ne is known mostly for its regional wines, but the food has been getting consistently more interesting since former chef John Baron departed and was replaced by the owner, Alberto Ibrahimi. The latter incorporates pointed, strong flavors into light, understated dishes such as tonight’s special of veal short ribs braised in white wine, served over parsnip purée with celery leaves ($20). “You see beef short ribs all the time,” Ibrahimi says. “But spring is here and veal is softer and lighter.” The celery leaves give some needed texture and bitterness to the soft sweetness of the meat and parsnips; Ibrahimi suggests pairing the dish with a $12 quartino of Benuara, a blend of red Nero d’Avola and Syrah grapes that he says is “rustic but elegant, like the ribs.”
When Alberto Ibrahimi, the owner of Bar-bo-ne, talks to us about wine, he never says anything about bottles, vineyards, or even regions. Everything is about "the grape." He's bent on introducing his customers to regional wines made from indigenous Italian grapes. Two more debut tonight: Massaretta, a Tuscan variety which grows only around the city of Massa and which he describes, lovingly, as having "a deep red, ruby color, with ripe plums and prunes" (order the Cima Massaretta); and asprinio, a white Campagna grape (Villa Carafa Asprinio di Aversa). He says the latter is "very rare, almost unknown here." The unknown is becoming Ibrahimi's trademark: "Regulars don't even look at the list anymore."