Barano: An Argument for Brunch
In his 1999 article, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” Anthony Bourdain breaks down the emotional mechanics of being a restaurant chef. Butter is a cook’s best friend, he reveals, while brunch is a word “dreaded by all dedicated cooks.” Bourdain claims that chefs “despise hollandaise,” along with “home fries, those pathetic fruit garnishes, and all the other cliché accompaniments designed to induce a credulous public into paying $12.95 for two eggs.”
But in the years since Bourdain’s dismissal of brunch as a bastard breakfast, the meal has had a resurgence in popularity. The word ‘brunch’ is now a verb used by both poor college students wishing for an adulthood in which brunch is a regular occurrence, and well paid hipsters reminiscing about their days of student poverty. And while it’s true that it is far too easy to brunch at a place that charges an absurd amount of money for an omelette you could make on a two burner stove, in recent times, there seems to be an increasing amount of innovation within the brunch market -- a suspicion proven true by my recent visit to the nuovo Italian restaurant run by Chef Al Di Meglio: Barano
Barano is -- there’s no other word for it -- classy. I’ve been to brunches where the sole purpose is to be boozed up by the meal’s end. This is not the case at Barano, where the cocktails serve as a complement to the food. Who knew that homemade, rhubarb pop-tarts would pair so well with mimosas? Eating this dish, I fell into a natural routine: bite of pastry, swig of mimosa, enjoy, repeat.
Other options for Piattini, or small plates, included a house made coconut and cherry granola with sheep’s milk yogurt and honey, Pizza Bianca, and the “Little Gem Lettuce” salad, composed of roasted and raw peaches, Sicilian pistachios, smoked pecorino, and a red wine vinaigrette.
After having our expectations blown away by our first couple of dishes, my friend and I went all out and gobbled up a total of four more entrees from the new brunch menu: an Italian pork sandwich topped with crispy onions, semolina pancakes drizzled in lemon curd, the Benedetto, or poached eggs served in a rosemary biscuit with prosciutto, radicchio, and honey, and an avocado and salmon pizza.
Now, all of these dishes were well crafted, flavorful, and beautiful to look at. But if I had to pick a must try, a top of the pack, a dish above the rest (if only by a few hairs), it would be the Avocado and Salmon Pizza. I don’t like bagel and lox -- there’s something thick, doughy bagels in conjunction with paper thin, slippery salmon that puts me off. But I LOVED this pizza, and so did my friend, who’s normally opposed to fish of any kind. I don’t know what it was -- the toasted sesame seeds? The avocado mascarpone mix? Whatever it was, this pizza beats your standard bagel and lox any day. As an added bonus, the huge pie clocks in at only $18 and can feed two people, which means this dish can officially be added to food under ten dollars that is worth one hundred. An unbelievable bargain.
Barano’s new outdoor patio and extended Brunch service (Friday-Sunday, 11:30-4 p.m), has officially kicked off for the summer season, so be sure to get down there and gorge on all the delicious new dishes they have to offer. For more information (and pictures of Barano’s excellent food), check out their website, http://www.baranobk.com/, and their instagram, @baranobk.