I’ve wanted to go to Bar Primi for a while. I respect Andrew Carmellini as a chef, and I respect a place that pretty much decides to go all-in on really good pasta with a few starters and a solid bar. Based on the menu strategy alone, I honestly can’t tell you why I waited so long to go.
The antipasti salad was our first starter. It’s nothing suuuuper standout…until you realize it’s a much better version than any tricolore salad you’ve ever had. I really liked that this was served chopped style with tons of random toppings. It meant every bite was good (not too many bites of only radicchio in a vinaigrette). I also liked that there were halved caper berries in there. You don’t see enough caper berries.
While my beau was gunning for the salad, I had my eye on the cacio e pepe cauliflower as a starter. Clearly one of us is all about Jump Start January, and it ain’t me. The cauliflower was roasted down to tender florets and topped with a light Alfredo-is sauce and a few sweet onions. There wasn’t a ton of “pepe” flavor, but it was delicious.
For Albert’s main course, he got the orecchiette with sausage, broccoli rabe, and peperoncino. There was actually tons of sausage in this pasta so it certainly felt like a main course. This is a pretty standard ingredient combo, one Albert orders often. I’m not saying he’s an expert, but he definitely approved of Bar Primi’s version.
After debating between a couple pastas, I ordered the squid ink campanelle with crab, garlic crema, and fresno chile at the waiter’s suggestion. There weren’t many huge chunks of crab, but the flavor was there (and without being fishy). Also, the sauce was truly a crema, not a super heavy cream sauce, so you could still tell how nice and al dente the pasta was. And I loved the kick from the fresnos!
I tend to gravitate towards the pasta section of almost any menu, particularly at Italian restaurants. I love that Bar Primi puts basically their whole focus on the pasta section so I don’t feel like I’m ignoring the “real” food items. For all I’m concerned, pasta is the only real food item I need.