One of those recommendations (that was delivered several times in person) was Bari Ristorante e Enoteca over on Cooper near Overton Square. Now, I have no desire to become a restaurant reviewer, and I'm not going to tell you about the parking and the ease of getting high chairs, but I don't mind reporting when I've had an amazing meal, and I'll give a bit of advice for dining there.
If you're looking for Dean Martin on the soundtrack and red checkered tablecloths, you're in the wrong place. If you're expecting "stuffa you face" portions of pasta and red sauce, there are numerous other restaurants in town that will fill you up. That's not to say that you're going to go home hungry--I was pleasantly stuffed by the end of my meal, and I'd only had four courses and no dessert.
At the start, the waiter will explain to you that the portions are small and you're supposed to enjoy several courses. This is how things work in Italy, where dinner may take three hours and involve dirtying a dozen plates. (What to do with the interstitial time? Try talking to the people at your table! Drink some wine, have fun!) The benefit here is that you can easily customize your meal depending on how hungry you are and what you're craving.
Here's what I had:
- Polipo con Pompelmo: Grilled baby octopus with red onions and grapefruit. I never pass up baby octopus, and these didn't disappoint.
- Radicchio e Indiva: Grilled radicchio and endive with gorgonzola cheese and a red wine vinaigrette. My brother has a rule about not ordering anything in a restaurant that he can cook himself, but I broke that rule for this one. I enjoy grilling the various chicories at home, but was quite happy with these two. The radicchio was of the treviso variety, more elongated than the normal chioggia you see in the store. Gorgonzola was a perfect match here.
- Orecchiette alla Pugliese: Little ear-shaped pasta (tasted fresh to me) with roasted cherry tomatoes, salted anchovies, and rapini. Rich, flavorful, and surprisingly filling for the portion.
- Branzino alla Griglia: Given the efficient portions on all other courses, I was surprised by this one: a whole European Sea Bass stuffed with fennel and oranges and grilled. Probably a pound or so. Delicate, flavorful flesh that came off the bone beautifully. I'll warn you that this dish takes a bit of effort if you don't eat much whole fish, but it's well worth it.