Brentwood: Small Bites and Cocktails at Bar Toscana
I recently checked out Bar Toscana for the Martin Miller’s Gin competition (congratulations to Chris Day at General Lee’s for his win). I had a couple of bites and a drink but because it was so busy, I vowed to come back to try out the local Brentwood favorite.
Bar Toscana opened about five years ago next door to the popular Toscana restaurant. They serve a bar menu and also some of the restaurant’s best dishes. It’s narrow bar but there are some spaces for lounging if you don’t want to pull up a bar stool.
Being Italian, it’s a natural to stop in for an aperitivo and the Negroni is always a good choice. It’s one of my favorite cocktails and besides a Manhattan, my most ordered drink. Bar Toscana makes an excellent one with what else, Martin Miller’s gin.
Negroni – Martin Miller’s gin, Campari, sweet vermouth
I like the European habit of snacking while imbibing. Get the Olive e Mandrole, the trio of goodies. I loved the pecorino hard cheese, Castelvetrano olives and marcona almonds.
If you didn’t want to start with something as strong as a Negroni, there’s always its little cousin the Negroni Sbagliato which uses sparkling wine instead of gin. And since this is Bar Toscana, it’s proper prosecco.
Negroni Sbagliato – Campari, prosecco, sweet vermouth
You can make your own cheese and meat plate by combing the Stuzzichino Toscano which has burrata with the proscuitto plate which also comes with melon slices.
My friend tried out the Pearbellini which features fresh pears as well as elderflower liqueur and pear-flavored vodka. It’s a nice switch up for those who would normally go for a Cosmo.
Pearbellini – Grey Goose Le Poire, St. Germain, pear, lime, Peychaud’s bitters
Or if you really want to break out of the box and it seems just a tad too dark outside to get a brunch drink, try the Rubino which is an intriguing mix of prosecco, orange liqueur and tart pomegranate. It’s quite the sophisticated drink.
Rubino – prosecco, Grand Marnier, pomegranate
On my first visit, I tried the insalata di piselli which is a peas and artichoke salad. I really love fresh greens and this was wonderful from the get go. The crisp greens worked so well with the sweet peas and flavorful artichokes. Plus a bright citrus dressing worked really well.
Bar Toscana features many fresh ingredients on the bar top that head bartender William Perbellini loves drawing inspiration from. I was eyeing the fresh pineapple when he made me a frothy drink with coconut vodka and pineapple. It was a vacation in a glass and instantly called up images of lounging on a beach somewhere tropical. (And yes, if you recall the Pearbellini, that name of the drink is a play on William’s last name.)
Bartender’s Choice – coconut vodka, pineapple, Peychaud’s bitters
You might wonder why there’s tuna tartare on the menu but if you think of a really good crudo, the Italians don’t shy away from raw fish. And this version at Bar Toscana is especially fantastic with shaved truffles, asparagus and shishito peppers. It’s really one of the best tuna tartares I’ve had in a while.
The Toscana burger turned out to be two beefy sliders. With just meat and cheese, they were perfect little bites. And entirely satisfying.
Really, you can’t go wrong with classic combination of red bell pepper and basil. Combined with South American pisco, this seems like a crazy new drink but it’s back to Italy with Aperol. And that’s when you get it- it’s full of vitality with Italian charm.
Speziato – Barsol pisco, Aperol, red bell pepper, basil, lemon
I was crying I was full but William said we couldn’t leave without trying the lasagna which you can get a half or double portion. We opted for half and it’s really very good. William says his mother’s lasagna is his favorite but this is a very close second.
I’d love to come back and try more pastas or pizzas next time. Plus there’s the classic cocktails section to explore.(310) 826-0028 © The Minty 2016