Noe Valley’s Bacco as enticing as ever

Michael Bauer, SFgate

When Bacco Ristorante owner Paolo Dominici died while spearfishing in Hawaii last year, questions swirled about the fate of his Noe Valley restaurant. Then Shari Dominici stepped in to carry on her husband’s life work, and Vincenzo Cucco, who opened Bacco with Paolo Dominici in 1993 but bowed out to concentrate on Divino in Belmont, stepped back into the picture as executive chef.

On a recent weeknight, the place was buzzing. Shari Dominici seemed to be everywhere at once, greeting customers, pouring wine, bringing food and graciously checking back to see if things were going well. She epitomizes the warmth and caring attitude that makes this neighborhood restaurant so endearing and enduring. That’s also the attitude held by the staff, who quickly respond to any need.

Bacco has been known for pasta and risotto, and that tradition continues. I’ve always loved the house-made pappardelle with the tomato lamb sauce ($19); this time I was just as enticed by the mild, slightly sweet tomato sauce that coated the vermicelli with slow-braised Tuscan meatball ($16).