(Published in The Cayman Reporter, March 8, 2017)
Bacaro is the latest fine-dining restaurant to open in Cayman, offering diners a little slice of Italy, with a twist, one delicious small plate at a time.
The 100-seat restaurant is located at the Cayman Islands Yacht Club and is headed up by Barnabas Bako and Federico Destro, two industry pros who bring more than 20 years’ experience working at some of Cayman’s most popular fine-dining establishments. Bacaro is the culmination of the duo’s lifelong dream to one day open and run a restaurant featuring their own unique signature style.
“It goes far back to my childhood, being raised in Venice with good food and drinks,” Federico said of the inspiration behind the restaurant. “I am very passionate about what I do and take pride in every dish that goes out.”
The menu focuses primarily on small plates – “cicchetti” – a popular style of dining in Federico’s home town of Venice, Italy. Indeed, the restaurant’s name “Bacaro” is the name given for a typical wine bar in Venice where you can enjoy a selection of cicchetti alongside a glass of wine.
Diners are encouraged to order a number of dishes at Bacaro, and then share them family-style, offering a wonderful way to try a variety of delicious dishes all in one sitting.
“Sharing plates is an exciting dining experience allowing the diner tchoose how much they eat as well as sampling several dishes from our menu which showcases Venetian style food using local ingredients,” Barnabas explained.
Indeed, local ingredients are used throughout the menu wherever possible, and the culinary pros work closely with Cayman’s farmers, including East End Garden and Gifts, Island Fresh and Gall’s Farm, in addition to ensuring they secure the freshest catch from Cayman’s fishermen.
“Fresh ingredients play a huge role in our kitchen for the taste and the freshness of our dishes,” Barnabas said.
“Cayman has such a fantastic restaurant scene with many long established and varied eateries and plenty of options for diners to choose from,” Barnabas added. “Whilst we knew it would be a challenge, we felt there was room for something a little different.”
Tempting small bites
Venice features a much more globally inspired style of cuisine than the rest of Italy due to its history as a popular gateway port, and this is reflected in Bacaro’s menu which offers diners an exciting and varied selection of dishes.
The menu starts with a wide range of nibbles, including a delicious olive tapenade bruschetta and must-order fried stuffed olives. There’s also a selection of crudo, both raw and cured, alongside a daily ceviche. Barnabas recommends ordering a small selection of the nibbles to kick-start your culinary adventure.
For our small plates, my guest and I were led by Barnabas’s recommendations. Our favourites included the chorizo stuffed calamari; the crispy lobster bites with saffron aioli; and the grilled octopus with cauliflower puree.
For traditionalists there is also a small selection of standard sized entrees, including a 14-ounce strip loin, baked whole snapper, and a seafood pasta. But, that kind of defeats the object. Bacaro is all about small plates and trying a variety of dishes.
When quizzed on a “signature” dish, Barnabas said it was hard to pick just one. “If I have to make a selection it would be the octopus, the Niman Ranch pork belly, or the wellington,” he said.
Federico added that his favourite dishes included the rosemary lamb chops with mint demi, beetroot and potato gnocchi, the veal cheek wellington, the veal liver, and the tuna tartar. Mouth watering yet?
Of course, those with a sweet tooth will find something to tempt them on the dessert menu, while wine enthusiasts will not be left disappointed either, with a carefully curated selection of hand-picked wines to choose from, alongside a delicious selection of cocktails to die for.
The restaurant’s décor is chic, modern and clean, with rustic features peppered throughout that reflect Cayman’s island locale. The dynamic duo worked closely with architect John Doak to create a modern building with clean lines, yet one that also sits seamlessly and elegantly along its waterfront location.
The open-air restaurant includes a central dining space with floor-to-ceiling doors which are flung open to create an inside-outside space. An extensive deck also includes additional dining for those that want to be right beside the water, while a comfortable lounge area offers the ideal spot for those looking to enjoy a leisurely drink and some nibbles.
Indeed, Bacaro’s tempting fare coupled with its laidback, yet elegant atmosphere, offers the ideal spot to enjoy a delicious dinner, or long leisurely lunch.
Bacaro is open Tuesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sundays 12 – 10:30 p.m. Visit bacaro.ky