On February 15th, 2019 my boyfriend and I went to Bari Trattoria in the Whitaker Neighborhood in Eugene. As this was an important date, I don’t have photos of the food we were served, but have hopefully described it sufficiently.
The building was once home to Papa’s Soul Food. I have not been in there since that time. Needless to say it was quite a stark difference! The indoor seating has rearranged and decreased in number, and it looks as though a bar has been added; I can’t recall if there was one prior. The staff was very friendly and greeted us both with smiles. I had placed a reservation since it was so close to Valentine’s Day, but at 6:30 on a Friday, there were still 4 tables available.
The decore inside was dark and dim, and reminiscent of the dark bars I frequented in France with beige walls, dark wood, and low lights. For drinks I had the whiskey special of the evening, my boyfriend had the Claudia Cardinale. The whiskey special had a twist of citrus and berry and was very refreshing while respecting the integrity of the whiskey, but a tad on the sweet side. The Cardinale, a vodka based drink with fresh fruit infusions, was served cold no ice and was very refreshing.
As an appetizer we shared the Pugliese which was two slices of grilled pugliese bread covered in warmed chèvre cheese, roasted garlic cloves over a bed of mixed greens with a light dressing. For a $7 appetizer it was a little under whelming only in the sense that it was not made clear to us if the bread was house made, or brought in from else where. If this was in-house bread, then yes $7 is understandable otherwise I would not expect to pay more than $5 for two slices, perhaps 3 slices. The flavor however was quite robust but not overpowering. The greens were a great addition to put on top of the bread to have that flare of citrus with the garlic and chèvre.
I ordered the Italian Stallion Panini served with polenta fries, my boyfriend ordered the Ravioli di Salsiccia, a ravioli stuffed with a four cheese blend, a house Italian sausage, and served with Swiss chard. The Italian Stallion panini was very large and had wonderful flavored from the pulled pork, roasted goat peppers and enchanting aioli. The house aioli was darker than I expected and had hints of smoke that complimented well with the pulled pork which was perfectly tender and succulent. The dish was also served with some marinara sauce for dipping topped with melted parmesan as well as parmesan over the large polenta fries. The sandwich was so filling that my boyfriend helped me finish the polenta fries which I think worked in his favor as his ravioli dish was served with 6-7 ravioli along with the chard. This may seem small, but one must keep in mind that their pasta is made in house and that Italian sausage is also house made. And I assume also all the sauces were as well though I did not get a chance to ask our server. He reported that the ravioli were more than satisfactory and with the appetizer he was pleasantly, not overly full. I should mention also that the ravioli were not small, they were a two-bite item.
We forewent the dessert option for the check. The price was acceptable for two house cocktails, appetizer, and two main dishes. The servers and waitstaff were also exceptionally friendly and attentive without being overbearing and were knowledgable about specials and the food served.
All in all a very pleasant experience and I would recommend it to those seeking a nice restaurant with a cozy and warm atmosphere. In terms of intimacy, many of the tables did not allow for you to have your own “space”. Indeed side conversation was really the only downside to the small space. It was difficult to have a conversation at a comfortable level that didn’t feel a little forced. Perhaps if there were some blocks installed in the ceiling to absorb sound that may help, or some carpets on the floor.
I would give it 4/5 stars.