To say that I like cheese would be akin to saying that Twilight is a popular franchise; it would be correct, but entirely missing the scope of the thing. I’ve often thought of becoming a vegetarian and could probably make the transition relatively painlessly, but I had to give up on Mark Bittman’s vegan-til-six diet after only a day or two because I couldn’t stand to be without cheese.
So when presented with the opportunity to enjoy a lunch entirely centered on the appreciation of cheese, well, one could say I was pleased with the idea. I rounded up some girlfriends and headed to the Holiday neighborhood in far north Boulder for a ladies’ lunch at Bacco Trattoria and Mozzarella Bar. The restaurant has a trendy downtown vibe in this funky little neighborhood with chic condos on two sides and a run-down gas station and farm store on the other two.
We tried not to be overwhelmed by the choices; Bacco offers the mozzarella bar menu as well as a full lunch menu during the day. We decided to focus on the cheeses—it was a smart choice.
We ended up with three cheese plates to share: the ricotta with marinated zucchini, mint and arugula; the burrata with green tomato relish and marinated eggplant; and the bufala mozzarella with pesto, organic roasted peppers and Parma prosciutto. The bufala mozzarella was hands down our favorite, with perfect texture and just the right amount of saltiness. The burrata was delicious, soft and creamy, but we all felt the ricotta lacked punch. We also tried the avocado bruschette, topped with sliced avocado, goat cheese, red onions and a sweet red chili sauce. The chilis brought in a hint of Asian flavors that knocked this one absolutely out of the park.
Intrigued, I decided to go back to try their dinner menu, which is populated with traditional Italian and Italian-American favorites. We had a flatbread appetizer with goat cheese, prosciutto and honey that was rich and well balanced but surprisingly complicated to eat. My Bacco salad was also flavorful with pungent cheese and sweet pears, but again, a bit difficult to enjoy (the hearts of romaine needed to be cut, and I ended up spraying myself liberally with the balsamic vinaigrette). For a main course, I ordered a dinner special that came with mushroom stuffed tortellini, sliced sausage and asparagus in a cream sauce. Rich and flavorful, the tortellini and sauce did not disappoint, but the sausage, while perfectly acceptable, lacked punch and spice. My husband’s pollo saltimbocca, however, was expertly prepared and a delight.
For novelty and sheer simplicity, I would have to recommend the mozzarella bar over the main menu; the delicious and unencumbered pairings of cheeses and condiments made for a lovely European-style light meal that left me wanting more even as I was stuffed silly.
Bacco Trattoria and Mozzarella Bar
1200 Yarmouth Ave., Unit A, Boulder
Bottom Line: A unique way to experience a pleasant plethora of cheese.