Have you ever heard of a cicchetti bar? As a matter of fact, neither had I until I went to Bar Ombra in Andersonville, a Venetian-style bar from Marty Fosse and Tim Rasmussen with decor that feels more like a Southwestern saloon.
Surrounded by walls papered with ancient Italian newsprint, you’ll sit in high-backed wooden booths or at the long, deli-counter style glass-fronted cicchetti bar that that runs along one side of the restaurant. The restaurant feels cozy and intimate, the kind of place where you’d want to linger over a glass of Barolo.
Even more alluring than the decor is the unique menu, that focuses primarily on “cicchetti,” or Italian small plates – think salad, tiny sandwiches, panzanella and roasted vegetables that can be likened to Spanish tapas. The selection is extensive and if you need help making a decision, peer into the glass case that displays most of the cold and room temperature options, such as farro salad with asparagus, green garlic and lemon or an Italian spin on grilled chicken salad with basil pesto, olives, raisins and sundried tomato
If you’re craving hot food, pick from a small selection of warm cicchetti, like tender and juicy beef meatballs that are crispy on the outside and bathed in a bright, delicious tomato sauce. The menu also touts a variety of larger plates that are appropriate for sharing or for one person to enjoy as an entree – think skirt steak, polenta crusted soft-shelled crab and cod cooked in parchment with spinach, preserved lemon and basil.
Bar Ombra has a regional, mostly Italian wine list with plenty of varietals. The staff knows their wine – I told my server what types of wine I typically like and she recommend a glass of Buglioni L’intruso Garganega, a crisp white wine with notes of fresh citrus. The cocktail list offers some nice, classic cocktails (think: negroni, procescco, Aperol, butters) but if you’re looking for a beer selection, head to Hopleaf down the street for post-dinner libations.