Photos by Justin Fox Burks
The only pastry that trumps the remarkable cinnamon roll at Bari Ristorante's Sunday brunch, pictured above, is the Nutella roll with bits of chocolate and a subtle hazelnut flavor.
Five or six years ago, we finally went to Bari Ristorante because one of our co-workers had been nonstop singing the Italian restaurant’s praises. She just wouldn’t stop talking about the cheese with hay on it. We trusted her recommendation, so we went the restaurant in Overton Square and loved it, too, so much so that we don’t remember our first meal at Bari because there have been so many others since.
And then more recently, we saw an unforgettable post on Instagram about the new Bari Sunday brunch. Specifically, one mesmerizing icing-the-cinnamon-roll video kept looping in our minds. It was exciting to anticipate chef-owner Jason Severs’s take on a brandnew meal, and we were psyched to get our 10:30 a.m. reservation one beautiful, chilly Sunday earlier this fall.
Of course, we tried a cinnamon roll, and not only was it replete with all the different crusty and soft textures a great cinnamon roll must have, it also was fluffy, yeasty, warm, and not overly sweet. After sharing that roll, we added a Nutella roll to our order for a point of comparison. Flecks of dark chocolate and a subtle hazelnut flavor made this roll even better. Six dollars may seem a bit much for one pastry, but honestly, these rolls would pretty much be worth twenty bucks plus.
When we saw an egg sandwich listed as “fried egg, lettuce, tomato” on the menu, we figured that it was going to be the perfect iteration. Wouldn’t it be the kind of thing a talented chef like Severs wows his family with at home but then acts all modest about it when anyone else exclaims? Of course, the fried egg sandwich was just that. The grilled bread was key, giving this vegetarian sandwich a smoky, savory element that slyly referenced the usual bacon. Surprisingly, the house-made bread wasn’t the usual thin slices of sour, dense Bari bread we love to eat straight from the server’s basket with olive oil many a weekend night, but it was its own thing: rustic, light, and crisp.
We also had to try eggs with an Italian spin, including grilled polenta, tomato, basil, garlic, and fresh mozzarella. We ordered them poached with fruit on the side. The concentrated tomato sauce was memorable, and our server called this one of her favorite dishes.
The yogurt, local honey, fruit, and granola bowl just solidified our ideas about the menu: One doesn’t have to be all newfangled and showy to put out the very best version of brunch classics.
The laid-back atmosphere makes brunch at Bari an ideal place to go first thing on Sunday morning like we did, or to stop by anytime before 1:30 p.m. Service is professional and focused on the patron’s comfort, but also friendly and sweet.
We love that one of our favorite places to linger over a meal has opened its doors on Sunday for brunch. We’re looking forward to making our way through the menu just like we have time and time again at dinner.
Bari Ristorante, 22 South Cooper (901-722-2244) $-$$
Brunch on Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
(Editor’s Note: Best Bets for Brunch is an occasional series on Memphis Stew highlighting weekend brunch, one of the city’s popular pastimes. Earlier posts include brunch at Café Eclectic in Midtown.)
Brunch at Bari Ristorante is served on Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.