Eat pizza, drink and be happy at Barbaro

Clams Casino pizza at Barbaro

When Barbaro first opened in 2013, I called it “sophisticated yet accessible” in a review shortly after it opened and praised it as a superior neighborhood pizza place.

Since then, it has grown even more comfortable in its skin as a neighborhood hangout. But it’s close enough to downtown and the hip areas near The Pearl to attract a broader clientele than most other neighborhood spots.

In practice, this means the dishes have maintained their quality, while the well-crafted cocktails make this a destination bar, too.

Barbaro’s dough comes from Bakery Lorraine, and it brings a slightly chewy texture with almost an undertone of sourdough flavor.

That complexity serves as an ideal canvas for the clever toppings that mark the best pies here. I’m talking about combos such as Clams Casino. It sounds like a funky pizza, but give it a chance. This one takes the New Haven, Connecticut specialty of a clam pizza and cranks up the volume with bits of bacon and a creamy white sauce. You can also create your own pizza, but why pass on so many satisfying combinations?

Meanwhile, the vegetable dishes often get overlooked, and they’re some of the best on the menu. I don’t care that kale salad has turned into a hipster dining cliché. The one here, with pumpkin seeds, sliced grapes, Gorgonzola and a lemon vinaigrette, is outstanding. Really — order less pizza and get more vegetables. They’re that good.

Since its opening, Barbaro has added a few main dish items that are best shared. I can vouch for the meatballs in marinara sauce and keep meaning to try the rest of that section of the menu — just as soon as I can tear myself away from the salads and pizzas.