We’re all used to wine bars and restaurants pairing wine to match specific dishes, but what if one were to select the varietal first and then create a dish to either complement or contrast with the wines. Say what?
That’s the focus of Parigo — “pairing” in Esperanto, the international language developed in the 1940s — a self-defined wine bar that opened on Scott Street in late September. While it boasts a vast wine list that includes varietals from around the world served by the glass and by the bottle, Parigo also offers a well-executed dinner menu designed around the wine.
The concept for Parigo was developed by Sarah Trubnick, its owner, wine director, and sommelier. Trubnick attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York and after obtaining her sommelier certification, traveled through the wine regions of Europe, Australia, and South America.
When Trubnick returned to San Francisco, she opened the original Barrel Room in 2011. She opened a second Barrel Room in Oakland in 2013, followed by the popular Barrel Room San Francisco in the Financial District in 2015.
It was Trubnick’s passion for wine that inspired Parigo. She says, “I have been designing educational wine lists at The Barrel Room for seven years. Our guests love learning while drinking; our menus there takes guests to different areas of the world every quarter, and feature some amazingly obscure wines.”
At Parigo, Trubnick continues to stress an educational theme, but in a slightly different way. “[T]his time our menus demonstrate how wine and food can work together in harmony and create a totally unique experience,” she says. With the wine list as the foundation, the pairings are viewed as components of the dishes. Ideally, she hopes this will lead “to some unforgettable pairing experiences.”
Parigo’s wine list incorporates wines that are Trubnick’s favorites; they tend to be small-production, unique, international varietals. She handpicks every wine; these rotate as the restaurant’s dishes evolve. More than 50 wines by the glass are offered with prices ranging from $12 to $50 a glass, although most range from $12 to $20, and half glasses are available. There are more than 120 bottles available, including magnums and half bottles.
Damiaen Hollings of Damiaen Hollings Design and Construction designed Parigo’s fashionably spare setting enhanced by sparkly drop lighting and chandeliers, a wood-slab bar, a back patio compete with a fire pit and outdoor seating, unique art, and, of course, a floor-to-ceiling wine cabinet. Why did Trubnick choose the Marina? “We found the old Bin 38 space,” she says, “and fell in love with it. It offered us the perfect intimate, warm space for our concept.”
Executive chef Manuel Hewitt and chef de cuisine Danny Murica have together crafted the small but elegant menu, which changes frequently. Each dish is listed with four wines (two complements and two contrasts, offered by the glass) that were the inspiration for the dish.
For example, for the creamy cauliflower soup ($9), a 2014 Massa “Derthona” and a 2015 Tyler “Zotovich” Chardonnay are the complementary wines, and a 2015 Nikolaihof Hefeabzurg Gruner and a 2015 Valle Isacaro schiava are meant to provide a contrast to the dish.
Herein lies my issue with this concept. Not only are all the wines on the dinner menu listed in lower case so it isn’t clear which is the vineyard and which is the varietal, but also there are no prices listed. Our server was incredibly knowledgeable about both the menu and the wines, but unless you ask, you have to cross reference the extensive wine list to understand exactly what you’re ordering and the price — which is why I found myself drinking a delightful rosé brut that was $18 a glass. Tastes and half glasses are also available, and there are plenty of selections on the wine list.
All of the savory mains, such as butternut squash and parmesan cream taglietelle with grilled baby zucchini, goat cheese, and wild mushrooms ($20); sesame-crusted steelhead trout with roasted garlic hummus, green apple and avocado mousse ($28); and a vegetarian dish of baked eggplant and roasted tomato flan with squash, cauliflower soubise (onion sauce), sautéed spinach $18) also come with four suggested wines. There are also desserts that include spiced carrot cake ($10), a double chocolate cookie ($10), and a sommelier’s cheese plate with fresh fruit and baguette ($20).
More of a hybrid restaurant and wine bar than either one in its own, Parigo is an intriguing new spot for wine and food lovers.
Parigo: 3232 Scott St., dinner Tue.–Sun. 5–10 p.m., 415-580-7080, parigosf.com