There were troughs between Barbuzzo’s high swells. A more aggressively flavored pizza — broccoli rabe, pickled hot peppers, a house-made fennel sausage that gives Fiorella’s a run for its money — foundered on soggy crust. Too much salt (and not enough sweet chorizo, for my taste) kept the fideua, a Valencian variation on paella that replaces rice with vermicelli, from achieving its potential. Not all the grit had been washed off that kale. And though the trim Southern Euro wine list has admirable variety, the specialty cocktails left me cold — most notably an austere sidecar variation minus the Cointreau and lemon juice.
But those aren’t enough wrinkles to ruin the dress. Turney and her supporting chefs honor the Italian agriturismos that inspired Barbuzzo with a menu that changes in harmony with the harvest. In September, crisp-edged gnocchi busted out of the usual brown-butter or cheese-sauce constraints in favor of smoked corn, roasted mushrooms and some of the best cherry tomatoes of the season. A creamy lump of burrata got drenched in the mellow sweetness of vincotto, Bartlett pear and hazelnuts. October brought a Concord grape granita of wine-like depth. And Barbuzzo’s cutesy jam jars filled with chilled budino, an Italian pudding, are the last word in salted caramel.
It’s no wonder Turney and Safran say they want to move in here. Barbuzzo has the thematic unity of a finely tuned lifestyle magazine — from the affordable seasonal cooking and the urban-farmhouse vibe right down to the cross-branding display in the bathroom of business cards for their other outposts. Like the rest of their stretch of 13th Street, it’s a lifestyle worth tasting.