Sherman's Food Adventures: Bacio Rosso

Bacio Rosso

I'm sure most people are familiar with Cirque du Soleil, which sets up shop in its unmistakable yellow and blue tent near Science World.  I've experienced it before and it is a great show with deft-defying acts mixed in with a bit of humour.  However, one thing that hasn't been a "thing" in Vancouver is a dinner AND show that encompasses elements such as Cirque du Soleil.  For those who are unaware, we do indeed have something that blends live music (and singing), comedy and acrobatic feats into one show that includes a 3-course dinner.  That is Bacio Rosso, also in a big tent, located in Queen Elizabeth Park until March 10th.  Recently, I was invited (along with Jacqueline) to catch their show as well as dine on food designed by Chef Adam Pegg of La Quercia.

We were seated in the premium ring that had good views of the centre stage and the band at the front.  These seats cost $179.00, but one could book the booths on the outer ring for as low as $149.00.  When we arrived (about 45 minutes before the start of the show), we waited for the doors to open in lobby of sorts where a bar was available as well as washrooms.  One good thing about being located in QE Park was that free parking was available.  As mentioned, the show itself blends many elements and it started off with strong vocals from charismatic Lady Rizo along with music from Combo de Luxe.  From there, the show was a riot where they involved many audience members.  At one point, we even formed a conga line!

Prior to the start of the show, some Antipasto was already sitting at the table including Pork Loin Tonnato, Pork Crackling, Grissini (bread stick), Giardiniera (pickles) and a Green Salad.  These were pleasant and a nice start to the food portion of the show.  The thinly sliced pork loin was buttery and tender with only a mild saltiness.  The dollop of tonnato on top was more than enough to provide a creamy appealing fishiness as well as a kick of salty tang from the capers.  A solid crunch was provided by the bread stick and a light airy crispiness from the crackling.  Nothing really much to say about the salad other than it was fresh with plenty of crunchy texture while it was dressed in an acidic vinaigrette.  Naturally, drinks were an extra cost, but they were reasonably-priced.

Onto the first course, we were each served Melanzana alla Parmigiana (Eggplant Lasagna).  This was soft and cheesy with layers of tender eggplant.  I thought the tomato sauce was quite balanced where I could get some tanginess, but mostly it was mild and blended into the rest of the lasagna.  I would've liked the texture to be a touch firmer, but considering the amount of dishes going out and limited kitchen facilities, this was more than acceptable.  We ended up getting all 3 main dishes including the Rosticciata di Manzo (Slow Roasted Beef) with roasted root veggies.  The best part of the dish was the red wine sauce as it was silky, full-of-depth and necessary for the dish.  This was because some parts of the beef were a bit dry (other parts were tender and fatty though) and the sauce helped keep things moist.  

Before I get into the rest of the entree options, I need to reference the entertainment while we were dining.  As mentioned, there was a little of everything including crowd participation.  The show was pretty high-paced, so we needed to pay attention to get the gist of what was going on.  With that being said, they were able to seamlessly incorporate the dinner into the show with short breaks to serve the dishes.  I was actually putting off going to the washroom so that I wouldn't miss anything!  Most of the performances were located at centre stage and above as well as the stage at the front with the band.  However, the cast did not hesitate to go right into the crowd where we certainly felt part of the show.

The other meat option was the Pollo in Umido (Braised Chicken) with roasted parsnips.  Visually, this was not very pretty since it was pale on pale.  However, the chicken leg itself was really tender and moist.  I would've preferred a roasted chicken leg instead, but again, due to the limited kitchen facilities, that might've not been possible.  Flavours were very subtle where the herbs came through, but it could've used more salt.  Surprisingly, our favourite entree was the vegetarian option in the Polenta con Funghi (Polenta with Mushrooms).  The polenta could've been creamier and saltier, but the ample amount of buttery mushrooms on top helped alleviate that issue, especially after mixing it altogether.  Caramelized and well-seasoned, the earthy mushrooms added both the necessary flavour and textures to create good dish.

For dessert, there was only one option for dessert being the Crema di Limone (Lemon Cream).  That wasn't a problem as it was really good!  The lemon curd was creamy and rich with a nice mouth-feel (silky).  Restrained but still definitely there, the sweetness really complimented the noted tang from the fresh lemons.  Good for colour but also for another layer of fruity sweetness, the syrupy strawberries were tasty little nuggets to go with the lemon.  This was a sweet end to a wonderful experience that had no problem commanding my complete attention.  I really enjoyed the whimsical nature of the performance as well as the strong vocals.  Pricing was reasonable considering that dinner was included.  I would say that the show itself was the highlight while the food was hit and miss.  However, given the limited kitchen facilities, the menu had to be designed with that in mind.  I look at it this way, the show was good on its own.  The food was thrown in as a bonus.

*Show and food was complimentary*

The Good:
- Strong performances from a likable cast
- Good location at QE Park, accessible with available free parking
- Pleasing decor

The Bad:
- Food was okay, but not the highlight

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