The good folks at bb’s at The River know something or three about running restaurants. Jack Srebnik—who many in the desert know from his other eateries, The Slice, JT’s Diner, and Maracas (the latter of which he co-owns with Todd and Flora Flood)—is now doing a booming biz at the former location of Acqua Pazza. Alongside investor Barbara Boyajian (the bb of the eatery’s moniker), Jack has brightened up the interior with just a few minor tweaks such as the addition of hardwood floors, a fresh paint job, and the replacing of frosted glass with clear panels, which, along with judiciously placed mirrors, really opens up the space. Jack’s also hired a terrific crew of servers, bartenders, managers, and kitchen staff—including many whom regulars will recognize from the location’s previous incarnation.
And the food?! Carlos Martinez—former executive chef at 17th Street Café in Santa Monica (the super popular California cuisine hot spot which Jack once owned)—has migrated to Rancho Mirage to oversee the kitchen, and has brought a number of his time-tested recipes to the Valley. My dinner with friends the other night was a testimony to his creative concoctions! A table full of gals polished off mounds of food, and still made room for a few bites of dessert.
We started off by ordering specialty cocktails, the entire list of which consists of nifty twists on classics. As we sampled one another’s libations, we came to the conclusion that our hands-down favorite was bb’s Margarita, which includes muddled cucumber and cilantro, not to mention a touch of heat brought to the tequila, lime, and Triple Sec courtesy of Ancho Reyes, the original ancho chile liqueur imported from Mexico. Some wanted wine, and chose among bb’s 20 for 20, a fun list of red and white bottles each just for $20.
In time, we moved on to sharing a plate of Kalbi bone-in ribs (flavored with a sweet Korean marinade), a perfect pizza with barbequed chicken, and bb’s beautiful tomato, basil, buffalo mozzarella bruschetta on garlic French bread. One would think that would sate us, but no… We soldiered on with a delightful Chinese chicken salad, grilled Atlantic salmon with balsamic vinegar served over mashed potatoes with roasted veggies, and an amazing mildly spicy pasta served with seafood that included shrimp, scallops, and clams. Thankfully my gal pals are all “sharers” so we all got to sample some of everything. We settled on a made-to-order chocolate cookie pie with vanilla ice cream to top off the meal—and THEN we were full!
Open for lunch and dinner daily (with brunch on weekends), and boasting a full bar (happy hour is 3-6 p.m. and 9 to close) and a delightful patio “on the water,” bb’s is a great addition to the Rancho Mirage dining establishments that bring people from near and far to the heart of the Palm Springs Valley. www.bbsattheriver.com