Behind the Stick with Eva L. Caló of Officine Buona Forchetta
Hailing from Milan, Italy, Eva L. Calò is the head bartender at Officine Buona Forchetta, located at the heart of Liberty Station in Point Loma. Inspired by the summers she spent working at bars on the beaches of southern Italy, Eva has a passion for creating and tasting new, innovative cocktails and views bartending not only a job, but also an artform. Eva shows us how to make the classic Negroni Sbagliato. Instead of gin, Prosecco is used. Sbagliato means “messed up” or “mistaken” in Italian. In 1972, Mirko Stocchetto at the Bar Basso in Milan added sparkling wine instead of the gin by mistake to a Negroni, hence the name “Mistaken” Negroni.
What's the story behind this cocktail?
At Barbasso, one of the first cocktail bars in Milan, Italy, a bartender was rushing to make a regular negroni but in her haste, confused the bottle of gin with a bottle of prosecco. Turns out it was a happy mistake as the customer who received the drink came up and told the bartender she liked it better than the original. Thus, the Negroni Sbagliato (or “wrong Negroni” in Italian) was born.
If you had to pair this cocktail with a dish, what would you pair it with?
A Negroni Sbagliato is perfect as an Aperitivo cocktail, so I’d recommend it with a crunchy focaccia with slices of Proscuitto Crudo di Parma, rosemary and EVOO, or a white-based pizza with speck, walnuts and a drizzle of honey.
What kind of experience can diners expect at Officine Buona Forchetta?
As soon as you walk in Buona Forchetta, don’t expect to be greeted in English. We are all from different cities in Italy and will give you a warm “Buonasera!” Most of our products are from Italy and our pizzaioli are from Naples or Rome, two major pizza cities.
You’ll see our waiters using their hands to express what they need to say, but don’t worry, that’s just us being in our own little Italian world.
About Eva L. Caló
Are you from San Diego?
No, I’m from Milan, Italy.
How has your journey been leading up to your role at Officine Buona Forchetta?
I’ve always been fascinated by working in the restaurant business and I’ve always loved the idea of living in California. When I came to San Diego for the first time, I was just visiting the city and ended up going to Buona Forchetta one night craving pizza. I got to meet Matteo, the owner and founder of Buona Forchetta, because he noticed me speaking Italian. He then asked me if I had any desire to work there since they needed a bartender and I took that opportunity without hesitation.
How do you feel about the bar scene here in San Diego?
I think that there’s a good mix of bars and you can find something that fits everyone. It’s definitely still evolving.
What's your favorite cocktail on the menu?
The Italian Drop: vodka, triple sec, fresh lemon juice, limoncello from Italy, garnished with a sugar rim Define the perfect cocktail: I’ll take anything with Campari, even just Campari on the rocks with a twist of orange.
What's your favorite drink to make behind the bar?
Aperol Spritz and Old Fashion
What's your favorite spirit?
What is one thing you wish people understood about bartending?
Be patient and be precise.
What should everyone stock in their home bar?
Campari, Aperol, Bourbon and tequila for the party people. What do you do in your spare time when you're not creating cocktails?
I really enjoy exploring new restaurants and openings in San Diego and checking out what other businesses are doing.
What's next for you?
Since I’m also studying to be a nutritionist and I love bartending, I would love to combine the two and be able to create healthy cocktails.