Of all the meals we had during our Palm Springs vacation, our dinner at Birba was my favorite. The restaurant had been recommended by several family members and friends, but what really sold us was the gluten-free menu (our birthday girl is GF). It's rare for a restaurant to have extensive gluten-free options, especially an Italian restaurant.
Birba is located directed next door to Cheeky's, where we had the yummiest brunch (I am still dreaming about those sticky taters).
The restaurant's entrance is marked with a "B."
You walk up a ramp, along a lush green wall, to greet the hostess.
On the other side of the plant wall is the most charming outdoor patio. I think as New England girls, especially girls who just experienced a brutally cold winter, there is something truly thrilling about dining al fresco.
The patio is designed for comfort, they even put pillows all along the bench seating.
We had a spacious corner table and we couldn't wait to take a look at the menu (even though we'd stalked it online). As we were perusing, we met our waitress for the evening, Bernie. She was friendly, bubbly and super sweet.
Naturally, we started with cocktails. There were many delicious sounding libations, each with a fun name.
Between the five of us we wound up with two glasses of wine (Montepulciano and Sauvignon Blanc), a Basil Spritz and a Hello Nancy (that fifth glass is soda water with a splash of cran).
The Basil Spritz is vodka, basil, lemon, prosecco and soda, which the birthday girl described as, "Very refreshing with a strong basil taste." The Hello Nancy, which was vodka, lemon, grapefruit, elder flower and soda, also got a "refreshing" comment. The Basil Spritz earned a round two.
As we looked over the food menu, we wanted all the appetizers. Eventually we settled on just two - the roasted cauliflower and the burrata. As a general life rule, if there's burrata, I get it.
The first dish to arrive was the cauliflower. It was roasted and topped with shaved parmesan cheese, capers and chili flakes.
We all agreed the cauliflower was prepared to the perfect temperature and texture. The parmesan on top was delicious and the chili flakes added a nice heat. We made this disappear pretty quickly.
Next up was the burrata cheese with yellow tomatoes, peaches and triangles of pizza dough.
A friend piped up, "Is burrata usually this liquid-y?" It was true, the burrata had been sliced in a way where it had thinned out a bit, which was a bummer. Several of us wished the pizza dough had been grilled or charred, because it was really flavorless on its own. All that being said, the cheese paired wonderfully with both the tomatoes and the peaches.
After the appetizers, we sampled two of the signature pasta dishes - the lobster ravioli and the zucchini spaghetti. The lobster ravioli was plated beautifully, garnished with corn, tomato and lemon.
Two raviolis in, a friend shared, "This dish is bright and full of flavor. There is a ton of lobster in each pasta pouch. You can tell the pasta is homemade and with each bite you really get that fresh seafood taste."
The birthday girl and I shared the zucchini spaghetti with broccoli and spinach, made with zucchini spirals for noodles.
We each twirled a healthy portion onto our forks and were surprised to discover the dish was served hot. We were both expecting it to be cold. While the zucchini was tasty, it was overshadowed by the freshly grated parmesan, which dramatically enhanced each bite.
Post-pasta we readied ourselves for the pizza course. Before I share the pies were ordered, Birba runs a very cool special each night where the proceeds from a specific pizza are donated to charity in the local community. Bernie clued us in to the organization and the pizza flavor, but I forgot to write it down. Shoot!
We ordered three pies and the first to arrive was the Birba, topped with prosciutto, honey and chili oil.
I asked the girls for their thoughts and I heard, "Fantastic! Perfect!" One friend went on to say, "There is such a nice balance of sweet and heat from the honey and the chili oil. The prosciutto is very good and the pizza base is classic - exactly what you want from this style of 'za."
Pizza number two was the homemade classic, which featured mushrooms, onions and Italian sausage.
After a couple slices, a friend chimed in, "This a really solid slice of pizza. I was worried there might be too many toppings to even lift the slice, but it's exactly the right ratio."
I shared the braised greens pizza with the birthday girl, on gluten-free crust. It was topped with greens, serrano chilis, green olives and smoked mozzarella.
Though I usually love spice, but the serrano chilis were so hot that I almost couldn't finish my slices without chugging water. That said, the gluten-free crust was really yummy and had an excellent crunch. They also offer cauliflower crust for any of their pizzas.
Before we had even seen a dessert menu, Bernie surprised all of us (but especially the birthday girl) with a spontaneous delivery of a dessert with candles.
Bernie remembered she was gluten-free and selected the salted butterscotch pudding, which she and the team treated us to, on the house. The pudding was unbelievably decadent, with a light sprinkling of salt on top. Pudding and mousse can be dense or overly rich, but this struck just the right balance. I wanted to lick the bowl.
Since we were already in feasting mode, we also ordered two more desserts - the pistachio ice cream and something called the chocolate nemesis.
The pistachio ice cream was green (I know people feel strongly about green vs. white) and had a really nice, nutty taste to it. It was ice cold, which was welcome in the desert.
The chocolate nemesis is a gluten-free chocolate cake, topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. The cake itself was so rich that between all five of us, we only finished half.
As we were enjoying our dessert, we started to notice group of girls file in who seemed to be dressed . . . like elderly woman going to the casino? There were about 20 of them and finally we pulled one aside to ask what they were dressed up for and she replied, "It's a Golden Girls-themed bachelorette party!" The women had gone all out - wigs, hats, glasses, sequin dresses, fanny packs, panty hose - it was incredible.
Though we weren't dolled up in Golden Girls garb, we did ask Bernie to snap a photo of all of us.
Our Birba dinner is one of my happiest memories from our Palm Springs getaway. If you're planning a trip, absolutely carve out time to have dinner here. They take reservations!