In honor of World Pasta Day (October 25), I was invited to Buca di Beppo to experience their homestyle Italian dishes. I have been to "Buca" (what I call it for short) a few times in the past, mostly for work parties. It has been a while since the both of us have been to Buca so it turned out to be a nice little date night for the hubs and I.
We had a reservation at the Buca location in downtown. Upon arrival we were greeted very warmly from the hosts before taking us to our table. Our host took us through the kitchen, as part of the route to the eclectic dining room. They even have a dining table that faces the kitchen - which I have never dined at.
They seated us at the Frank Sinatra booth. This was the shrine of him to the left of the booth.
I forgot how fun the restaurant is decorated -- with many old pictures and trinkets. There is so much to see. On the ceiling was a very cool wine bottle collection.
To start, M ordered an Italian beer on draft, called Peroni based on a recommendation from our excellent server, Zo. Oops, I forgot to take a picture of it and he started drinking it.
For salads, entrees and pastas, Buca has two sizes -- small (serves 2-3) and large (serves 4-6). Everything here is served 'family style' and they have HUGE portions, even for the small sizes.
We received Italian bread with the traditional olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The bread was soft and chewy. The olive oil was fruity in flavor. The combination of oil and vinegar was perfect with every bite of the bread.
We love a good Caesar salad, especially M. I knew we had to get one since I already knew for a fact that they have a a really good one here. We ordered the small Caesar salad ($12.99). The table side presentation was new to us -- which Zo told us that it is a new thing there, only a couple months old.
He mixed in their homemade Caesar dressing, garlic croutons and Parmesan cheese....
*stir, stir, stir....*
Ta-da! Seriously, this small salad can easily serve four people...
Instead of the mozzarella garlic bread (which we went back and forth on), we ordered the Artichoke Florentine Dip ($13.49). Oh, this was so good. I loved that the dip did not have chopped spinach. It contained green, fresh spinach leaves. Yummm...
The dip was served hot. It had fresh spinach, artichokes, chopped roma tomatoes -- all swimming in a creamy mozzarella and provolone sauce. The Parmesan crostini were buttery, crunchy and just perfect for dipping. I enjoyed every bite.
Our main course arrived --Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken (small - $23.99). Think of a 'chicken parmigiana meets chicken cordon bleu.' So, a small serving comes with three, yes, three breasts stuffed with proscuitto and mozzarella, topped with marinara sauce and served on pesto cream sauce.
Elvin, the manager, cut through the chicken breast to show us the stuffed goodness...
Oh, yeahhhh. Seriously, the chicken breast was super moist. The outside of the breast was crunchy, the proscuitto was salty, the cheese and pesto cream were creamy-- so many layers of flavors and textures! Hands down, the best dish here. We chose this dish because of the picture on the menu, haha.
Elvin told us that this is one of most popular dishes and that the prep staff pounds out and stuffs the breasts by hand every morning.
We made the right decision and ordered the side order of the spaghetti marinara ($7.99) as opposed to their 'small' serving. It easily satisfied the both of us and it complimented the chicken perfectly. We even had some leftover. Simple deliciousness. The pasta was cooked al dente and the sauce tasted like fresh tomatoes, garlic and oregano.
CANNOLI!!! The dessert menu was on our table the whole time and there was a picture of these babies on there. I kept eyeing them -- I think M was too.
Chocolate Chip Cannoli ($9.95) is what we ordered. Mmm, the shells were crispy and the cannoli cream was not too sweet, however, the entire dessert was sweetened nicely by the chocolate chips in the cream - even though you cannot see them in the picture. It was a wonderful way to end our meal.
Wow. Talk about food coma! Buca di Beppo really does serve delicious homestyle Italian food. We will definitely be back! M and I left with happy tummies and with an overall excellent customer service experience.
Special thanks to the Buca di Beppo staff, especially Elvin and Zo, and to BRAINtrust.
605 6th Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
Disclaimer: The meal was complimentary. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and I was not paid to write this review.