Fun, Family-style Dining at Buca di Beppo

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

In the Cardinal room at the new Buca di Beppo at the Original Farmers Market, you can dine at the Pope’s table where a plexiglass box holds a bust of the pontiff. It’s fun to spin the lazy Susan resting in the middle of the table, and the Pope looks you directly eye if the round-about stops in front of you.

The walls are filled with decorations and whimsical photos of famous and happy Italians.

This is the 21st Buca di Beppo location in California.

Looking over the menu, most of the items are served family style with two portion sizes – Buca small that serves two to three people and Buca large that serves up to five guests. Since there were just three of us, we started with the small vegetarian pizza on thin pizza dough with crisp edges. Not only did it have broccoli, tomatoes, onions and peppers, but it had breaded eggplant pieces, too. Our server brought two large Italian tomato cans to our table to elevate the pizza to eye level.

Photo by Jill Weinlein
Photo by Jill Weinlein

Salads are always good with pizza, so we ordered the classic apple Gorgonzola salad with slices of Granny Smith apples, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, dried cranberries and spiced walnuts. They also make a chopped antipasto in a rainbow of colors served in a large bowl with mixed lettuce, sliced pepperoni, chopped red onion, diced provolone cheese, cubed cucumbers, crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, sliced pepperoncini, oregano, diced Roma tomatoes and kalamata olives with a light Italian dressing.

Guests can pair their dishes with a variety of Italian wines. Many can be ordered by the glass, or in a little larger 9 oz. pour that comes in a small glass carafe. There is also a bottle of traditional Chianti on every table. Chianti is made in the Tuscany region and is an Italian favorite that is sometimes wrapped in a wicker basket. It goes well with the spaghetti and famous Buca meatballs that are large, dense and meaty. Our server Justin aimed to please. When we thought the spaghetti was a little dry, he happily brought out more sauce. The servers are extremely friendly and seem to be enjoying their job at this location.

If you order the linguine frutti del mar, a glass of crisp pinot grigio is a light summer wine to pair with the dish.

IMG_1369
Photo by Jill Weinlein

The rosso is an ideal red wine to pair with the chicken saltimbocca topped with prosciutto and sage. There is a sprinkling of artichoke hearts, lemon slices, capers and a glistening lemon butter sauce bringing this chicken dish to a new level.

Guests receive warm Italian bread with oil and balsamic vinegar. They also make a cheese garlic bread that is sinfully good. Both are great for dipping in the Italian sauces on each entrée, especially the layered eggplant Parmigiana, topped with Buca’s homemade marinara sauce, chopped Roma tomatoes, chopped basil and mozzarella.

My favorite dishes are the chicken or veal Marsala cooked until tender, with just a hint of sweetness from the Marsala wine and covered with fresh mushrooms. I also enjoy the broccoli with a pinch of garlic, red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese.

For little ones with little appetites, Buca offers a kid’s menu that includes six different items and a drink.

I dare you and your party to eat an entire “colossal brownie sundae.” It’s sure to capture attention in the dining room and worthy of accolades to those who finish the enormous dessert. A martini glass is filled with freshly baked Ghirardelli chocolate brownies loaded with Ghirardelli chocolate chips. The brownies are layered with six scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Caramel and chocolate sauces top the ice cream before a mound of whipped cream is swirled making the dessert even taller. Of course it is finished with a cherry or two and a few sprinkles to make it festive.

Buca di Beppo is a birthday celebration destination. They have a special sign stating “Happy Birthday to you” that will be placed on your table and the staff sings a very festive Buca di Beppo birthday song. You will hear the rendition sung at various tables throughout your dining experience.

Tell them it’s your birthday when you make a reservation, and they will present you with a free birthday cake, as long as it is within 30 days of the actual day. This new dining destination is attracting locals as well as tourists visiting Los Angeles, thanks to its food, decor and prime location.

$$ – 6333 W. 3rd Street (323)370-6560. Located in the former Planet Dailies space, next to Mixology 101, the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

This review was featured in the July 27 issue of the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News – http://beverlypress.com/2016/07/fun-family-style-dining-at-buca-di-beppo/

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