Down a mysterious alleyway is the entrance for the ultra sexy and sleek resto Buca. Set in a historical boiler room with high ceilings and exposed brick walls, this restaurant has been garnering a lot of attention and most recently named one of the top restaurants for 2009 in Toronto Life Magazinel. It's no wonder the speakeasy feel creates a certain appeal for those only in the know and buzzing with energy.
The service from the moment we arrived to the wait staff were attentive and amazing although we were warned otherwise. Our server Jasper was knowledgeable and was attentive to all our needs. My friend Pete and I were seated shortly after we arrived and ironically my big sis Charise was also there with her man - Andrew at the other end of the restaurant. Charise's original table was next to a very noisy party and since we had seats next to us open, they were moved and we became a foursome.
Charise was treating Andrew to a very special early birthday dinner and the atmosphere of Buca was ideal for a romantic evening. Check out her chronicles of her dinner out here at Lucky Penny
The menu changes daily with the availability of seasonal ingredients and it reads from cold dishes to hot ones from left to right and the general premise is Italian and specialty meats. Waiting at the bar was a gorgeous cut of ham tempting us to order it and waiting to be thinly shaved.
The things that we had: the bread knots as a pre-appetizer - they looked like little buttery escargots and they were heavenly and so savory. Pete and I decided on a veal carpaccio to sample some more of Buca's meat selection and it was well presented and very fresh.
For mains- Charise got her favourite which was spaghetti carbonara- a white pasta with panchetta. It was very well flavoured with the saltiness of the panchetta and Parmesan with the creaminess of the sauce and pasta. Andrew got the veal stuffed agnolotti- perfectly tender and gamey pasta dressed with a fresh tomato sauce. Pete and I shared the duck pasta - very smoky and gamey in flavour and and the pasta was perfectly dressed. We also ordered the prosciutto pizza because after seeing the gorgeous piece on the bar- I wanted to try some. The pizza came as a giant rectangle with a perfect thin crust. The comment of the night was from my good friend Pete who remarked that he appreciated the scissors that came with the pizza instead of the knife. The pizza was the show stopper of the evening for me as the crust had the 'crunch' factor and the prosciutto was pure goodness!
We had a late night addition to our group when my friend Marcello walked in and he ordered the polenta topped with a lamb ragu - the polenta which was presented on a board was amazing - light, fluffy and seasoned well. The lamb was tender and juicy while not over powering the polenta. It was also a bit hit at the table. We ended the evening with a spread of desserts to celebrate Andrew's birthday including their house made tiramisu, cannolis filled with chocolately goodness and a pear tart filled with a mild goats cheese. Mmmmm!!!
I will definitely be back soon to try some more delicious food and enjoy the vibrancy of the restaurant.
**** 1/2 stars
Buca, 602 King West (at Portland, down an alleyway next to Cheval)
Hours:Lunch: Mon. to Fri.: 11:00am - 3:00pm
Dinner: Mon. to Wed. 5:00pm - 10:00pm
Thu. to Sat.: 5:00pm - 11:00pm
Dinner for 2 with a bottle of wine- $200 with gratuity