Thursday, July 1, 2010

Party Time at Buca di Beppo? - CLOSED

Buca di Beppo
13390 Jamboree Road
Irvine, CA 92602

It has been about ten years since I had last gone to a Buca di Beppo. I remember the large plates of food, and all of the stuff on the walls, but I do not remember if I liked the food. This visit was for my buddy Richard's birthday.

Buca di Beppo started in 1993, in Minneapolis, and has now grown to 83 locations in 22 states. They serve everything family style, so if you are a party of two, this might not be the place for you. We had a party of nine, and wanted to try a lot of different things, so we got a lot of different items to try. Buca has two sizes of entree's for you to try, small and large sized. We opted for the small sized and sampled each others plates. Let's see how the food turned out.

For a starter someone got the Buca Trio Platter. This consisted of fried calamari, stuffed mushrooms and fried mozzarella cheese. All of these items were just okay. I liked the calamari the best out of these three. The mushrooms did not have a lot of flavor and the cheese tasted like fried cheese you could get anywhere. For a place that prides itself on serving big orders, I thought this was an average sized appetizer platter.

We also got an order of Garlic Bread. I liked the flavor of this bread and really liked that there were whole slices of garlic on this. The bread part of this could have been better, and more cheese would have made this better.

My pick for a dish was the Chicken Saltimbocca. Chicken breast layered with prosciutto and sage, topped with capers, lemon butter sauce, and artichoke hearts. This was probably the least liked dish out of the six we got. They needed to have more sauce on here, and some cheese would have been great on this. It was kind of a dry dish.

The Chicken Parmigiana did not get passed my way, so I am not sure how this was. I did get up to take a picture though. It looked like your typical chicken parm. No one really raved about this dish either.

We next got the Nine Layer Lasagna. I have included a picture from their website to show the difference between what we got, and how it looks on their menu. I am not bashing on their lasagna, but look how much more watery the sauce is in the one that we got, compared to the one in the picture. Also note the absence of all the ricotta cheese. Our table liked the lasagna, but again they did not rave about it.

These last three dishes were the big winners for the night at our table. Starting with the above, Linguine Frutti Mare. This entree included baby clams, mussels, shrimp and calamari in a red clam sauce. The sauce tasted great and the seafood was cooked well. They were giving with the mussels, but they were a little stingy with the shrimp and calamari. I usually am not a big fan of linguine, but this dish tasted great to me, mainly because of the sauce and the mussels.

My friend Louie chose the Penne Arrabbiata. This had a nice kick to it. The penne was cooked well, and the crushed red pepper flakes really had a kick. The sausage was a little dried out, but there was enough sauce on this to hide that. I would definitely get this again.

This last plate was my favorite of the night, the Spicy Chicken Rigatoni. This new dish at Buca was cooked with garlic and peppers, peas, and a spicy red sauce. The spice was not over powering on this one, but it was noticeable. Again they were a little stingy with the chicken, but still this was a solid dish. 

I have mixed feelings about Buca di Beppo. It was difficult for me to write this entry of my blog. I was not inspired by the food. The food was not horrible, but it was not great either. You have to hunt through their menu to find decent items.  In my opinion it is better than Olive Garden, but not as good as Maggiano's. I like the atmosphere here, the service was good, and it seemed like everyone was having a good time.

Out of five basements, (because Buca di Beppo translated from Italian means, Joe's basement), five being best to zero being worst, Buca di Beppo gets 2.5 basements.

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