On Saturday night, after our fun outing to the Carolina Renaissance Festival, the Husband and I got together with Matt for dinner and a movie. (Kath was out in San Fran enjoying the first ever Foodbuzz Festival!) The Husband and I had a gift card to Buca di Beppo that we wanted to use and it’s a great restaurant to go to with a group (anything larger than a couple). A couple could certainly have a date night here, but it’s definitely more suitable for larger groups.
The only North Carolina Buca di Beppo is located right here in Charlotte outside of the Carolina Place mall.
Buca (what we and likely others call it for short) is a family style italian restaurant with lots of flair. Every location I’ve been to has been decorated pretty much the same. Photos all over the walls, checkered table cloths, and booths galore…
There are booths of all sizes and even one in the kitchen where you can watch your food being prepared. For extra large groups, there is one large table that seats 17. You’ll certainly need a reservation for that room!
In general, Friday and Saturday nights are super busy. We arrived around 6:30 and were told it would be an hour to an hour and a half wait. We decided to stick it out and get a drink in the bar while we caught up. The boys each got a beer (Sam Adams and Peroni) while I had a glass of Chardonnay.
Once seated, the Husband and I noticed the change style of menu. They used to have the placemats as the menus but they had recently changed them to bound menus (with lots of fun pictures!).
When you order, everything is either “small” or “large.” Small is supposed to be for 2-3 people and large is 4-6. If you order a number of items, however, many more people could share the small items (a good thing to keep in mind that I often forget when I go here – resulting in lots of leftovers!).
We started off with an order of calamari. It was really good (for a non-seafood area). Tasty and not rubbery (it’s always so sad when you get rubbery calamari in restaurants).
Next, we shared the warm tomato and spinach salad. It included baby spinach tossed with a warm balsamic vinaigrette, red onions, tomatoes, spiced pecans and goat cheese. Yum!
For the entrees, the Husband immediately suggested the Chicken Saltimbocca, his favorite at Buca (and at many other locations). It is a dish of sautéed chicken breasts layered with fresh sage and prosciutto, topped with artichoke hearts, our lemon butter sauce and capers. The small was a perfect size for us as it had 3 chicken breasts.
My contribution to the entrees was the Baked Rigatoni. It included rigatoni, meat sauce, italian sausage, mozarella, and ricotta cheese.
And last but not least, Matt had the Husband and I choose between two selections: the Penne Arrabbiata or the Spaghetti and Meatballs. While we knew that the spaghetti and meatballs are quite good here, we went with the penne arrabbiata as we fell in love with this type of sauce when we were in Italy last December (blog posts still to come on that trip!). This version also came with italian sausage.
Unfortunately, the Husband and I were not impressed with the sausage additions to either dish. I ended up picking a bunch of mine out The arrabbiata sauce was not our favorite as well… Next time we would go with the spaghetti and meatballs.
Overall, though, we enjoyed our visit to Buca. We all agreed, especially with how much leftovers we had, that this place is best for large groups. It’s a fun environment with overall good family style food. If you have a Buca near you or you find yourself in a city that has one, gather up a group and check it out! You likely won’t be disappointed