Family Reunion with Family-Style

One of the “pros” on my pros/cons list when we were deciding whether to move to cross country to Nevada was that Las Vegas is only 4.5 to 5 hours from San Diego where a lot of my extended family lives.  Within a few weeks of moving to town, my grandparents came to visit and last weekend we were able to go see them at their home in San Diego.  On Saturday night, we had a mini family reunion with them, my aunt and uncle and my cousin and his wife.  When trying to decide where to have dinner, my grandpa advised that a Buca di Beppo had just opened near them in Carlsbad so I encouraged that to be our selection.  Family style and good food – we couldn’t go wrong! 

My grandparents had never been to Buca before, but the Husband and I have loved the DC one as well as the Charlotte location.  We hoped the family would love this one as well!


With a party of 8, my grandpa planned ahead and made a reservation.  It wasn’t particularly crowded in the lobby when we arrived but the restaurant had a lot of full tables.


As we headed to our table, we passed the signature table that’s in the kitchen.  We also passed the “pope” table which is a huge table with a bust of the Pope on it.  (Didn’t get a picture unfortunately)


We were seated upstairs in a booth that perfectly fit 8.  I love the decor of Bucas.  This one had many of the signature pieces as well as its own unique (we noted a lot of JFK stuff – we’re not sure why).



Above our table was a giant wine rack ceiling which I thought was neat.


As the whole group arrived in groups, we ordered cheesy garlic bread while we all checked out the menu.  We ended up ordering a second order, because the first one was devoured.


We also decided to get wine for the table.  My grandparents originally ordered one of the Chianti’s until I recommended the house Chianti which can come in multiple sizes.  We went with 1.5 liters since there were 8 of us :-) We went through that and ordered another 1 liter.  Lots of red wine!


When it came to entrees, we were definitely going to go with “family style.”  Buca has two sizes – small which they claim feeds 2-3 people and large which serves 4-6.  However, based on our experience, their dishes serve way more than that when you order multiples.  Therefore, I strongly recommended to the family that we order one or two large dishes and a handful of smaller ones.  We ended up getting two large meat dishes and three small pastas, which was more than enough for the 8 of us.  We had leftovers for my cousins to take home!

I didn’t snap pictures when the food first came out as I didn’t want to delay everyone serving themselves so I snapped them after our plates were full :-)

My aunt selected the Penne San Remo.  This dish was penne with chicken breast, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and peas in a white wine cream sauce.


I picked out one of my favorites: Baked Rigatoni.  It’s simple, just rigatoni and meat sauce with sausage and mozzarella, topped with parmesan and ricotta cheese.


My grandma selected the Eggplant Parmigiana


The Husband’s favorite: Chicken Saltimbocca which is chicken topped with prosciutto, artichoke hearts, lemon butter sauce, and capers.


My plate and the Husband’s… a little bit of everything for each of us.



Everyone was pleasantly full but my cousins were celebrating an anniversary as well as my cousin’s wife’s birthday (plus our mini family reunion) so dessert was on the table.  We went with the Colossal Brownie Sundae and holy cow it was big!  We somehow found a way to make sure there wasn’t a drop left though :-)


As expected, it was a fun meal with good food.  Our waitress was a saint and very patient with us.  I’m glad my relatives got to experience Buca and that we got to spend so much time catching up!

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