Buca di Beppo is a chain restaurant that seems to have an unfounded reputation for being expensively upscale. This place is quirky, unique, and definitely not snobbish. Buca di Beppo, literally translated from Italian, means Joe’s Basement. The décor inside the restaurant’s interior is anything but glamorous and elegant. Funny and often unflattering or irreverent photographs and artwork adorn the walls.
One entire room is filled with a huge circular table complete with a statuette of the Pope in the center. Patrons are led into the restaurant through the kitchen, and lucky diners may even be able to sit at the lone booth located inside the kitchen.
All of the food at Buca di Beppo is served family style and a la carte. The cuisine is traditional Italian fare. Entrees come in small or large sizes and cost anywhere from $8.99 (small spaghetti marinara) to $31.99 (large roasted salmon with pesto). The average small entrée costs around $14.99, while the average large is about $24.99. A “small” entrée is meant to serve two or three people, while a large is intended to serve four or more. Adding an appetizer or salad to your meal can stretch them even further, depending on how hungry you are.
Buca di Beppo is a great place for groups! I visited fairly recently with a group of twelve hungry people. We ordered among us three pans of garlic bread with melted mozzarella cheese for appetizers, one large salad, and two large entrees. We all stuffed ourselves, had food left over to take home, and the entire meal including drinks and tip cost us only around ten dollars each. I have always found the service at Buca to be outstanding as well.
On my most recent visit to Buca di Beppo, our group of three ordered a small Caesar salad and an entrée new to the menu, Penne Campofiore. The salad was crisp, cold, and delicious. There was just enough anchovy flavor in the dressing, and it was topped with croutons that were just crunchy enough. The penne campofiore was very different from other dishes I have tried at Buca. Penne pasta was mixed with zucchini, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, and escarole, topped with cheese, and tossed with some sort of broth as a sauce. I found it somewhat lacking in flavor, so I liberally sprinkled red pepper flakes on it.
I enjoyed it much more with the extra seasoning. We boxed the leftovers to take home and splurged on dessert, the chocolate cannoli. None of us had ever had cannoli before, but since all of us are chocolate lovers we figured we couldn’t go wrong. Soon, our waitress set before us three huge pastry rolls bursting with creamy filling, topped with candied pistachio nuts, drizzled with chocolate and swimming in a pool of chocolate sauce. It was absolutely heavenly and we polished off the entire dish, chocolate sauce and all.
When you visit Buca di Beppo, make sure you bring a group and come hungry! The restaurant also offers carryout service, which is very convenient for busy families. Be forewarned that you will probably get lost in the building as you search for the restrooms or try to leave. The dining room has many twists, turns, and nooks that can be confusing to navigate. Don’t hesitate to ask any friendly waiter or waitress to guide you!