Weekly Lunch Pick: Buca
Scoring a dinner table at this trendy King Street dining room is next to impossible. Lunch promises all the flavour with none of the fuss.
The place: Once the front door is located (this is more challenging than it sounds), customers enter a room of exposed brick and sparse furnishings. The standout feature is not the high ceiling or open kitchen, but the salumeria—a glass room decorated with cured meats.
The crowd: Sharp marketing execs and stylish urban professionals. Basically, anyone who can afford a two-hour lunch.
The deal: A tempting list of salads ($11), pastas ($15–$18) and panini ($12–$14) beckons, but our hearts are set on the much lauded pizzas, especially since chef Rob Gentile’s homemade salumi, which have been aging since the restaurant’s opening in October, are now ready to be served.
The dish: Our meat lover’s Valhalla starts with a plate of salumi di Buca ($15) that pairs house-made bresaola, spicy salsiccine and four-month-old Berkshire salami with refreshing pickled green tomatoes, heirloom carrots and eggplant. A pair of cervello ($7)— creamy lamb’s brain in a fried prosciutto and sage shell—have dazzling contrasting textures, but the true stars of the meal are the crisp Roman-style pizzas. Served whole on large wooden cheeseboards with a pair of scissors, the prosciutto al pomodoro ($19) is laden with fresh basil leaves tucked under a layer of sweet, silky San Daniele ham. The swoon-worthy cicorilli ($16) comes with eight-hour-braised Calabrian pork dusted with rosemary, which clings to its paper-thin crust. We finish the meal with mugs of loose-leaf blueberry tea ($4) sided by complimentary biscotti.
The time: 96 minutes. Siesta optional.
The cost: $42.29 (total bill: $84.58 for two), including tax and tip.
Buca, 604 King St. W. (at Bathurst), 416-865-1600, buca.ca.