You might not find it from the street. Down a long alley we walk, unsure, until a great glass door reveals a world below. For twenty years this old warehouse boiler room lay empty. As we descend the staircase into Toronto's latest dining hot spot, we feel like we've just been welcomed into a hip new hide out. Buca, means "hole" in Italian. Within sand-blasted brick walls and 30-foot high ceilings, our eyes delight at the rustic ambiance that we explore.
The menu may change daily, and is stam
ped with today's date, because ingredients come straight from the farm. One day might bring mushrooms, another day won't; and the kitchen keeps a low stock, because it all has to be fresh. For executive chef Rob Gentile this provides both a challenge and a freedom to play.
There is so much on this menu that seems different, exotic in its simplicity, and we want to try everything. Our attentive waiter hasn't merely memorized specials; he understands the nuances of each dish.
The Carpaccio Di Vitello ($15) elicits my dinner partner to exclaim "there are so many different flavours happening at once!" Delicately sliced milk fed veal nourished in fowl egg yolk and adorned with young dandelion, Friulano cheese shavings, toasted pumpkin seeds and black truffles, is as tasteful as it is artful. Tagliatelle ($18) made of al dente duck egg pasta and a really meaty and flavourful duck ragu is a perfect scoop that reminds us there is nothing as good as a bowl of fresh pasta! All the pasta and breads here are made fresh in-house.
Served on a wooden palette the Melanzane Fritte ($16) of fried eggplant, black olives, basil, and ricotta, is a delicious oblong shaped pizza that, to those for whom it's all about the crust, is a must try. Accompanied by a pair of scissors, it feels like art class as we cut each piece to the last bite. The Quaglia ($28) has a charcoal fresh-off-the-grill flavour. Four crisp rubbed quail legs are accompanied by balsamic-soaked pop-in-your-mouth cippolini onions. Don't miss the sweet thirty year old balsamic that dots the plate.
All desserts are $10, and are inventive and sweet. It's all about good food here. This is one Buca I've enjoyed falling into...
Atmosphere: Urban-rustic, cool
Hint: Pizza is uniquely shaped and its thin crust packs a crunch
Wine & Spirits: Wine program is currently being modified
Reservations: Highly recommended
Wheelchair accessible: No
Surprise Surprise: In-house salumeria offers an impressive selection of expertly cured meats.