Buca di Beppo
Buca di Beppo opened its doors in Santa Monica about 10-years ago and the crowds came. It's a collection of neighborhood places that have created an atmosphere of shark‑frenzy. It’s also tongue‑in‑cheek humor and portions of food that could feed the entire "old neighborhood" in the Southern part of Italy.
This maze of diningrooms, has every wall, ceiling, and free‑standing area filled with over‑the‑edge humor whether it be vintage family photos hanging alongside Italian‑American icons like Sophia Loren. Joe DiMaggio, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, or the Pope who has his own table where he hangs his hat; not too far from Al Capone. And then there's the rest‑rooms where you can listen in on Italian conversations over the party‑line! Each of these restaurants have a full bar offering a water glass filled with wine for about $6-$8. And if you wish to eat in the kitchen, or walk through it to your niche it's O.K. Anything goes.
There was a time back in the 40s when all Italian restaurants were known by their red checkered tablecloths, spaghetti and meatballs, ravioli, and chicken cacciatore, and it's all here. At Buca you will dine on true Southern Italian red sauce specialties that include all of the above plus much more, along with signature versions of spaghetti with three half‑pound meatballs topped over two pounds of pasta. These family recipes originated in the tiny Southern villages of Italy and the food transcends generations.
It's normal for platters to spill over the sides onto the table, as they feed from two to five diners. Yet, there isn't anything over $20, but most is much less. And people have enough food left over for the next day's meal.
Some popular dishes are Neapolitan pizzas, gigantic salads, excellent pastas, calamari, and desserts of spumoni, chocolate cannoli's, and Tiramisu. There are two sizes, and everything is served family style. The small plates feed about three people and large ones will make four to six diners happy!
There are over a dozen pastas, along with chicken, veal, and eggplant parmigiana entrees; plus many side dishes, including Italian sausage.
My favorite dishes for the evening were Mozzarella Caprese, Apple Gorgonzoa Salad, Warm Tomato Spinach Salad, Prosciutto stuffed chicken, Chicken Carbonars, Salmon with Pesto, Chianti Braised Short Ribs, and Tiramiso, (which was the size of a huge pie). When we finished out meals, the shopping bag (take home stuff) was so heavy that help was necessary.
Buca is only open for dinner from 5:00pm from Monday‑Friday, and 4:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. Reservations are accepted from Monday through Thursday, or guests can call one‑hour ahead of arrival to reduce their wait‑time.
If you want to celebrate a birthday, they do it with a charming
beat‑up candelabra, (a'la Liberace) filled with six huge candles and the whole ten‑yards of singing. And if you're not celebrating anything, the singing and high-pitched chatter will make you think you are. They especially encourage bowling parties! So go with friends, have fun, and "mangare, mangare, eat‑eat!"
These marvelous restaurants are in Brea, Clarmont, Encino, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Pasadena, Redondo Beach, Santa Clarita, Santa Monica, Thousand Oaks, and Universal City. They all explore the spirit of Italian culture and family ties. The first Buca di Beppo opned its door in 1993 in the basement of a Minneapolis apartment building. The now have over 88 locations nationwide. Dishes enjoyed for generations in villages throughout Italy have inspired Buca’s authentic Italian fare. Most locations are open for lunch and all locations are open for fun! Just one big bunch of fun! Buca di Beppo, known for its quality Italian dishes and energetic, casual atmosphere, has added six new dishes to their menu of homestyle Italian cuisine.
Succulent chicken with artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and peas tossed with imported Italian penne in a white wine cream sauce. Flavorful prosciutto, tender chicken breast and peas with imported Italian spaghetti in a creamy alfredo sauce. Vibrant chicken breast, broccoli and a spectacular light pesto cream sauce with imported Italian penne pasta. Juicy garlic shrimp and a spicy rosasauce with the finest imported Italian penne pasta. Delectable breaded chicken breasts stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto, baked and topped with marinara, served on a bed of pesto cream sauce. Beef short ribs braised to perfection with a Buca Chianti tomato sauce.
In addition, Buca di Beppo has revitalized their commitment to the highest-quality dishes with the freshest ingredients by recently enhancing their sauces, with Bucas red Marinara, creamy Alfredo and meaty Bolognese now created from recipes that emphasize freshness and homemade flavor. All sauces continue to be made in-house at each individual restaurant.
Buca di Beppo is all about quality food, great value in a fun, energized atmosphere.
This family-style service lends itself perfectly to special occasions. And each Buca is uniquely equipped to handle groups of all sizes, whether it is holiday office parties, rehearsal dinners, team get-togethers, family reunions or any occasion worth celebrating. It’s a whimsical tribute to Italian icons done in a kitschy style that sets the tone for a fun dining experience. It’s Christmas all the time in Santa Monica. Address; 1442 2nd Street, Phone; (310) 587-2782.