We ended up at Buca di Beppo by chance (driving around looking for somewhere interesting). It has the appearance of a restaurant with a long history and individuality – so I was surprised when I looked up the restaurant to learn that it is part of a chain of 86 locations and only started about 15 years ago and in Minneapolis. I was even more surprised, and a little disappointed to see that it has been acquired by that monstrosity of the culinary world, Planet Hollywood.
Our waiter explained that the phrase “Buca di Beppo”, in Italian, essentially means “Joe’s Basement”. The restaurant is designed so that there are no windows, to give the feeling that one is indeed in a basement. That leaves plenty of wall space. The walls are completely filled with frames pictures representing the greatness of Italy (i.e. many pictures of Sophia Loren in her underwear). Our waiter took us from the entrance on a tour of the facility, pointing out the different features, such as the “kitchen booth”, a small room dedicated to the Pope and a small room dedicated to Frank Sinatra. Although the restaurant has a fairly large capacity, it is divided into small rooms to give a more personal sense.
The food was impressive. The food really reminded me of the food in Italy – everything tasted fresh and flavorful. We started with the Prosciutto Stuffed Mushrooms - mushrooms stuffed with prosciutto, Asiago cheese, fresh sage and rosemary, baked and served on a bed of pesto cream sauce. The prosciutto and rosemary were a joy to the taste buds.
For our entrees we had the Penne Arrabiata - spicy Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a zesty marinara sauce with imported Italian penne pasta and theLasagna - layers of lasagna noodles stuffed with homemade meat sauce and a savory combination of ricotta, mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan cheeses. All delicious.