The Jacksonville Jaguars caravan complete with players, cheerleaders, and the world famous Jaxson de Ville visited Tallahassee. After a spirited pep rally and autograph signing session in the atrium of the Governor’s Square Mall the kids were hungry. Becky suggested we visit Buca di Beppo located on the second floor of the mall between Sears and Belks. I gave a less than resounding sure and together with the kids in tow we headed towards the city’s newest Italian restaurant.
I feel like whenever I review an Italian restaurant I need to add a disclaimer. I grew up in an Italian family with a Nana that cooked some of the best Italian-American food I have ever eaten. Her sauce (which my cousin had the forethought to video her cooking) was divine and topped piles of baked ziti, cutlets, and fresh bread from Tripoli’s throughout my childhood. Whenever we go out for Italian the restaurant is going up against her, memories of childhood, and Italian eateries I ate at in Boston, Southern New Hampshire and the Merrimack Valley. I realize this makes me an Italian food snob, but at least I am self-aware of my bias.
That said, Buca di Beppo occupies the spot which formerly housed a Ruby Tuesday. Walking in we were met by a smiling hostess who led us through the bar area towards a table near the window. Bucca is decorated in an eclectic manner that looks like someone cleaned out the basement of several elderly Italians and plastered it all over the walls. Pictures, art work and cans of tomatoes were illuminated y Christmas lights. A grotto featured photographs of the pope and tiny Vatican City flags. The tables were clad in plastic red and white checkerboard tablecloths. It was tacky and enjoyable at the same time.
Our server appeared with a basket of bread, menus, and information on how the Buca di Beppo experience operated. They serve their meals family style which means a small entree will feed two people, while the large is meant for four. The kids Italian repertoires are limited to pasta with red sauce, so we ordered each of them a kids spaghetti and meatball meal. Becky and I decided to order the Chicken Glorioso which was advertised as penne and chicken with white wine, Alfredo sauce, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes. The price tag for our entree was $22.99. For some reason our server kept trying to convince us an order of the rosemary potatoes was a good idea. We declined his efforts to up sell and stuck with only one starch.
The meals arrived after a moderate wait during which two additional small loaves of bread were consumed. The kids dug into their spaghetti and meatballs with gusto and soon had tomato sauce on their face. I tried a piece of meatball with some spaghetti and it was pretty good. As for our meal, Buca di Beppo deals in quantity. The Chicken Glorioso was served in a large white ceramic bowl and consisted of a half pound of pasta mixed with large pieces of white chicken, artichoke hearts, pieces of sun dried tomatoes, and peas. My meal was okay, and after each of us had two moderate servings there were still leftovers to bring home. Service throughout our meal was attentive and very friendly.
Overall my biggest issue with Buca di Beppo is the family style set-up. If you go with someone with differing tastes your options are to settle on something you do not really want for supper (like we did), or drop another $20.00 to $25.00 on a second small sized family style dish. While this will not be an issue for everyone it can quickly inflate the bill if everyone opts for their favorite dish.
Buca di Beppo is located at 1500 Apalachee Parkway and can be contacted by telephone at (850)309-0058. The restaurant is open Monday – Thursday from 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m., and on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. The restaurant is online at bucadibeppo.com, Facebook, and Twitter @bucadibeppo.
Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating: