Buca di Beppo continously sends me coupons; the most recent was a $20 off 2 entrees coupon. Their coupons generally expire in a few days, but this one was for a few weeks. So I was able to schedule them in.
Running late as usual, I got there a bit after 3pm. There was one car parked in the lot in front of the restaurant. The hostess greeted me and tried to seat me at a high top in the bar. In an empty restaurant. Who hires these morons? "Can you spare a table?". She reluctantly gave me a booth. Please demote this girl to a dishwasher.
Buca di Beppo
At 3:15 I only got a dinner menu. Another place where you have to order dinner at 3:15; no wonder they're dead empty. The coupon excluded lunch items, so no real difference to me. The way it works is that everything is ala carte and dinner entrees are either "small", which serves 2, or "large" which serves 4. Lunch entrees are 1/2 of a small, so they serve 1. I ordered iced tea and checked out the menu.
I'd previously decided on the short ribs and veal saltimbocca, but they put artichokes on the veal, and I though it would ruin the dish. I wanted to try the red sauce, so I went with eggplant parmesan instead.
The tea came out with a tiny sliver of lemon.
Buca di Beppo Iced Tea
Restaurants are so stupid. I asked for extra and they gave me 4 more. >
Giving out a too-small slice of lemon does one of two things; it either ticks off the customer who doesn't like to ask for more, or causes them to give you even more when you ask for it, neither of which is good for business. It's what happens when corporate bean-counters take over. You're giving me 9 cents worth of flavored water for $3; give me a wedge of lemon that's enough to flavor the size of glass you give me.
The entrees don't come with soup or salad, but you do get a loaf of bread with olive oil dip. Plain dip, no oregano or crushed pepper. I ground some fresh pepper into it.
Buca di Beppo Bread
The oil dip was ok, but the bread was terrible. Dense, cold and chewy without being crusty. Definitely not worth the carbs.
While waiting for the food I looked around and absorbed the atmosphere. Music is old world and silly Italian; Sinatra, Bobby Darin,"Santa Lucia". There are a lot of strange paintings, some of them you could argue are inappropriate for a family restaurant. I liked the woman with the big melons best.
Buca di Beppo Melons Picture
The food came out on 2 big platters. Clearly the portions are designed to be split between 2 people. The short ribs were pretty saucy; I'd never gotten short ribs that didn't come with mashed potatoes or risotto before. My server asked if I wanted some crushed pepper; why not put some out so I can make a better dip?
Buca di Beppo Short Ribs
The ribs weren't bad; they probably needed another half hour of braising. And they needed some seasoning. You shouldn't have to salt short ribs. All in all, not bad. A couple of days later, I chopped up a slice of white onion and a clove of garlic and braised the leftovers in a little Tomato Basil sauce with water for about 20 minuted and the result was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC. Why can't they make good food in restaurants anymore?
The eggplant didn't look so good. Sometimes you can just tell with eggplant.>
Buca di Beppo Eggplant Parmesan
Heavily breaded and over cooked, the eggplant was also unpeeled which made it worse. It was sprinkled with bad cheese, and the sauce wasn't really tomato sauce; it was just a bunch of tomatoes thrown in.
Buca di Beppo Eggplant Parmesan
This eggplant dish was completely devoid of culinary forethought. It's perhaps the worst I've ever had in a restaurant; the worst that I can remember since the junk I had at Bova Prime.
Assuming I can salvage the eggplant with good sauce and cheese, I'll get 2 meals out of this by adding vegetables to the short rib and pasta to the eggplant. With the $20 off coupon, this came to $32, which is still no bargain. Consider that for a full meal you'd need to order salad and/or a side pasta, making this a pretty expensive proposition with no coupon. I don't really buy the argument that because I get leftovers, it's worth twice as much.
Note that the take out containers are VERY flimsy; I almost dumped the short ribs in the parking lot. Of course if they'd crimped it all the way around it would have been better.
I'll put this on the Olive Garden level; Carrabba's is much better than this.