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Buca di Beppo, Dupont Circle and Gaithersburg


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Lordy, my computer problems are such that I can't read any links. PIA. I can, however, imagine what this says about Buca. It is a short (dammit) walk down the hill from our place so, of course, we had to try it out after it had been open for a short time.

Among my many complaints about this place is that, unless they have changed their menu, and I REALLY don't care if they have, one cannot get a meal for a single person, or even for two people. How utterly bizaare. DH and I had to agree on what we were going to eat because all the entrees were for three or more people. Chicken with lemon and capers (and isn't that called "Piccata" everywhere else?), seemed not so bad for about $15; except that it consisted of THREE chicken breasts. Excuse me?

We went for the smallest version of Caesar salad and asked for anchovies. Yup, fresh out of the can and THROWN on top. That salad could have fed half the diners in the place. We went for the eggplant parmesan (!). Yes, three eggplant "sandwiches." I don't even want to discuss the 3 liter bottle or Chianti for $60. This is wine-in-a-box quality and more than $5 for that dreck is highway robbery. (This was discovered at an unfortunate event for someone else's birthday party. In order to get the table with the "Pope" we had to eat "dinner" at 4:30 in the afternoon on Saturday. Don't ask. It's an experience that won't be repeated. I need hardly add that the birthday girl has never looked at any foodie site.)

The problem for us, you see, is that we have to walk by the place everytime we go to the subway, to Bistrot du Coin, Timberlake's, or just down the damn hill.

What evil mind dreamed up that place?

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I am so pleased that we had moved away from Kalorama before it opened, so that we wouldn't have to pass it by every time we walked down the hill. :lol:

We've been to the one in the Kentlands, in Gaithersburg. It's shit, plain and simple, served with a heapin' helping of schtick. Feh.

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[posted on eGullet 2003-2004]

My friend and I were discussing Buca di Beppo last night, and at what seemed like the exact same moment, we decided that Washington DC is a better place because that restaurant exists. Why? Because when you see a busload of 16-year-old tourists looking for a place to eat, you can steer them directly towards Buca di Beppo, which will subsequently funnel off traffic from places like Sette Osteria. Do not underestimate the importance of this, especially considering its proximity to the gargantuan Washington Hilton, the single largest hotel in the city.

Think I'm being too harsh? Look here and decide for yourselves.

Cheers!

Rocks.

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The place is lousy, but I agree w/DR in that it is a good place to direct tourists to. My one experience there was when my brother's friends got him to do a bachelor party thing there. Dinner basically, and we were loud and obnoxious, so I guess it fit the surroundings.

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I haven't been in several years, but I remember liking the big ol' meatball... on top of spaghetti... all covered with cheese...

he meatballs...HUGE. It's funny, my brother was getting a bit loaded and we got him to mug for the camera taking a big bite out of the meatball. It was funny because he's a vegetarian. He had a good laugh about it the next day.

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I don't know who to believe when I read this hard-hitting report from the Palm Beach Post, entitled Italian Eatery Serves Great Food.

Italian Eatery Serves Great Food

Palm Beach Post

3/29/06

I’m pretty picky about folks eating off my plate, so when it was suggested by friends that we join them for dinner at a family-style Italian restaurant, I envisioned several forks stabbing at the same piece of Chicken Parmigiana on a plate.

I must admit, I wasn’t thrilled at the thought. I recall as a child eating at a family-style restaurant while vacationing in the north Georgia mountains, and I always got stuck with the fried chicken leg when what I really wanted was the thigh or wing.

But Buca di Beppo in Wellington might have cured me of my evil family-style memories. I’ll share a large plate of Calamari, a small Caesar Salad or a small Spaghetti and Meatballs here with anyone. Or perhaps even the small Linguine Frutti di Mare, small Chicken Marsala or small Pizza con Pollo. It was all wonderful.

What you have to understand about this great place, which takes you on a tour through the kitchen while you are being seated, is that the small size is designed to feed two or more and the large size serves at least four. Everyone gets an empty plate and scoops from the large servings put in the center of the table.

Buca takes reservations, and there’s even one booth right in the kitchen if you want to watch the food preparation up close.

While there wasn’t a complaint about any of the six dishes we ordered, I’d have to say the Linguine Frutti di Mare (with shrimp, mussels, clams and calamari) was my favorite - great pasta, great seafood with a great red sauce.

The only bad part was having to share it with five others.

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I don't know who to believe when I read this hard-hitting report from the Palm Beach Post, entitled Italian Eatery Serves Great Food.
Hey! One mans' watery, ketchup based, red sauce and ground beef on Safeway pasta is another mans' authentic Italian feast. Maybe he likes pre-packaged "authentic" food.
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I don't know who to believe when I read this hard-hitting report from the Palm Beach Post, entitled Italian Eatery Serves Great Food.
Then don't look at the "reviews" in my local paper. They use a chef's hat rating with 5 hats being the best. I kid you not these have all been featured reviews:

Boston Market 3 hats

Outback Steakhouse 4 hats

Cracker Barrel 3 hats

Smokey Bones Barbecue and Grill 3 1/2 hats

Ruby Tuesday 3 hats

Carrabas Italian Grill 4 hats

Olive Garden 3 1/2 hats

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Then don't look at the "reviews" in my local paper. They use a chef's hat rating with 5 hats being the best. I kid you not these have all been featured reviews:

Boston Market 3 hats

Outback Steakhouse 4 hats

Cracker Barrel 3 hats

Smokey Bones Barbecue and Grill 3 1/2 hats

Ruby Tuesday 3 hats

Carrabas Italian Grill 4 hats

Olive Garden 3 1/2 hats

You know, for a certain segment of the American public, these are valid observations. Some people want to eat safe, non-threatening, 'generic' food. They're not interested in escargot or cavair or $50 bottles of wine. They want Beef with Broccoli, Chicken Parmesan, and McDonalds hamburgers. They neither want nor would buy a hanger steak because it's not a T-bone. "Remember your audience" is one of the first things you should learn. If it's a caviar and escargot crowd, write for them, if not, write for the other 98% of the people (and for road food, Carrabas isn't bad, it's quick, edible and safe when you're far away from home, have 3 hungry children in tow and have 5 minutes to decide where to eat).
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My one experience with Buca di Beppo (the one in the Kentlands) consisted of constant up-selling, dishonesty about the size of the portions, and mounds of undercooked garlic. Nevah again. If I ever get a hankering for mass-market chain Italian it's the Macaroni Grill.

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If memory serves me, the first Buca di Beppo was in Minneapolis, and I think it was in the basement of the building that housed the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. :) When it first opened, it had a very good reputation there, not as a competitor of the best Italian place in town, D'Amico Cucina, but as a fun place to go with a group and to have some decent food--it was very well reviewed. But since it's morphed into a chain, the reputation has plummeted. (The folks that run Buca also run Oceanaire, by the way, so not all their endeavors are totally evil!)

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Then don't look at the "reviews" in my local paper. They use a chef's hat rating with 5 hats being the best. I kid you not these have all been featured reviews:

Boston Market 3 hats

Outback Steakhouse 4 hats

Cracker Barrel 3 hats

Smokey Bones Barbecue and Grill 3 1/2 hats

Ruby Tuesday 3 hats

Carrabas Italian Grill 4 hats

Olive Garden 3 1/2 hats

This is an interesting topic which should have its own thread: the credibility and values of the reviewer in relation to the city/town he or she is in. Also, their particular focus since many local papers tend to promotion and less to criticism. This also relates to the various opinions of posters on this and other boards. Some people are extremely sophisticated, even worldly when appropriate. Others have had limited experience, perhaps even mostly local. Even in the cooking thread there are several whose opinion I trust implicitly based on either knowing them or past posts of theirs' which I've appreciated. For the most part whether it is a message board, newspaper or even friends ("whose opinions I trust") it really comes down to sharing the same reference points and values. The values of a restaurant critic in Tallahassee may serve the mainstream in Tallahassee; but this is one restaurant critic that will never write in a Washington publication. Nor have much credibility on this or other local boards. At least not for Italian food or French or any other cuisine or style that Tallahassee does not excel in.

On the other hand there is probably some serious fried catfish and jerk grouper in Tallahassee that a Washingtonian will never find here along with very real roadhouse blues in a juke joint like the Bradfordville Blues Club http://www.bradfordvilleblues.com/ ("Just follow the tiki torches down the dirt roads till you reach the juke joint under the stars.") . My guess is that D. C. critics could learn a thing or two at several of these...

http://www.frommers.com/destinations/tallahassee/D40851.html

I am also convinced that this is not the impression of a Tallahassee, FL night club that most on this board would have: http://www.kodakgallery.com/Slideshow.jsp?...508.91951182908 (Click on "Gary's snapshots" from the www.bradfordvilleblues.com link above and then "continue" and then go forward about 25 or so photos and, when you see the singer, Janiva Magness, (who looks like a next door neighbor of mine!), you'll understand...")

Edited by Joe H
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You know, for a certain segment of the American public, these are valid observations. "Remember your audience" is one of the first things you should learn.
Couldn't agree with you more. This was meant as a somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment about the preponderance of these advertisement-esque reviews and the local palate in response to the reference to a far more sophisticated local paper on the other side of my state. As Joe H mentions, this critic serves mainstream Tallahassee where Carrabas has a 2 hour wait nightly and one of the more upscale restaurants actually charged an extra $1.00 to serve a drink on the rocks.
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one of the more upscale restaurants actually charged an extra $1.00 to serve a drink on the rocks.

used to bartend at two upscale restaurants that charged $1.00 to serve a cocktail on the rocks because it was a 3 ounce pour rather than a 2 ounce pour.

I always thought that was a pretty good deal. $1 for an extra ounce of whatever call you were drinking. We did it because anybody drinking something on the rocks obviously was pretty hardcore.

We also charged a buck for anyone drinking something straight up because it took a 3 ounce pour to fill a martini glass.

In fact, I think the place I work now charges $2 extra for a straight up call liquor because it's a heavier pour. No go on the rocks drinks though, they do a straight 1 1/2 to 2 ounce pour. If you want more than that, you pay for a double.

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has anyone ever gotten lost at buca di beppo? i haven't been there since the early months after it opened in washington. there was just too much food all over the place, and i hated having to lug a grocery bag full of it home and watch it rot in the refrigerator. it was about as heavy as a sack of compost. i mean you could practically play duckpins with the meatballs at this place, they are that gargantuan. but after a pitcher of campari, trying to find my way back to the table one night started feeling like an increasingly descending trip into dante. we were sitting in a neopolitan nook by a wet mop overseen by captivating images of sophia loren and the pope, which was distinctive enough, but there were few signposts to get me there. if they insist on giving you hell, at least they could provide some ushers. now that the k street cafeterias with the little prayer cards on the table are shuttered, is this the best that washington has to offer busloads of young americans who have traveled unspeakable distances to sit in the lap of their government? would yankee doodle call this macaroni?

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I walk past BdB almost every day, seeing the tour busses pulling up and the gangs of high school kids pouring out. I spent a year working with Close-up, which delivers to BdB on occasion, and knowing where some of these kids come from (Tucumcari, New Mexico [Feat! Feat!] or Marshalltown, Iowa, anyone?) BdB may be a lesson in adventurous eating -- maybe even fine dining.

That being said, I'd personally rather have recurring cold sores than eat there. I think there's a multiplier effect that goes on in these places, where you multiply the mediocre food times cutesy "authentic" decor times the corporate upselling and trickery and somehow come up with a number that's less than zero. (This also explains my particular loathing of Potbelly's).

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strip clubs, luxury villas, and fraud charges. Apparently Buca had had more going for it than we thought....

Italian restaurant chain Buca di Beppo is going to the dogs - at least its profits are.

Federal regulators yesterday accused the ousted head of the chain of 104 eateries - spreading from Albany to Miami and Los Angeles - of conspiring with two corporate lackeys to loot the company of millions in perks, including luxury kennels at two of his estates.

Former CEO Joe Micatrotto also blew $96,000 on personal indulgences such as visits to strip clubs, said the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Wow -- 23 grand at a "gentlemens club," even at ten bucks a Heiniken, that's a lot of cash for two guys to drop in only "five to seven" hours.

It sounds like it has been a while since you've been to a club. There are a few other ways to spend money there other than beer.

ETA - Not that I would know anything about that. :unsure:

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. . . but would choose Odeon over, say, Bucco di Beppo.
Oh please. Why would anyone who wasn't on the verge of dying of starvation eat at Bucco di Beppo? You could get a perfectly reasonable sandwhich at the 7-11 which would be better than anything at this tourist trap. (Have you noticed that it is just down the street from the Hilton??)
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For some reason, my college friends enjoy celebrating their birthdays here.

post-1225-124811108636_thumb.jpg

It's such an ordeal having to get an order together for twelve people, especially with the Pope staring at you and judging you for your gluttony.

Does anyone want pizza? No, no, no, no, no, no, no, yes, no, no, yes. <pizza come around> Can I have a slice? Ooh, me too! That looks good, I'll have a slice, too! Hey, send that over here! Can I have another? Pass it 'round!

Portions are heaping and everything reeks of garlic (which is fine by me), and really the cheesy garlic bread ($10.99 for a large) isn't too bad. Plus for some reason we were given a tour of the kitchen on the way to our table, so we knew about the "bread station." Steer clear of mains that do not include some element of tomato: you need the acid.

Their house chianti is nothing special, but for whatever reason it goes down like water, which does make for a livelier atmosphere.

According to their website:

WICKER BASKET CHIANTI - Our perfectly balanced Chianti comes to us direct from the sun-soaked hills of Tuscany. There, our vineyard have been growing and producing an exceptional reserve of wine for more than a century*.
*Also from their website: "The first Buca di Beppo opened its doors in 1993."

Say what?

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Quote: WICKER BASKET CHIANTI - Our perfectly balanced Chianti comes to us direct from the sun-soaked hills of Tuscany. There, our vineyard have been growing and producing an exceptional reserve of wine for more than a century*.

*Also from their website: "The first Buca di Beppo opened its doors in 1993."

Say what?

Well, I could say "our boss has been flummoxing widgets for more than a decade" but maybe we've only worked there a year.

It is a bit misleading but not necessarily inaccurate.

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WICKER BASKET CHIANTI - Our perfectly balanced Chianti comes to us direct from the sun-soaked hills of Tuscany. There, our vineyard have been growing and producing an exceptional reserve of wine for more than a century*.
Well, I could say "our boss has been flummoxing widgets for more than a decade" but maybe we've only worked there a year. It is a bit misleading but not necessarily inaccurate.

Oh, come on. When we get all nitpicky like this we divert attention from the larger evil that is Buca di Beppo. "Our vineyards there have been growing and producing an exceptional reserve of wine for more than a century," would have been a better construct, but in the larger scheme of promotional writing the original text is not particularly misleading and their jumbled syntax hardly counts as an egregious error.

Big picture guys, big picture!

Speaking of egregious Italian errors, Anna Maria's on Connecticut Avenue has closed.

It will not be missed.

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Speaking of egregious Italian errors, Anna Maria's on Connecticut Avenue has closed.

I thought it looked like it had closed when I rode by in a car the other day; I hadn't been by on foot to verify. I had what I recall as a perfectly serviceable Italo-American meal there some time in the mid-70s, probably because it was open really late. Never went back, though.
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I thought it looked like it had closed when I rode by in a car the other day; I hadn't been by on foot to verify. I had what I recall as a perfectly serviceable Italo-American meal there some time in the mid-70s, probably because it was open really late. Never went back, though.

I was at Anna Maria's once in the late 1980s. Cockroaches were galloping across our table, wriggling in our salads, and I would prefer not to think of where else. We got up and left without paying.

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5 hours ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

This might work if there is a pop-up cardiology clinic next door. Let's hear it, who's grabbing that Weird Spaghetti or Big Bud's Beer Can Chicken?

I find Guy Fieri annoying and would never eat in one of his restaurants, but the work he has done to raise funds for restaurant workers during the pandemic deserves nothing but hearty praise.

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