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Mar 16, 2001 10:17 AM

Il Buco: another sad chapter in a series of crushing culinary disappointments.

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I indulged at Il Buco (47 Bond St. off Bowery) the other evening. This is the pan-Mediterranean place which is an antique store by day, restaurant by night. Atmosphere and service were pleasant enough, if a little kitschy, but the food ranged from uninspired to really bad.

I was in the mood for pasta, and ordered papardelle with lamb ragout, hoping for something hearty. The dish seemed to consist of ground lamb, onions, absolutely no salt, and some shards of what must have been some very thin pappardelle that was flat-out overcooked. It was a bland mush, and just plain shouldn't been served, especially for sixteen dollars!

Anyone had a better experience there?


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  1. I've never been to Il Buco, but I am intrigued by your Subject line. I'm curious to hear about the other sad chapters in your continuing series...

    5 Replies
    1. re: George Lynch
      Eliot Shepard

      > I've never been to Il Buco, but I am intrigued by your
      > Subject line. I'm curious to hear about the other sad
      > chapters in your continuing series...

      I don't know, I just find a lot of restaurant experiences disappointing. I'm less focused on service or atmosphere than I am on really excellently-prepared food with exciting flavors. In the last few years, I've tried a lot of places, and have had exactly one meal that I truly rocked my world (at Babbo.) The rest have ranged from awful to good.

      But I'm just a jaded old coot.

      1. re: Eliot Shepard

        No. Never blame yourself. There is great food in the world, it's all around us. Don't let anyone palm off mediocrity on you and make you wonder if you're merely being persnickety. You deserve really delicious food, we all do!

        This place would've floated your boat 3-4 years ago. But no more. Oh well, dust yourself off and keep chowhounding (with our help!)


        1. re: Jim Leff

          Excuse me, folks, but I can't help noticing that everything seems to be going downhill around here. I bet I could make a zillion dollars offering therapy (hey, maybe I'm a licensed therapist) to those poor souls who anticipate, and then discover, that their favorite places are continually going downhill. Maybe they're really on a sin wave, good one day, not quite so good the next. Who could accurately gauge a place visiting only once at random. More empirical evidence is needed. Maybe if we sent all the chowhounds at once to the same place, Zagat-type ballots in hand, we could really gauge if a place is "going downhill." 10 to 1 it was never that great in the first place.

          1. re: aardvark

            I thought maybe you were saying something good until your conclusion. Il Buco used to be a great restaurant--I had many excellent meals there. Now it's not a great restaurant. The chef that used to cook there is gone. There's nothing random about it.

            1. re: Peter Cuce

              I took a friend out to dinner there, not too long ago....the meal was ok (the pasta with lamb was decent) but I was shocked by the price...particularly by the bottle of wine the waiter basically told us to order...oh well.

    2. The last time I was there (December???) it was considerably different than previous years. The food was OK, nothing swoonworhty like before, and the relaxed, long and luxurious dining atmo had vanished. We felt rushed, we had a seating problem that the management was not helpful with (reservation made weeks in advance; sat us in front of a door to a party room; waiters and guests kept pushing past and banging a door into my friend's chair nonstop). The prices skyrocketed (and with small tapas-style plates, it can easily get out of hand). My martini cost $11. Yikes --I can drink in a ritzy hotel bar for that. And the worst: It was full of the ubiquitous rich 20-something barhoppers.

      1. The chef that originally was at Il Buco is no longer there, having moved to a newly-opened restaurant called Tappo (12th & 1st). Tapas-type menu with 100+ bottles of wine in a large (for E. Village standards) loft-like space...

        7 Replies
        1. re: Dan-o

          which former Il Buco chef do you mean? The man who was there until about 3 years ago ("the golden era"), or the woman who'd been cooking since then ("the not-as-good era")?

          1. re: Jim Leff

            By coincidence, I was just reading a review of Tappo on the Times website. The chef is male, so perhaps it's the person responsible for Il Buco's glory days. In any case, Tappo sounds pretty great.

            1. re: Lauren

              No, I just read the article (link below), and I'm afraid that's not him. The guy I really like from Il Buco is named Thierry (sp?).

              He's a chef I try to follow around, but I've lost him since he left Frontiere...



              1. re: Jim Leff

                I did a google search and came up with the name Thierry Amezcua from a cached link. The link itself no longer goes anywhere, but you can tell from the description that this is the guy's name. Alas, searching on his name brings up nothing.

                1. re: Peter Cuce

                  Peter--you're right, "Thierry Amezcua" is indeed his name. And I just hunted him down. He's running a catering company with his wife. They're based in the Village, and the company is called La La Gourmandise (212-226-0351). I can't believe it wouldn't be at least very good, but I have no idea if he or his wife are doing most of the cooking...and if she's any good.

                  I'd bet that, like most catering companies, they'd do small meals (e.g. for two) if given proper notice). There's a fine line between catering and take-out!


            2. re: Jim Leff

              From what I understand the glory days were when "Chef Thierry" was there. Since then there was a woman who left about 1.5 years ago and then a man who just recently left. I have no idea who is there now.

              I have only eaten at Il Buco once right after Thierry left. We had a fairly large party so I got to try a lot of different dishes. I thought the entire meal was terrible! There was literally nothing redeeming about the food. Thus I found it strange when David Rosengarten reviewed the place for Bon Ap or Gourmet (I forget which) a few months later and raved about the woman chef. He said it was his favorite Italian place in NYC. IMHO, he must have burned his toungue before eating there because he loved some of the dishes that I had passionately disliked.

              Different strokes.


              1. re: Mike C

                I, too, was very very puzzled by Rosengarten's review.

                Thanks for adding a piece to the puzzle. Didn't know the woman chef (who I too found disappointing) had left.

                But the question remains: where the heck is Thierry these days? I'm sorry his food is no longer available in the great atmosphere (if attitudeish service) of Il Buco, but I'd follow him to Pizza Hut if necessary.

          2. It used to be one of my favorite restaurants. But though the antiques remain pretty, it's the chef who makes all the diff...and whoever they've got back there right now is definitely not happening (or so I've heard...and your posting corroborates).

            Thanks for your report, at least you can know that you saved countless fellow chowhounds a similar fate. Sorry, though.


            1 Reply
            1. re: Jim Leff

              i had two great meals there, marred only by a boring cheese board...but the last one was lat ein 2000 ....

              if the new chef is from i copppi, then forget it. i ate at i coppi 3 is a nice restaurant, has a nice garden.. the food was not bad, but it was on the lame side....i never once got ripe tomatoes there, btw,...the minstrone had no great flavor, etc....

              if the chef from there moved to il buco....hmmm i dont think id go back