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Sep 14, 2007 10:48 PM

Bad night at Il Buco

Giacomino Drago ought to stop by Il Buco one of these months and see what's being done in his name. It isn't pretty.

While we're not regulars at Il Buco, we've dined there a good half dozen times over the last several years. My wife says she would get nice warm feelings as she drove by the Robertson restaurant. But after last Sunday, not any more.

Il Buco was an unplanned choice on Sunday, a backup visit to an expected reliable restaurant by two hungry people. She ordered Tegamino Melanzane to start; I chose Calamari Fritti. Recalling how good-tasting and ample Il Buco's Chicken Parmigiana had been in the past, we atypically both ordered the same thing. Waiting, we nibbled the Italian bread. Something in the back of my mind warned that it was a tiny bit toasted, as if to cover a lack of freshness, but I didn't listen.

The appetizers arrived. With a bold swoop of his hand my waiter delivered my full glass of ice water to my lap. We transferred ourselves to an empty adjacent table with minimal waiterly assistance--not even paper napkins were offered--and turned our attention to the food.

My Calamari were floury white in color and coating texture. They had the mouth feel and temperature of having been poured frozen out of a box into a frypan and served before their time with but a dab of red sauce. Her Melanzane consisted of thin eggplant that somehow still managed to be fibrously chewy, sloppily rolled around a glob of gooey mozzarella. It lay in a pool of soupy, unseasoned, characterless red sauce which reminded us both of Chef Boyardee. In retrospect I should have sent the appetizers back, but I must have still been too iced up in the wrong place.

The identical Chicken Parmigianas were nothing like they once were. What used to cover the plate did not span half of it. Chicken filled the central sixteenth of an inch between soggy breaded breading. Something burned and brownish decorated the region normally occupied by a slice of parmesan. A little more of that sauce from the Melanzane added the only pleasant flavor. As if in revulsion, three wizened two-inch carrot pieces and two small sprigs of broccoli circled the edge of the plate.

The check for this meal, which would have embarrassed a half-decent coffee shop, was $72.15 with tax. And the coffee shop probably would not have served stale coffee.

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  1. I almost didn't read to the end of your post, because I just could not take it! What a horrible experience!!! But, I am glad that I read to the end to find "As if in revulsion, three wizened two-inch carrot pieces and two small sprigs of broccoli circled the edge of the plate." That's hilarious. What a great line.

    We were there recently and I a delicate sole that was swimming in about 8 oz of oil in the plate. Sent it back. Lovely, fresh fish, buried in an oil slick. Manager comes over to see what's wrong as if he's shocked. Told him to go in the back to see the Exxon Valdez. Real shame. They just don't get it.

    1. I went there about a year ago and it was terrible. The waitstaff was incredibly inattentive, even though the place was empty. The only customers who got good service were 2 young, pretty girls who came in for take out - our waiter fawned over them forever. The food was pretty bad, too. I was living close by but I never went back.

      1. To be fair, I have to post again and say that we went there last night and it was excellent. I had fish and it was perfect. Maybe the management read our posts?!