Buca di Beppo, but not? Where?
I have a group of 4 going to lunch on Sunday, one of which we're celebrating a belated birthday, and I'm trying to think of someplace LIKE Buca, but... not. When I asked what kind of food the birthday girl liked it was basically "anything goes, but she likes places with 'character.'" Buca di Beppo came to mind because to me that place screams character, but to be honest I'm not a huge fan of the food. It's alright, but it's been done before by everyone I'll be with.
If I could get a recommendation on someplace, anyplace, whether it be Italian or whatever cuisine you can think of that would be kinda fun and have good food, I'd appreciate it. I live in Encino so anything around here or 20 minutes any which way would be good. Maybe Van Nuys, Studio City, Burbank, Sherman Oaks, or Woodland Hills?
Whatever anyone can recommend I'd appreciate.
The Gardens of Taxco offers good Mexican cuisine and has a spoken menu "...like the chicken was born in the sauce." Unfortunately they are not open for lunch, but if your plans change, it's a good place to keep in mind.
Gardens of Taxco
1113 N. Harper Ave, West Hollywood, CA 90046
In Sunland/Tujunga, on Foothill, is Dominic's ("Dominick's"?), which is sort of what Buca pretends to be. It's a classic "old-red sauce Italian" resto, with enormous portions of actually very tasty food. The Woman in The Hat once referred to their Chicken cacciatore as "Rodan cacciatore", it's so large. The resto was, last time I was there, staffed largely by members of the owner's family. Cam the Chow-Pup had his first pasta in a resto there, seventeen years ago.
Would never go to Buca di Beppo again because of the poor service we got there the last time. Won't bore you all with the details again. Had a great time at Joe's Crab Shack in Redondo Beach at a birthday party a while back. They dressed you up in a costume and paraded everyone around the place in a conga line. They know how to have fun!