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Have to go to awful restaurant tonight--what should I order?

My husband has left his job and some colleagues are having a going away party tonight at Buca di Beppo. I'd never heard of this place, but the reviews sound dreadful. If we have a choice (the menu may have been selected by the hosts, so my question could be moot), is there anything that isn't huge and swimming in grease? I think they specialize in hugeness, based on some of the reviews.

Yes, we are grateful guests and the point is to say farewell, so we will certainly be kind. Just wondering if anyone else had been there?

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  1. I've been to several large dinners here and feel your pain. Some of their stuff is passable, but not swimming in grease is nearly impossible, and everything is huge. Their chopped salad isn't bad (get dressing on the side if you can). I recall they have a passable frutti de mare.

    1. Buca di Beppo serves "family style" which means salads come pre-dressed and portions are humongous. I had to go once--a friend of mine loves it--and I got some minestrone and a caprese salad. I've had worse. Yes, that is damning with faint praise. :D

      Buca di Beppo
      233 Elm St, Dedham, MA 02026

      1. Go simple. Usually places like these are ok if you go as simple as possible with the food. Maybe spaghetti and meatballs and a Caesar salad.

        3 Replies
        1. re: hiddenboston

          A reviewer on Yelp ordered the spaghetti, then complained about having to eat it for three days! LOL. I may have to pass on that unless I can find a starving family to share it with me.

            1. re: coolhandluke

              That was my point. If someone on Yelp thought it sucked, it must be really horrid! But it's just one meal, someone else is paying, and I am thankful.

        2. It's not awful or dreadful at all, just not terrific. Their caprese salad is decent, their ravioli is okay. I had the chicken saltimbocca last time I was there and it was nothing special, but not awful by any means. Have some of their extremely sweet sangria.

          9 Replies
          1. re: Boston_Otter

            That's two votes for the caprese, then. I'll order that. It's hard to screw it up unless the mozarella isn't fresh or they pre-drown it in oil and vinegar.

            The sangria sounds good for such a hot day. I might try that, too.

            I just don't get the huge portion thing at all.

            1. re: Isolda

              The portions are made to serve 'family style' -- two or three entrees/salads are plenty for four or five people, easily. They're intended for sharing.

              1. re: Boston_Otter

                from the menu"At Buca di Beppo®, we serve family−style food in two portion sizes. Buca Small® feeds up to three and Buca Large® feeds an average−size country. Well, actually it serves up to six.

                At lunch we offer single-servings in addition to our traditional family style portions."

            2. re: Boston_Otter

              Agreed. I've been there once and I thought it was just fine. Portions are big because the dishes are meant to be shared.

                1. re: jmckee

                  Which ones have you had? I've only had the margherita.

                  1. re: Fibber McGee

                    I had the standard peperoni and was impressed... Thinner crust , fresh tasting topping great ratio of sauce and cheese... Honestly I would go there for pizza and salad and be very happy

                    1. re: Augie6

                      That's how the margherita I had was.

                    2. re: Fibber McGee

                      I've had the margherita and the veggie. with a glass of chianti (or two. or three) and a salad, very nice, actually.

                2. I've not been there, but eyeballing that menu, it's clear that a simple small, thin pizza with few ingredients would probably be least bad. Much safer bet than pasta.

                  1. How does the quality of the food compare to Bertucci's ? (Don't laugh, I have people who like this style of food.) Better or worse than the late Vinny Testa's? How about Maggiano's? I sure miss Cappuccino's.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: CookieLee

                      In my experience, a small step down from Bertucci's, better than Vinny Testa's, and a giant leap downwards from Maggiano's.

                      1. re: CookieLee

                        Bertucci's has several things I enjoy, namely their new arugula salad and their chocolate hazelnut crostata. Those are actually good. We tried Vinny Testa's once; it was awful; we called it Vinny Testosterone's after that because of the massive portion. Seriously, who needs 6 veal cutlets? Buca looks like the same menu, unfortunately.

                        We used to eat at the Cappuccino's in Brookline back in the early 90s, when I was still in grad school, because it was decent and had reasonable prices.

                      2. The pizza margherita isn't bad.

                        1. So, please tell us how awful your dreadful, swimming in grease dinner was...I love it when people are forced, coerced, held at gunpoint to eat somewhere they already hate even though they've never been there. Why not just say you were "invited" and want advice on what to order? BTW, never eaten there, so I actually am curious how bad it was.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: hamboney

                            The heightened sense of drama in these posts is puzzling. If the food looks abhorrent then order a green salad or skip the food altogether. On the other hand, one subpar meal never killed anyone. I've eaten at plenty of places that were not first (or second, or third) choices - Subway comes to mind - it's edible, the ingredients are not spoiled or tainted and, once in a while, it's surprisingly "okay."

                            1. re: hamboney

                              Isolda where are you? After all this advice it would be great to hear how your meal was.

                            2. I like their spaghetti and meatballs as well as the tiramisu ... both are very enjoyable in a very white-trash, trailer park way. And I mean that in a complimentary way.

                              In fact, I've always been tempted to order a side-dish of their meatballs and pair it with the mozzarella garlic bread and make my own totally over-the-top Guy Fieri-ish Italian Meatball Sub.

                              1. I think it's a good choice for a group. Since the portions are huge, you share, part of the experience. Let someone else order what will be shared anyhow. My wife and I both enjoy the salads. My wife loves their meatballs.

                                Don't be scared. Relax and enjoy the company, a nice gesture on their part. Don't spoil it for them or your husband. Go with the flow.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: DPGood

                                  Don't be scared. Relax and enjoy the company, a nice gesture on their part. Don't spoil it for them our your husband. Go with the flow.

                                  Such sage advice should be stated more often, if not abided by.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    The dude abides.
                                    Sorry to hijack the post, but I REALLY would like to know how BAD it was. There was one in DSM, but closed years ago when the over-expanded & I was never INVITED to eat there, but would have been honored to try a new Chain.

                                2. its not that horrible...

                                  yes the portions are huge...so be prepared to bring home leftovers...

                                  i like the salads...
                                  the fried mozz isnt bad...
                                  the spicy chicken rigatoni was good...
                                  the prosciutto stuffed chicken is good..
                                  the lemon chicken is ok...

                                  we usually go with bigger groups...
                                  but usually if we go my wife and i only get one or two things and share...and still bring home leftovers...

                                  and yes...how can u say its bad if u have never been there?

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: srsone

                                    >>>and yes...how can u say its bad if u have never been there?<<<

                                    A philosophical answer to that. I think bad restaurants, especially bad chain restaurants, have some hallmarks that do allow one to pre-judge the food with some confidence and fairness.

                                    Certainly if there is a preponderance of bad reviews from many sources, this ought to be a tip-off (duh). Why does anyone otherwise consult Chowhound, or Yelp, or any of many other sources? This was the OP's starting point for this thread. Of course none of these sources is perfect, but if one uses them carefully they are informative.

                                    Another hallmark is providing large quantities of food at low prices. It is not possible to do so without compromising somewhere. Unless there is an obvious operational trade-off, such as no service or something of that nature, then it is likely the compromise is in food quality. This is not rocket science.

                                    Finally, this is going to veer into food-snobism so apologies in advance, but the source of any complimentary remarks about a place tells a lot. If you know the person is not particularly "into" food, then their opinion is probably not worth much, and the opposite applies as well. Personally, if I know someone's attitude is they can't understand how ANYBODY could spend $XX for a meal, or they won't eat in a place where the staff is unusual-looking, or love places because they give you SO MUCH FOOD, then I really don't think their opinion is of much value to me, and it might even go the other way, i.e. if they like the place then I probably won't.

                                    So yes I do think it is possible to form reasonably valid opinions without actually going there. While it is not a perfect process, none of us has unlimited time to try everyplace out there, and advance culling can indeed help achieve better outcomes.

                                    1. re: johnb

                                      if it was a bad chain...and i find nothing but bad reviews...yes i might hesitate to go...
                                      but the ones (bdb) in our area have nothing but good reviews..the mostly negative reviews are for poor service...
                                      based on the reviews of the local ones i would at least try it...

                                      i am usually up for trying things first...even chains...

                                      and i have eaten at our local BDB several times...its not 4 star michelin rated food..no
                                      but for a chain its ok

                                      my wife and i even had our wedding rehearsal dinner there...

                                      1. re: srsone

                                        Full disclosure. Interestingly enough, we had our rehearsal dinner at Maggiano's. But I was not in the loop on that decision; I recall expressing misgivings, but they were quickly brushed aside, as were all my other opinions about the wedding plans, as is the normal fate of a groom. (I often comment that the role of the groom in a wedding is the same as that of the corpse at a funeral--to be there but otherwise not to be heard from). Anyway, the rehearsal group was generally not in the food-knowledgeable category, so they enjoyed it.

                                        1. re: johnb

                                          A fairly recent thread about good Italian food in the Boston area resulted in a number of people voicing the opinion that Maggiano's is truthfully one of the better Italian places in Boston. And having had some abysmal meals in the North End, I'd totally agree.

                                          1. re: johnb

                                            Not to thread jack, but the menu was the one thing that I did get involved with in my wedding. She and her mom took care of everything else. I didn't get noticed at all that weekend, as it should be (well except for my pants almost falling down at the alter).

                                    2. Odds are very good there was a pre-chosen menu if it's part of a large group. Had a grandkid choose this for her graduation dinner, and we just took a deep breath and went with the flow. Not as bad as we expected; pasta overcooked, of course, but I recall some of the sauces as being adequate.

                                      1. Did you survive with minimal trauma? What was the experience?

                                        1. So, Isolda, did you survive?

                                          1. I actually enjoy Buca , one of the Italian chains that I think does a decent job. Thier Pizza if very nice , way better than any chain pizza I had. I would like to hear what Isolda thought , also. Been there 5 times and had a decent meal each time ( granted I never went there by choice)

                                            1. Sounds like the purpose of the dinner is to enjoy the company and say goodbye to some friends - not to supply your nutritional needs for the next month. No one will hold a gun to your head to force you to be a member of the clean plate club; nor force doggie bags if you did not enjoy the food. Buca's in Seattle at the"Pope's Table" can be a lot of fun for a group of friends. Not the same as the tasting menu at the French Laundry - but then again, what is? Lighten up, take it for what it's worth and have a good time!

                                              1. Isolda...we need an update......
                                                you never told us what happened???
                                                how was it??

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: srsone

                                                  Maybe after all the melodrama about this "awful" restaurant (which is actually not bad at all), she actually had a good time.

                                                  1. re: jmckee

                                                    thats my thinking....
                                                    and now she's to embarrassed to admit it.....

                                                    1. re: srsone

                                                      we went last week and had good fruitti di mare and lobster ravioli. The seafood appetizer platter was good too. I signed up for their e club and recieved a coupon for free brownine sundae! Yeah. WHat could be bad about that! ;)

                                                  2. re: srsone

                                                    buried under the patio with ribs man?