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Buca - Overrated and comically pretentious

Had been looking forward to heading to Buca for some time now and finally had the chance to go this Friday. I had heard about the pretentiousness of it there (aka servers/employees), but I found it comical how great Buca "thinks" it is.

Our meal was by no means bad but I was expecting quiet a bit more, considering how wonderful the people working there think they are and the restaurant - Enoteca Sociale in my mind is a much better equivalent dining experience. There is no pretention at Enoteca and the meals in my mind are definitely better. Buca has a more unique/beautiful space though

I know it was only a one time experience this weekend but after spending the amount of money I did - I expected more

It is interesting how they seemed to treat us as if we had never eaten italian food or had no clue about the wide world of restaurants. I by no means think I am the world's greatest restaurant critic but I have eaten at enough great restaurants (low end to high end) to know that Buca is def not up there.

Lowlights were the meats and cheese plate, and a couple of the pasta dishes

Highlight was one of the white pizzas with chilis and smoky taste, and the actual Buca space

I would like to give it another whirl but it really irked me how they seem to act there - maybe part of it is the whole King West cheesiness, new modern cool thing they might be going for?

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Buca
604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

Enoteca Sociale
1288 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

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  1. You didn't forget to wear your sunglasses while inside, did you?

    haha - but seriously - I have been a couple of times, agree that Enoteca is better, but didn't find it pretentious - maybe you had some pre-conceived notions that turned in to a self-fulfilling prophecy?

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. i'm probably one of the biggest supporters of this restaurant so i'm breaking my silence just to repeat what i've said before.

        pretentious? maybe just a little, but i think it's the style of service they want to offer... ie overly descriptive/helpful which can be condescending seeming. i do find it weird when a restaurant asks you if you've eaten there before unless they have a wildly different concept.

        food overrated? i haven't been to a single restaurant in TO where i would tell anyone to order carte blanche. each has their specialties whether they think it is their specialty or not. it is expensive, no doubt but i'm happy enough with the food that until i find a substitute at a lower price range i'll put up with it begrudgingly and go less frequently (i though enoteca was awful and have yet to make it to campagnolo).

        so... what i order to spectacular success at buca is their small plates/sides, salads/carpaccios/crudos, main protein dishes esp seafood and pizza if i want crispy flatbread. their charcuterie and cheeses have either been too dry or too meh. pasta tends to be a crap shoot and i only ever find one that i really enjoy and then it changes too frequently anyway. i really cannot emphasize though how amazing their carpaccios and crudos are. the last carpaccio i had was the best i've had in a LONG time and the last crudo i had was a delicious steal laden with some serious slices of truffle.

        perhaps, though, we have different tastes. my one visit to enoteca was mostly a disaster except for one app which was quite delicious. i may go back to try it again but it's at the bottom of the list.

        5 Replies
        1. re: pinstripeprincess

          I had a very good meal at Buca and my second visit, we left after one drink on the patio.

          If only the service matched the space.

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          Buca
          604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

          1. re: millygirl

            i'm curious about the service you received or perhaps non-service. the main area i've had difficulty with is actually at the host area. i find that even if i have a reservation they always seem a little offput to go find me a table. otherwise, their young and charming servers as prima has put it have generally provided very good service for me (tastes of wine, decent conversation, table side service, food well timed). i can see how it can be a little too-cool-for-you at times but it's pretty rare for me and they are on the upsell side of things.

            1. re: pinstripeprincess

              It was last summer so forgive me if I am forgetting all of the details but we were with a group of friends - for lunch. And thinking back now, it was more pretention maybe then service. However someone in our group wanted a bloody ceasar which should be simple enough. But no, not at Buca. First off, our server didn't even know what a ceasar was - he was very young and had an accent. In any case, I believe it was the manager that came over to our table to explain that they didn't have ceasars because they feature only italian or local fare. This struck our group as quite comical because it's just not true and from there we decided it was too early in the day for us to be at Buca so we left.

              As I said before we did have a very good dinner there prior to but again, it was more the way in which the lunch time thing was handled that left a bad taste for us.

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              Buca
              604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

          2. re: pinstripeprincess

            I also haven't found a resto where I would order carte blanche in TO. I like Buca's veal carpaccio, flatbreads (esp the one with alici, but I'm an anchovy-lover) and their pigs' ears. Also like their younger male servers, who are some of the most charming + best looking in TO.

            Like the sides and mains at Campagnolo, and liked the pastas and starters at Enoteca.

            I'd happily return to Buca, Campagnolo or Enoteca, and each time I visit, I refine my list of what I'd likely re-order on future visits.

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            Buca
            604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

            Campagnolo
            832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA

            1. re: pinstripeprincess

              I'm with you PP. Buca is one of my fave restos in the city - and I have an extremely low tolerance for King West cheese.

              Their charcuterie is meh, but their cheese platters I find to always be very well selected. The nodini and lamb skewers are amazing and I actually love their pastas, especially the duck ragu one. I have sent many many people to Buca and they have all loved it. THeir flat breads are awesome too.

              I have never noticed any service issues, what some people might call pretentious (and the OP never really explains HOW they were pretentious) other people might find informative and helpful.

              Enoteca Sociale is a pretty good neighbourhood restaurant, but it can't touch Buca. Campagnolo also pretty much destroys Enoteca at it's own game.

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              Buca
              604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

              Enoteca Sociale
              1288 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

              Campagnolo
              832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA

            2. I haven't been to Buca in a while. I find the food hit and miss and a little pricey. But the hits are good enough that I would go back. I have never had a problem with service, in fact I find it very welcoming. I hope there is no restaurant in Toronto that is as bad as this: http://www.gq.com/food-travel/alan-ri...

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              Buca
              604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

              1 Reply
              1. re: dubchild

                Ha - psycho owners!! What a totally bizarre experience. Regarding Buca: I like it. Yes, it's a bit pricey but I enjoy most of the food. I always just thought the servers were really serious about food & liked to share their knowledge. <shrug> I've never experienced pretentious service. I really do like their Tiramisu.

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                Buca
                604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

              2. I had a similar experience, actually. Out of the restaurants that I have looked forward to visiting and dropping a decent amount on this year, Buca was the biggest disappointment.

                The food was decent (charcuterie was decent but didn't approach the Hoof's....a flatbread with truffles was quite good) but I hated the service and atmosphere.

                Schmoozy type of place, overpriced, and we were treated like teenagers from the burbs who had wandered in by accident and had never been to a decent restaurant, had never heard of a truffle, and who would surely balk at their prices....'m not sure what convinced him of this, as we're both generally quite well dressed (however style-wise we're more creative types and less Vuitton and heels, which seems to be their clientele). The server was SO insistent on placing us in the bumpkin demographic that after his 5th visit to our table and his millionth remark about how nice it must be to save up our money for a big night and head into the city, I snapped and corrected him. I have rarely ever been so annoyed with a server.

                Aside from my experience with one server, I'd just rather spend my money somewhere with less flash, less attitude, and better food. For comparison's sake, we were at Campagnolo the next week and LOVED it.

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                Buca
                604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

                Campagnolo
                832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA

                6 Replies
                1. re: NoraRebecca

                  " I'd just rather spend my money somewhere with less flash, less attitude, and better food." then why were you dining in the middle of the King West Club district!

                  When Susur is now a lounge, and a fine dining restuarnt closes so that a weiner shop can open I stay out of the area...

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                  Susur
                  601 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                  1. re: RogerDoger

                    Because I heard Buca was good. Clearly I was wrong.

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                    Buca
                    604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

                    1. re: NoraRebecca

                      Please tell me you are exaggerating for a good story? I cannot imagine a serve making a remark even approaching this and if one did, I would probably lose my cool. Give us more details, I am rapt.

                      1. re: nummanumma

                        I'm not really one for big tantrums so this is the non-exciting part of the story. I told him that we actually lived downtown and had wanted to see how Buca measured up to Enoteca and Campagnolo. His tone changed but the damage was done and his adjusted treatment only annoyed me more. Just didn't go back, that's all.

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                        Buca
                        604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

                        Campagnolo
                        832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA

                  2. re: NoraRebecca

                    Thanks for the hilarious account.

                    Edit: Were either of you wearing overalls?

                    1. re: NoraRebecca

                      "... that after his 5th visit to our table and his millionth remark about how nice it must be to save up our money for a big night and head into the city, I snapped and corrected him."

                      Yikes, he said that? I wouldn't have been so patient. Just wondering, what did you say to him?