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Feb 21, 2012 08:03 PM

Bucci's -- What a Gem [Emeryville]

When I'm not eating with my wife for one reason or another, I usually seem to find myself at the counter at Bucci's. Every time I go there I tell myself I'm going to get something other than the margherita pizza, which, in my book, is second only to Delfino's, though of a very different style. This time, I finally resisted the allure of the margherita. I ordered a Ceasar salad and Antipasti plate.

The salad (okay, I have had that before) uses nicely chilled, quality romano with garlic croutons, a lemon/anchovy dressing and shavings of parmesan.

The antipasto plate included grilled lamb with charmoula, tuna confit with a Meyer lemon salsa, mussels escabeche, grilled eggplant with balsamic, and a caprese salad in the middle. What a wonderful assortment of quality ingredients with deft spicing. The tuna was the star of the plate, with the lamb a close second. The escabeche sauce with the mussels was great for dipping a crust of bread.

The only disappointment was the winter tomatoes in the caprese. (And I should add that I'm not especially fond of the bread they serve, or the very salty olives.)

But all in all, Bucci's is a gem. The service is always friendly, the prices reasonable, the food excellent.

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    1. It's not totally surprising that the winter tomatoes didn't deliver .... what is surprising is that places would have it on their menu at all when tomatoes are not at their best. the antipasto plate sounds very interesting.

      1. I go there only once or twice a year, but enjoy it every time. At a recent lunch, my server mentioned that the place is celebrating its 25th year (IIRC) of consistently good food and service. I agree that it's a gem.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Rapini

          I remember eating there when they first opened in 1990 or 1991, one of the first "fancy" restaurants in that neighborhood, along with the Townhouse. Sounds like it's time for a return visit.

          Edited: Their website says 1988, along with a lot of fun history:

        2. I'd like to add that in addition to top notch cooking, and a lovely ambience, there's more than ample parking (at least at nite).

          they also have a side room that's great for small parties.

          1. I was underwhelmed by a recent visit for dinner. I suppose I had very high expectations from good distant memories. The salads were the standout. We had the butter lettuce & the spinach - very fresh, well dressed and large. I did not like the pizza margherita though the ingredients were top notch the soggy middle detracted from the pie. My entree mahi mahi lacked flavor - though potion large, fish fresh. & well cooked. Choc. Pot de creme excellent finish & big enough to split.

            4 Replies
            1. re: 510jeff

              The soggy / raw middle is a longstanding issue.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Is this the same Neopolitan pizza thing where it should be uncut and eaten with knife and fork from the edge, or something rawer ?

                1. re: bbulkow

                  It's not that.

                  Generally the food's very good and reasonably priced, and the atmosphere is very pleasant. It's a neighborhood institution.

              2. re: 510jeff

                I'll chime in here to say that I've eaten at Bucci's many times over the years since about the time they opened. I've always enjoyed the food and ambiance and it's still one of my favorite places. Nothing cutting edge and I've never had the pizza, but always really enjoyed the food, wine, the place itself, and their reasonable prices.