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.
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.
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.
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.
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.