During my trip to Vancouver in November, my foodie friend Grayelf recommended that I try La Buca as it is one of her favourite places for rustic Italian fare in a casual contemporary setting. I had read a lot of great things about La Buca and had high expectations for this visit. The menu at La Buca changes frequently to reflect seasonal ingredients. There were so many dishes that sounded delicious on the menu that I had a hard time deciding. But in the end, the dishes that really caught our eye ended up being the daily specials for each of the courses.
Grayelf and her SO both started off with the Crostada topped with Pork Cheek Bacon and Fried Egg ($12.50). The Crostada was crispy and light and sat on a bed of well-dressed arugula. The yolk of the fried egg was perfectly runny and coated all the elements of the dish nicely. The flavours of the housemade pork cheek bacon was amazing and definitely made the dish. After tasting a bite of it, I wish that was what I had ordered.
I opted for the Tuna Crudo with Meyer Lemon ($12.50). This was more of a strategic decision on my part on the ordering as I already had my sights set on dessert and needed to make sure I had enough tummy room. I already knew I was going to be having a heavier dish for my main course so I wanted an appetizer that was less filling. And the Tuna Crudo fit the bill perfectly. The Tuna Crudo was well-prepared and the fish was very fresh. However, next to the Crostada, I thought it paled in comparison as the Crostada had the wow factor from the pork cheek bacon.
For our mains, both Grayelf and her SO had the Arctic Char with Chanterelles and Cauliflower Puree ($27). The fish was perfectly cooked with a crispy skin and the cauliflower puree was silky and smooth. The dish was served with some Jerusalem artichokes along with the chanterelles. I had a taste of this dish and thought it was very good and everything was cooked perfectly. However, I didn’t think the flavours overall had much of a wow factor.
I had the Risotto frutti di mare ($32). The risotto was perfectly al dente and the flavours were amazing. The seafood, which consisted of a seared scallop, mussels, a king crab leg, prawns, and fish, was perfectly cooked. What really made the dish special was the delicious tomato-based sauce. It tied all the elements of the dish together. The flavours were bright and complex. It has been such a long time since I’ve been wowed by a risotto dish and this one really did it for me. Compared to the Arctic Char, the Risotto fruitti di mare was definitely the winner. Though this dish was a little on the pricey side at $32, I would go back to La Buca to have it again in a heartbeat if it was available on the menu.
For dessert, we shared an order of the Apple Zeppoli ($7.50). This was the dessert that I’d be waiting to try. I had never tried zeppoli before and was looking forward to sample a well-made version. Zeppoli are basically Italian doughnuts that are usually light, puffy, and rolled in powdered sugar. These zeppoli were filled with tart, crisp apple pieces and rolled in sugar. I liked how sugary exterior was contrasted by the tartness from the apple pieces so overall, the zeppoli were not too sweet. These zeppoli were really tasty and easily the best apple “fritters” I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to go back to have them again.
As well, we tried the Panna Cotta ($7.50). The Panna Cotta was topped with tangerine supremes. The Panna Cotta was well-executed and had the perfect consistency. It was silky, creamy, and light. The slight acidity from the tangerines contrasted the creaminess of the Panna Cotta perfectly.
Overall, I was really impressed with our meal at La Buca. The service was top-notch and our server was really knowledgeable about all the dishes on the menu. The Chianti Classico that he chose for me to pair with the risotto really complemented the dish. I would say the dishes we had ranged from being very good to outstanding. To me, the real standouts were the Crostada with the Pork Cheek Bacon and of course, the Risotto frutti di mare. While dinner didn’t come cheap, I thought it was definitely worth the splurge and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to La Buca again.
4025 Macdonald St