One problem with having a destination wedding at the end of a school year is that sometimes some of your favorite people just can’t make it. Such was the case of my cousins (technically, my dad’s cousins, but we’re all just one big… really big… happy family). So upon arriving back in NYC, they offered to take us out to a meal. And that is how we found ourselves at il Buco.
I know I had heard many people speak highly of il Buco, but it just somehow never made it on the list of places to go. I was very glad that my cousins changed that.
The decoration inside is like an eclectic French country farm house that got taken over by a whimsical decorator who enjoyed making lamps look like octopus with tea pots on the end.
(Apologies in advance for the dark photos. Turns out, octopus tea kettle lamps do not bring in as much light as my camera would prefer.)
We split a whole bunch of apps.
We started with the special bread and olive oil and the dish of olives. Both were really way above average. The olive oil had an amazing grassy/woody flavor and the bread was a great combination of crispy crust with fluffy interior. And the olives were probably the best I’ve ever had. Really flavorful.
For plated apps, we tried the Ricotta, which was house made ricotta with Battenkill Farm milk, stonefruit, fennel, hazelnuts, and Catskill honey. I loved the way the honey balanced the stonefruit which balanced the cheese. And the fennel really worked with this dish to further balance out the flavors.
We also split the Insalata di Zucchini with shaved Bodhitree Farm’s summer squash, purslane, toasted almonds, pecorino Sarde, and mint. Fresh and delicious. Loved the mint and toasted almonds complimenting the squash. (This made me want to add mint to all my salads)
FourSquare tips mentioned enjoying the Cavolonero which was Tuscan black kale, garlic-anchovy-lemon vinaigrette, filone croutons, and parmigiano reggiano. Awesome. I am usually only a fan of kale when it’s roasted, but this was in its raw form and it was just brought to life with the vinaigrette and the cheese.
We each got our own entrees, but we certainly passed them around for sampling.
One person got the fish. This was perfectly cooked.
Someone else got the macaroni. I couldn’t try it due to peppers, but she really enjoyed her dish (as did everyone else that tried it).
Mike got the Porchetta with Flying Pigs Farms heritage pork, Umbrian lentils, swiss chard, and grain mustard. I think it also had some chicharones. The pork itself was packed with flavor and had great pieces of fatty meat with a good sear. The potatoes were also crispy and well seasoned.
I got the Papparadelle which was house made egg pasta ribbons and green and yellow summer squash. I loved loved loved this dish. It tasted like summer. Fresh and light but totally satisfying. It seemed too simple: Pasta, squash, cheese. But it all came together in a really nice, full flavor.
One highlight of the night was letting my cousin order the wines. Boy was this a treat! We tried a few superstars including this gem from 1986.
Pretty sure this is the oldest bottle of wine I’ve ever had. And it was sooooo good.
For dessert we tried a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of caramel gelato. These had such intense, wonderful flavors. That chocolate was packed with flavor. Wow.
We also got the Torta di Cioccolato which was flourless chocolate cake, espresso caramel mousse, and candied walnuts. This was so rich and so chocolatey. Reminded me of the desserts my great grandmother made from Europe.
I orered the Panna Cotta all’ Aceto Balsamico which was described as “cooked cream” drizzled with 10-year balsamic vinegar. The panna cotta itself was really flavorful, but the balsamic really put it over the top. It was rich and sweet and had just enough tang to balance the cream.
This was a fantastic meal, start to finish. All the food tasted incredibly special, unique, and really above the norm. I was not expecting to enjoy this meal as much as I did, but now I see why people absolutely love this place.
There was, however, one issue…
Our waitress made it feel like we were inconveniencing her by simply being there. As if her job was slave labor and we were there to enforce her brutality. She actually rolled her eyes, on multiple occasions when we asked questions or asked for refills like water or bread. At one point we asked for the sommelier to come over so we could have wine… with our dinner… novel concept I know. She rolled her eyes, again, and then proceeded to not send him over and finally sent a busser (I think) to take the order instead. This was after we were almost all the way through our dinner. She came over to tell us that the sommelier had been busy, as if we had asked if she could please bring over the President of the United States. I thought maybe she was coming to say “Sorry he is busy and we didn’t get you wine for your dinners.” Not even close.
It was one of the most ridiculous services I’ve ever seen.
It certainly shouldn’t have happened. It really sours an excellent meal when the person whose job it is to be your waitress makes you feel like you are torturing her.
It’s a shame, because despite the service, this restaurant was damn near flawless.
Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10 (One full point deduction for the awful service)