No. 38: Bar Buca
Only Buca Executive Chef Rob Gentile would notice that the Toronto food scene had a major gap to fill in the form of a small Italian bar that had no pizza or pasta—but was there for you seven days a week should you feel the need for a little stigghiole (grilled lamb intestine) or spiedini (meat skewers—as in ewe’s meat or baby octopus).
Tucked away on the main level of a condominium on Portland Street, this bar actually begins its day as a smart café at 7 am sharp, peddling superior Italian pastries (pasticceria) and strong coffee.
“Bar” enters the equation at lunchtime, when the 38-odd seats—split between bar and communal high top tables—fill up with locals in need of a fiercely tasty lunch. Italian street food is, in fact, just a small part of the offering.
There is also good seafood and some sensational brightly-flavoured and well-textured salads—like raw pressed artichoke with buffalo yoghurt and bottarga. Bar Buca is designed to be many things. At dinner you can make a meal of it. Or you stop in for an appetite enhancing nibble before dinner elsewhere—or for that matter pass by for a restorative late night snack en route home (a fine idea if your dinner elsewhere was lacking). Plenty of good, reasonably priced wines are available by the glass.
I just love the simple creative dishes and the casual scene. – MARIE-CLAUDE LORTIE