Chef Rob Gentile’s idea for this third iteration of Buca Osteria & Bar was to apply his much-admired customary culinary approach (part traditional, part iconoclastic) to the underexplored realm of coastal Italian cooking. And while sustainably harvested fish and seafood remain the culinary raison d’être, the approach has over the years become less doctrinaire. If you fancy prime rib with truffle-infused brown butter or duck egg bigoli with duck offal ragù, no problem. But be advised: the piscine side of the menu is the best place to play. The salume di mare (like tuna soppressata, pistachio-flecked side stripe shrimp mortadella, scallop-and-lobster sausage, etc.) is superb. So are the tricks with piscine offal (vesiga from a sturgeon spinal-tap, and “n’duja” cast from tuna bloodline). Or you can opt for some of the sea’s less challenging delicacies: an Italian caviar service, or the exquisite lobster pasta, one of the most luscious iterations you’ll find anywhere. Chef de Cuisine Kris Lee’s menu degustazione at the chef ’s counter is an experience to covet and remember. The wine list is very strong, service ultra-professional, and the room modern and sleek, if a little spare and noisy.
Photos: MIKE TJIOE, LAUREN MILLER, JEFFREY CHAN