604 KING STREET WEST, TORONTO, ONTARIO
NO ITALIAN RESTAURANT OF RECENT MEMORY HAS COME CLOSE TO MATCHING THE CULINARY IMPACT OF THIS ORIGINAL BUCA, NAMED FOR THE FORMER BOILER ROOM IT NOW OCCUPIES.
When it opened in 2009, salumi was all the rage and Buca chef Rob Gentile swiftly became known as its finest local practitioner. His signature porcine portfolio spanned traditional prosciutto, culatello, lonza and lardo, and then he pushed on to include cured legs of venison and bison, and bresaola made with horse meat. Today the salumi di Buca menu continues to evolve; options include cured Emden goose breast with cinnamon, clove and orange, and cured horse shoulder with juniper and black pepper. Pork, uncommon meats and offal remain this kitchen’s core passion (the menu never sheds its crispy pig’s ear with fennel salt, lamb brain saltimbocca, duck egg bigoli with duck offal ragù, and pork blood pasta with ’nduja and smoked burrata).
An impressive platter, the maialino da latte is an entire suckling pig with Pantelleria lentils, sunchoke, salmoriglio and red plum mostarda. But note, they also have a deft touch with fish and seafood, and produce a constantly evolving selection of crisp, light, thin-crusted Roman-style pizzas, superior to any other offering in town. As with the rest of the menu, the dolci successfully marry tradition and unexpected ingredients. Leather-aproned servers are highly competent and well-informed on the menu and extensive wine selection (200 labels from 20 regions). The restaurant is perpetually crowded and the noise level is high.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday
5:00 PM until10:00 PM
Thursday to Saturday
5:00 PM until 11:00 PM
FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHUCK ORTIZ, INTERIOR BY RICK O’BRIEN