MARBLE AND BRICK, steel I-beams and cement ceilings. With the lights dimmed and the sagrantino flowing, a guest, moved by the aroma coming off a plate of tortellini in brodo, might just think she’s been transported to a restored ruin in Trastevere.Even with the Buca empire expanding beyond its King Street beginnings to tonier neighbourhoods and even fortunate suburbs, the original location still captures something special. When it opened in 2009, salume 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 horsemeat.At first glance, much of the menu looks familiar: there are sections for salume, pasta, pizza and meat, but a closer inspection reveals that the kitchen revels in clever, creative interpretations of these classic dishes. Lardo is cured with a touch of cinnamon. Gnocchi, built from buffalo ricotta, are stuffed with Taleggio, dressed in smoked butter and doused with truffle. Even for a city obsessed with “authentic” pizza, Buca’s crisp, airy, Roman-style pizzas, with toppings like slow-cooked duck leg and butternut squash or smoked mozzarella and house-made salume, remain among Toronto’s very best. Good use is made of offal and off-cuts: crispy pig’s ears with fennel salt, pork-blood pasta, lamb-brain saltimbocca.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday
5:00 PM until10:00 PMThursday to Saturday
5:00 PM until 11:00 PM