No. 45: Buca Osteria & Enoteca
604 King Street West
The Buca brand has expanded beyond its original King Street location to occupy prime real estate from Yorkville to midtown, but the original will always hold something special. It’s raucous and perpetually jammed, and the soaring ceilings ring with the excited chatter of ecstatic diners.
Leather apron-clad servers work the room with aplomb, stopping to take a picture here, eloquently explaining the provenance of an obscure amaro there. The menu threads between straight comfort—sausage-stuffed olives, warm bread knots with olive oil, rosemary and garlic, truffle pizza—and thrillingly adventurous: lamb brain saltimbocca, pork blood pasta, cured horse.
Pasta remains a central component, and it is executed at the highest level. Ruffled scialatielli noodles make a regular appearance, sometimes as a platform for a buttery plate of vongole, other times alongside sweet king crab and herring caviar unexpectedly seasoned with a touch of bergamot.
Hand-cut maccheroncini need nothing more than preserved tomato and aged buffalo milk cheese to set the dish off exquisitely. The salumi program, exceptional when it started at the restaurant’s opening back in 2009, has only matured and bloomed like a spicy salsiccine.
Photo by : Chuck Ortiz