855 Howard Street, SF 94103, 415.543.7673
After coming here several times for our annual Christmas dinner for work (we are an impoverished IT group working for a local luxury retailer with no funding for fun), I’ve developed a certain fondness for this place. It definitely is not high cuisine – it is doesn’t even try to be. I think that when you eat at Buca di Beppo, you’ve just gotta let go of all pretenses and have fun, otherwise you aren’t going to enjoy yourself at all.
Buca di Beppo is a very good place for a group, they are known for the size of their plates, maybe not so much for the quality, but sometimes that isn’t as important… We were able to score the Pope’s table, which is key if you want to have a little privacy. The decor is pretty screwball, and there are plenty of whacked out pictures of nuns and popes on the walls.
The waiter was bossy and I didn’t feel confident in his table savvy, but we got food, lots of it. The salad was surprisingly good – the dressing was fresh and lively and tossed very well.
The gnocchi ala telefono looked horrifying, the bits of mozzarella resembled mini marshmallows, but since it was one of the first dishes out, we demolished it… It actually was pretty tasty, a light tomato cream sauce with fresh basil and mozzarella cheese is always a good combination.
The margherita pizza was amazing, it had such an excellent thin crisp crust and disappeared in a flash
The meatballs weren’t very memorable, although the size of the meatballs impressed everyone
I liked the chicken cannelloni very much, chicken sausage stuffed pasta shells smothered with a tomato cream sauce and cheese, it was very rich and flavorful. I think that one of the keys to eating here successfully is to share a lot of dishes, so you only have to eat a little bit. A whole plate of this would have been overwhelming…
The chicken saltimbocca, chicken breasts with artichoke hearts and wrapped in prosciutto with a lemon butter sauce and capers, was very good – the chicken was juicy and the sauce was not too heavy.
The lasagna was my least favorite dish, it was thick and ungainly and had way too much ricotta cheese. Also, it arrived later so my taste-buds were getting overloaded.
We had the dessert platter, which didn’t even make it all the way around the table once, and neither did the extra large bottle of chianti. We horsed around and had a white elephant gift exchange and were able to be as loud as we wanted without any appalled looks from our neighbors. That, right there, is the beauty of Buca di Beppo.
Read about next year’s celebration 2007