Edmonton

Buco serves up a taste of Italy in St. Albert

Edmonton AM food reviewer Twyla Campbell checks out a new Italian restaurant in St. Albert.

Edmonton AM food reviewer Twyla Campbell checks out a new Italian restaurant in St Albert

From Italian meats to a long list of red wines, Twyla Campbell has plenty of praise for Buco's menu. (Twyla Campbell/CBC )

A new restaurant is giving St. Albert a little taste of Italy.

And the Neopolitan-style pizza and wine Buco Pizzaria & Vino is serving up hit the spot for Edmonton AM food reviewer Twyla Campbell.

Bucco opened at 130 Bellerose Drive in late August. The restaurant is nestled among the boutiques and eateries at The Shops at Boudreau plaza.

The restaurant is managed by the Sorrentino's chain. Buco means "hole" in Italian, and the name is an ode to Hole's Greenhouse, which originally stood in the same location. 

Campbell was impressed with both the food and the digs.

"Buco is a lively modern space," said Campbell. "It's got a great vibe.  It's kind of a quasi-industrial-meets-big-city-chic look."

Customers have a view of the wood-fired oven with lots of seating options, good for intimate meetings or big group outings. Campbell's only beef with the decorations: the chairs could use some extra cushioning.

The main attraction

Pizza - Wood fired oven pizza is really the centrepiece of this restaurant`s menu. With that in mind, Campbell tried as many offerings as she could manage. She says the thin crust comes out of the oven beautifully charred, smoky and delicious. Foodies can choose from a variety of sauces and interesting toppings, including a host of Italian meats, a roster of cheeses and mushrooms. Extra toppings are $4 each. But Campbell warns going overboard can leave your thin slice a bit soggy.

Beyond the slice

Little bites - The assaggini (meaning little bites in Italian) menu includes 10 small plates to sample.  Campbell tried the pancetta bruschetta first. It was a stand-out for Campbell but, at $4 apiece, the price seemed a little steep. Campbell's table, still feeling hungry, ordered a couple more of the appetizers.

The short ribs - Fried balls of shredded short rib, mixed with gorgonzola and béchamel sauce, was a winning item for Campbell. The spiedino dish did not fare so well. Campbell says the four bites of beef on skewers with herbs and garlic were served lukewarm and bland.

Main Course

Lasagna - One of four oven-baked pasta dishes.  A hefty portion, rich with great flavour and lots of cheese. Campbell gives it the thumbs-up, especially if you're looking for a "stick to your ribs" kind of meal.

Sausage - Made right here in Edmonton, Campbell says this locally sourced dish is spicy but juicy.

Porchetta - Campbell was disappointed with this entree. It didn't look like your typical porchetta, and didn't taste like it either, she said.

Nightcap

Campbell recommends wine over cocktails at Buco. Their wine list is extensive, with 16 of them offered by the glass. And if you need more incentive to drink while you eat. the six-ounce glass of wine costs a reasonable $12. Campbell was also impressed with Bring Your Own Wine Mondays. There is no corkage fee and a great incentive to get out on a work night.

For dessert, Campbell couldn't pass on the panna cotta which included mascarpone and strawberries. However, the fruit was lacklustre. Campbell says it looked and tasted like frozen strawberries from a can, and a server confirmed her suspicions.

Campbell says the servers were "fast, efficient and friendly" but lacked knowledge of food, ingredients and preparation methods. Campbell`s server had to make numerous trips back to the kitchen to find the answers she was looking for.

But that didn`t put a damper on Campbell's meal.

"I would go back, I'd look for that drink special, get some pizza and have some fun."

You can follow Twyla's food adventureshere.