Friday, May 13, 2005

Romano Cheesy

**FLYING CONDITIONS: Hazy**



Buca di Beppo, from what I've read on the net, appears to be a restaurant that you love or hate. I for one, love dining there.

Yes, it's tacky. Yes, it's served family style. Yes, it's loud. No, it's not haute Italian cuisine.

This is why I like Buca: The food is good, solid, Southern Italian food (not fancy, but tasty.) The atmosphere is simply tongue-in-cheek fun. Where else can you eat in the "Pope Room?" There is also a Wine Room (where we ate), a Poster Room and a Mozzarella room. Traditional Italian music is played, as is "The Chairman." It's like "Moonstruck" on crack.

No, Italian-Americans do not really live like Buca might suggest (to the humor impaired.) I know this for a fact.

I grew up in an area that has a huge Italian population. My first teachers were Italian nuns who would bicker in their native language and pull you by the ear if you were naughty. I've known people named Vinnie or Giovanna. I grew up eating at family-run Italian restaurants: Antone's, Scarcella's, Belleria, Isle of Capri (to name a few.) I've had red wine (always made by some older family member) so strong you can smell it five feet away. I've danced the Tarantella at weddings. Several of my best friends are Italian, and no, their family homes look nothing like Buca.

That being said, I have been in homes that display a picture of the Pope. I have seen homes landscaped with white marble fountains, statues, columns and other elements better suited to an Italian Villa, rather that the brick ranch house they are usually displayed in front of. I've been to Miss Italian-America pageants. I've seen Italian flags sharing a pole with the Stars and Stripes. I've witnesses plastic grapes used as decor. Really.

Any Italian family that I've know has always welcomed this German-Slovak girl into their home as if I was part of the family. They were full of energy and had a real desire to enjoy life. Maybe that's why I like Buca di Beppo. Yes, it's decorated as if all the idiosynchratic memorabilia from every immigrant Italian family was dumped in one room. But it's a warm, friendly place where you are welcomed in to have a good meal and an enjoyable time. It's full of life.

I can only speak for my own experience. I was very satisfied with the food and the service at the Buca di Beppo I visited. Taste in restaurants is subjective, so it's best to just try it yourself.

www.bucadibeppo.com

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