Like certain new kids at school there are some places that just seem to fit in right away. Bucci is one of them. It’s the ideal for its James Street location. In fact, I think it the concept fits even better than it does with its firstborn, Bucci in Macrossan Street in Port Douglas.
What I like (a lot) about Bucci is that it’s imaginative modern Italian but doesn’t lose sight of the Italian ethos of not overdoing it. Food is tasty and perfectly seasoned. I also like that Bucci embraces food from different Italian regions without being too specific or regionalist. The calamari stuffed with Calabrese sausage is a case in point; a tender calamari hood stuffed with sausage with that little bit of spice that we usually don’t expect in Italian food, so habituated as we are to the food of northern Italy. I remember the husband of a friend of my Florence based Aunt who would scandalise all the Fiorentini because he carried around a little test tube of dried chilli with him to sprinkle on food- a spice almost unheard of in that part of Italy. It appears again in a marinated olives, served in a seal-top jar at the table.
I like that two out of our three waiters had strong Italian accents. I like the decor, the open kitchen, the whole friendly vibe. After our assagini (‘little tastes’-share plates which included very moorish deep fried crumble of pig trotter with salsa verde), we had the smoked hay lamb cutlets (the BF), pink and tender and perfectly smoky (ie not too much, not too little); thin ribbons of homemade rabbit-sauced pappardelle (the 12yr old) and olive gnocchi with tender baby asparagus(me). All were excellent.
The wine list is divided into weight rather than varietal ‘light reds/medium reds/fuller bodied reds) which is an easy way of classifying the sometimes unfamiliar Italian labels. It would be great to have some more regional Italian wines, (I recently read for example that Puglia in Italy makes more wine than the whole of Australia!), and Bucci seems like the perfect venue to showcase the well priced end of more interesting regional Italian wines, but to be realistic, the list is probably correctly pitched for its diners.
I couldn’t fit in dessert, but tasted the BFs chocolate nemesis (delicious, but no match for me with my naturally high chocolate tolerance-gained through years of scoffing Dello Mano brownies I suspect) and the 12yr olds ‘Nonna’s dessert’ with raspberries and biscotti and vanilla and mint ice-cream according to 12yr old but it was gone before I could properly look let alone taste!), all very good.
I think the reason Bucci will do so well is that its part of a new style of eating (for Brisbane anyway) where you can call in anytime and share a few plates with a glass of wine or do the traditional entree, main, dessert.
And the menu is highly appeaing- it took us a fair old while to make up our minds.
Congrats to Spencer and Reina Patrick, chef Shaun Malone and their whole team, many of who they’ve coaxed down from Port Douglas. They’ve got the formula spot on as far as I’m concerned and I reckon I’ll be a frequent visitor.