Last night was Date Night with mi madre!! A friend of her's from work was graduating from the Rose City School of Burlesque so we were going to show our support for him. We had time before the show so I went hunting for a restaurant in the area for us to try.
Usually when I'm looking for a restaurant within a very specific area (like only a few blocks off our driving route) I ZOOOOOOOOOOOM in on Google Maps, open links to any of the restaurants shown, and then Yelp them to see reviews. Well on Monday I came across La Buca.
Now, being third generation Italian and having been raised on my grandmother's marinara, it's hard to please me with an Italian restaurant....and even harder to please my mother! (Who isn't Italian but married into one for twenty years).
La Buca got 4 of 5 stars on Yelp and had a pretty good looking menu (and way not expensive btw). So we thought we'd give it a shot. Let me just say we are both so glad we did!
It's on the corner of a small block of other restaurants (and just down the street from the Bossanova Ballroom where the show was) and had a very casual inside. A mix of modern art and movie posters, small simple tables, the industrial warehouse look that many places have in Portland.The kitchen was open to the view of the diners, where a dread-locked young woman apparently ruled the kitchen alone.
We ordered our drinks (my mother's wine came in a juice glass) and decided we'd start with sharing an order of Pomodoro Bruschetta (for an extra .75 we added prosciutto)....so basically toasted bread with a large shmear of garlic, diced tomatoes, fresh basil all topped with melt in your mouth-paper thin slices of pork. I'd go back JUST for the prosciutto!!
My mother decided to order the pasta special for her entree - it was a ribbon pasta with a beef/lamb/pork bolognese sauce. I, of course, snagged a bite (or two) and it too was delicious. I love a fat noodle (as I like to say) and the meat sauce was just so tender. The waitress told us it was her favorite and she wishes it was a regular item on the menu.
I ordered the pesto basilico (pesto with pine nuts, basil and walnuts) with a linguine. It was okay. Probably my least favorite of the night but still really good. The pesto sauce was fresh and you could taste every individual ingredient. It was just a little heavy on the walnuts - which I'm not a huge fan of.
Both our pastas came with bread, butter and olive oil & vinegar. The balsamic vinegar was really nice - helped make up for the slightly stale dry bread.
With an hour until the performance and with our dinner being so delicious...how could we not at least ask to look at the dessert menu. ;) We ended up sharing a tirimisu. Not the best either of us has had but definitely not our worst either.
In the end we both agree this is a place to come back to. There are a number of menu items I'd like to still give a try...and like I said earlier, they could just plot a plate of that prosciutto in front of me and I'd be a happy girl.