Sunday, October 4, 2015Cloudy 12°C

Bar Buca

Posted by Toto Schillaci / Profiled on February 6, 2014 / review policy

Bar Buca TorontoBar Buca has finally arrived at King and Portland. Wondering what took so long? The 14-month delay was mostly due to the red tape of acquiring a liquor license. And the license was essential. The entire menu here has been designed with a drink-first focus.

Bar BucaInside, the cozy 38-seater feels like a modern hangout in Italy thanks to the stand-up marble bar and unfussy industrial-chic design. They have four sommeliers and more than 30 wines on offer but we start with an impeccably made Ciociora ($11, Bombay Sapphire, grenadine, tonic, lemon, fennel tincture).

Bar BucaThe menu mostly consists of shared plates you can eat with your hands. We try the Insalata Siciliana ($7), which is a mixture of fennel, red onion, garum (fish sauce) and puffed veal tendon. I'm not a huge fennel fan but I still enjoyed this dish since it's the furthest thing from bitter.

Bar BucaThere's no better drinking partner than a plate of something fried. The Gran Fritto Misto ($22) features young smelts topped with fennel salt, baby artichokes with a bergamot zabaglione, rock shrimp, fried rabbit leg and possibly the best arancino I've had in the city thanks to its intensely creamy texture.

Bar BucaMost porchetta in the city is dry and has to be disguised with loads of sauce. The Porchetta Schiacciata ($11) here, on the other hand, is beyond moist and rests between a delicious housemade foccaccia and is finished (not buried) with mascarpone, apple mostarda and agliata.

Bar BucaUp next is the Polpetta Di Capra ($14), a goat and ricotta meatball that blows me away. The sprinkled pine nuts are a nice (and expensive) touch, which goes to show these guys aren't holding back when it comes to quality ingredients.

Bar BucaWe then dig into the Frico ($10), a straightforward Fruilani dish that consists of fried Montasio cheese, potato and buffalo yogurt. Like many pizzas, it's one of those simple dishes that's divine. It's the perfect bar snack made for indulging with your hands.

Bar BucaThe Amazzafegato ($14) is probably the heaviest dish on the menu but also a standout. It's a Tuscan offal sausage (organ meats) accompanied by kale and porcini farro. And just to make it more indulgent, the chef tops it with a poached hen's egg. Bold, charred and rustic, it's a peasant dish elevated to the highest standards. It's also served at weekend brunch and is a serious contender for best hangover plate.

As for dessert, I actually overheard the guy next to me say the cannoli is life changing. The shell is surprisingly soft and when I closed my eyes while tasting the fresh ricotta filling I could have sworn I was transported to Palermo.

Bar BucaI'd be remiss if I didn't mention the coffee. Sourcing the right coffee was crucial because Bar Buca is open in the mornings and a big part of their business will be takeout coffee. Besides having a creative list of specialty coffees, they allow you to upgrade your cappuccino to buffalo milk and their normal milk is a creamy, organic version from Quebec.

Bar BucaIf there's one thing I've learned from this place it's that you get the sense the owners aren't doing this for the money. It's as if it's just a group of guys who take pride in feeding you what they like to eat. And what they like to eat just happens to be extraordinary.

Bar BucaBar Buca is open 7 nights a week from 7am - 2am and doesn't accept reservations.

Photos by Jesse Milns



VadimM / February 6, 2014 at 02:36 pm
Just saying... It is a very meaty place with virtually zero vegetarian options. Also - their chocolate croissant has some kind of liqueur in it, and the Americano was so-so. Personally I most likely will not go back, its not to my taste... but I could see how for some it could be a mecca.
Casandra replying to a comment from VadimM / February 6, 2014 at 03:37 pm
Do they at least have a non-dairy milk for their coffee?
ryan / February 6, 2014 at 04:18 pm
Those pine nuts maybe cost them 20 cents.
Steve / February 6, 2014 at 05:01 pm
Place looks and sounds great. I'm in!
simple_mel / February 6, 2014 at 08:46 pm
offal sausage? Rabbit leg? Goat meatballs? puffed tendon? I am not carnivore enough for this place, I'm afraid...blech. Maybe I'll just try a coffee.
gl / February 6, 2014 at 10:12 pm
not in it for the money?! do you even know who is behind the project? here have a look at the company
hope / February 7, 2014 at 02:49 am
Hopefully it will be quiet enough in there to have a conversation.
416 / February 7, 2014 at 09:58 am
buca is top notch
All I hear is people crying about this or that
Go to the olive garden instead....haha
French Fry replying to a comment from MrsPotato / February 7, 2014 at 12:39 pm
Aren't you the one with the hubby who has inordinate Calgarian civic pride about Ceasers?
May I suggest a suburban Earls or Joeys instead? I believe they comes from Western Canada, so it would be a much safer alternative.
pamela / February 7, 2014 at 03:07 pm
have been three times already. the food is unbelievable. definitely try the burrata... they make it in house. freshest burrata I've had outside of Italy. yum!
Marianne / February 8, 2014 at 08:01 am
AMAZING! Not your ordinary pop in restaurant/cafe, this one is tops! Very cozy atmosphere with an amazing creative menu and beautiful presentation. Of the 3x I've been there, I just want to go back again and again to try somthing else. Love the food, staff and atmosphere! You got to try the Rabbit Leg and the Mortadella sandwich.
Confused / February 9, 2014 at 10:49 am
For a place apparently so focused on alcohol, you wouldn't know it by this review...
Sara / February 18, 2014 at 05:14 pm
What is the easist item to eat if your not trying to be messy here? Or perhaps a good sharing item.
MJ replying to a comment from Casandra / February 20, 2014 at 04:40 pm
yes they have soy milk
KW / February 28, 2014 at 03:59 pm
Double shot latte $5.09? Tastes like half a shot, no flavor.
Good luck on morning take out coffee business.
Perry Como / March 7, 2014 at 03:22 pm
this has to be one of the best places in Toronto. i love it
Ernesto Riccardo / March 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm
I've eaten at hundreds of restaurants. Bar Buca is one of the best. The quality of food, and flavour is unbelievable. I've been back several times with family and friends. They all rave about the place. The manager Davide is good natured and professional. The staff and atmosphere, great.
E / May 5, 2014 at 09:10 am
I went based on this review, and the results were very disappointing. Extremely salty and greasy, and rather expensive as well.

Not recommended
BillyO / August 22, 2014 at 07:05 am
I've been here several times, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night snack/drink and this is one of the best restaurants in toronto. I actually like it better than Buca itself. In terms if vegetarian options, while there aren't a lot, the caprese-like focaccia, the pesto eggs (breakfast only), and the potato pizza thing above are standouts.

Also not really mentioned is how great thief pastries are. One of the best cannolis in toronto, as well as the pizelle and this dlourless brownie/cookie thing. King west isn't just a douchy party place anymore, there are legitimate food options along this stretch with Patria, Buca/Bar Buca, Lee, Portland Variety, Fourno Cultura and soon Pizza Libretto and Porchetta and Co
Katie / September 8, 2014 at 04:46 pm
I was just there last weekend - super amazing food, found lots of variety in choices and at great prices! The staff was very friendly and we felt genuinely welcomed. Even the desserts were just right to my palate. The place has a great vibe and definitely is a cool new place to check out in the King West neighbourhood. Will be returning.
Frances / November 14, 2014 at 11:10 pm
LOL. Of course; David with an "e" on the end! Looks like a fabulous place to enjoy!!!

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