Bugigattolo means hole in the wall. It's an appropriate name for this one room Italian restaurant in Liberty Village.
Formerly Uma Cafe , the 18-seat restaurant is still doing espresso-based drinks at the bar upfront while chef Quin Josey (formerly Bar Buca ) runs the open kitchen by himself from behind a marble counter.
The dining room is drafty but the place still radiates warmth. The decor embraces the naturally distressed, industrial aesthetic of the building with walls adorned with vintage photos and sleek marble tables set with elegant long stem wine glasses.
Dinner with wine and Italian cocktails like the classic Aperol Spritz ($11.95) are served late in the week. Otherwise the restaurant aims to attract locals in need of breakfast and lunch breaks throughout the workday.
Uova affogato ($8.95) is offered among daytime selections like the daily frittata and the PLT (that's prosciutto, lettuce, tomato). This open faced sandwich starts with a thick slab of ciabatta that's smeared with ricotta and nduja before being toasted and topped with a poached egg and fresh basil. It's so simple, but delicious.
The Pappa alla Pomodoro ($7.95) is a Northern Italian dish Josey recalls his grandmother serving him for lunch as a child. Essentially it's tomato soup with a semolina couscous and reggiano on top.
This one also seems deceivingly simple, though the work of canning 300 jars of tomatoes happened weeks ago when they were in their prime, and the resulting sweet and pure flavours are now evident.
Insalata di radicchio ($8.95) is no more than a plate of shredded purple leaves dressed with white vinegar, pepperoncini and parmesan reggiano. I like the bitter taste of radicchio but here it's a little overpowering. A quick char would have toned it down, a drizzle of honey might have balanced it out, but as is, it's a little one note.
Thankfully the rich, creamy lasagne alla zucchini ($12.95) arrives to the table at the same time and serves as welcome counterpoint. This white lasagna is lovely. Layers of house-made pasta alternate with zucchini smothered with bechamel and finished with mozzarella and reggiano.
Come summer there will be seating outside for 25 on the back patio; for now take-away is also an option.
Photos by Jesse Milns