I forgot what the occasion was, but A.ryo decided to treat me to La Buca, a small Italian restaurant in Arbutus Ridge, for our usual foodventure. A.ryo had previously made reservations, which was a good thing because they had no more than about 20 tables, with very little wiggle room between each table. It was reminiscent of La Quercia, space and style-wise, they even serve a Chef’s Course Menu as well in “Alla Famiglia” style, in which everything is meant to be shared. I even though it might have been the same owners that that point, it gave me high expectations for their food, but after doing some research prior to this post I found out that was not the case. Nonetheless, the food and service here were still exquisite.
A.ryo got there first, so his usual standard of procedure was to order a beer while waiting for me. Luckily I only arrived 5 or 10 minutes or so after the beer was ordered, we ordered a red wine to go with our meal soon after that. Lightly salted breadsticks were brought out while we were still deciding on food. When I say ‘lightly’ salted, I mean it in the sense that each stick only had a few specks of salt on it. It wasn’t anything special or memorable, I would have much preferred it have regular bread and butter or oil, or even slightly flavoured breadsticks instead.
Heirloom Tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, red onion, best olive oil
For appetizers we decided to share La Buca’s fancy version of the usual Caprese salad. The red onion must have been simmered in red wine, it had a distinct sweetness and was more tender and deep in colour than usual red onions. The tomatoes were nice and juicy, really enjoyed the different textures, colours, sizing and even flavours of all the different tomatoes. Not to mention that creamy buffalo mozzarella, this dish was perfectly and worth every penny thought I’m not too sure what their ‘best olive oil’ meant.
Spaghetti, genoa salami, spicy fresh chilies, San Marzano tomatoes, pecorino
A.ryo really wanted spaghetti, but their only offering was this for the night. He didn’t fret, and still ordered it, to his surprise it wasn’t just your typical tomato-based spaghetti. The ingredients were simple, but the final product was exceptionally refined. The pasta was cooked al dente, with a minor hint of spice from the chilies and genoa salami it perfectly balanced the mildly acidic San Marzano, further heightening its sweetness. The dish might look small, but it was the perfect amount, it left you craving for more yet still satisfied with the portion you received.
Crisp Roasted Cornish Hen, ragu of vegetables & gnocchi, chicken jus, olive oil, herbs
The skin of the Cornish Hen was perfectly seared off, rendering it very crispy like the name implied. It was super juicy and tender, but then again that comes from the fact that it is a Cornish Hen. It was not overly salty and had an abundance of vegetables, mainly being corn and peas. The gnocchi was a bit disappointing after having a bit of A.ryo’s spaghetti. They were soft and pillowy, don’t get me wrong, but it seemed to lack substance and flavour aside from the chicken jus that it was swimming in.
With caramelized figs and an ice cream of sorts, I did find the crust to be a bit hard and tough, but overall it was an excellent way to end off the meal.
Our server was very knowledgeable in the menu along with the wine, she was attentive and outstanding, making our dinner even more enjoyable. It is definitely on par with La Quercia, given some misses, but it definitely warrants another visit.