Bar Buca ~ 75 Portland St ~ (416) 599-2822

Bar Buca needs little introduction.  It’s Chef Rob Gentile’s rendition of a snack bar, so you know it’s going to be good.  Located a block south of his mothership, this Italian-industrial 40-seater is just about the best place you can have lunch on the westside of downtown… especially if you’re expensing it.  The Toronto Food Blog visited again recently and was lucky enough to grab a seat under the big umbrella on the patio.

We start things off with a piatti freddi.  There are a number of delicious-sounding options that jump right off the menu.  After much debate, we come to a sound conclusion… they’re known for their Burrata, so we order their Burrata.  Served with charred toast, this buffalo mozzarella is stuffed to the brim with pesto and gremolata.  Tied-up in a neat anchovy/alici bow and finished with a perfect dousing of EVOO & accouterments, this cold plate tastes as good as it looks.

The sharing plates continue with a middle course from the fritti menu.  Smelts come flash fried and taste crispy without a hint of oil.  Zucchini chips are well-textured, crunchy then creamy, finished with a zing of lemon & dill zabaglione.

We’d be remiss if we frequented an Italian resto without dabbling into the hot plate.  Bar Buca’s spuntini menu is simply outstanding.  I resist the urge to order one of everything, deciding instead to step out of my comfort zone to finish off the meal.  A bit of backstory here… I have a tough time ordering gnocchi at a restaurant because, well, it never tastes like what I was expecting.  I will now have a tough time ordering gnocchi at a restaurant moving forward because, well, it’ll surely never taste quite like Bar Buca’s.  Perfection on a plate.

Bar Buca is open from the wee hours of the morning, serving-up delicious coffee drinks and fresh-baked sweets to those heading to work.  Need a grab-and-go sandwich?  They’ve got you covered there, too.  How about late-night drinks?  This place really checks all the boxes.  Godere!


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