Restaurant Review: Buco Pizzeria + Vino, St. Albert

Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group has added to their portfolio with Buco, a pizzeria and wine bar in St. Albert’s Shops at Boudreau.  Buco’s space is modern and on trend with industrial touches of stainless steel and metal with wood and white tile giving it a dash of chic.

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The menu centres around pizza fired in an 800° wood-burning oven but also offers small plates called assaggini, a handful of entrées, and pasta, of course. The vibe is lively, hip and inviting.

IMG_6887 (1)The extensive, well-priced wine list features all Italian wines. There is a handful of interesting cocktails, and the beer is impressive with the ever-popular Peroni plus craft beers from Marche and Tuscany, but then gets muddled with the unnecessary additions of Budweiser and Corona.

We started with some small bites from the assaggini section. Every dish from this section costs $4.00. For the one piece of bruschetta, that seems steep. The pancetta bruschetta had the right elements, though: a good balance of salt and garlic, noticeable basil, ripe tomatoes, olive oil and a thin crispy slice of pancetta. The short rib croquettes contain shredded beef, gorgonzola cheese and béchamel sauce—texture-wise, great and lovely ingredients, but the gorgonzola got lost in the mix; the spiedino (steak bites on skewers) came to the table luke warm and despite the salsa verde on top and the alleged garlic and sea salt, lacked in flavour.

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The pizza is Neapolitan style (thin crust) and offered two ways: rossa (red sauce) or bianca (no sauce). You can select from 16 set pizzas on the menu, or choose your own ingredients. The sunny side up from the rossa list is topped with a free range egg, pancetta, smoked caciocavello, fior di latte and pomodoro sauce. Great crust and good flavour here; the only complaint was that the egg was overcooked—not sure how you’re going to get around that in an 800° oven.

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Sunny side up pizza, $18

The lasagna is a hefty portion of spinach pasta, bolognese meat sauce, San Marzano tomatoes, béchamel, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. The price is high at $20 but chances are, you’ll be taking half of it home for leftovers.

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Lasagna $20

The grigliata mista is a platter of meat served with potatoes, arugula and your choice of spicy sriracha pesto, salsa verde or aioli. The chicken breast with wing was, thankfully, moist and had good flavour; the spicy sausage, too, was juicy but Buco’s take on porchetta fell flat exhibiting none of the attributes of a  traditional porchetta made with pork belly or a butterflied, herb-stuffed pork loin, instead prepared as a bacon-wrapped pork loin.  The potatoes were perfect: crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and with that aioli? Splendido.

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Grigilata mista, $32

There are five desserts on offer, all at $9.00. The citrus vanilla panna cotta is large enough for two people to share. The panna cotta was wonderfully creamy, helped out by the sizeable dollop of mascarpone on top. The strawberry fruit appeared to be that of the frozen, canned variety—surprising, but weirdly, it worked.

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Although a few dishes could use some work, the overall experience was a favourable one. If you plan your visit based on the ongoing specials, you can save a lot of coin. Mondays are BYOW (bring your own wine) nights with no corkage fees; Tuesday sees 20-ounce tap beer for $6.00; Wednesdays have 2-ounce cocktails for $5.00; Thursdays has a 6-ounce feature wine for $6.00, and Sundays has an all day 2-ounce Prosecco/Campari Spritz for $5.00. You can grab some cheaper assaggini and pizza at certain times of day, as well (see below).

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The audio link to my review of Buco can be found in CBC Edmonton AM’s web article here.