Buca provides breath of local dining fresh air

With the scent of freshly baked garlic bread filling the air on the Foothill Blvd. and Indian Hill intersection, it is clear that an Italian restaurant is nearby. The newly opened Claremont establishment, Buca di Beppo adorns its walls with 1950s yearbook pictures and moviestar snapshots. Romantic tunes with such lyrics as "... When the moon hits the sky like a big pizza pie, that's amore," set the atmosphere for a night of fun. Prices range from $7 to $22 per person for a complete meal. / photo by Isela Peña
With the scent of freshly baked garlic bread filling the air on the Foothill Blvd. and Indian Hill intersection, it is clear that an Italian restaurant is nearby. The newly opened Claremont establishment, Buca di Beppo adorns its walls with 1950s yearbook pictures and moviestar snapshots. Romantic tunes with such lyrics as “… When the moon hits the sky like a big pizza pie, that’s amore,” set the atmosphere for a night of fun. Prices range from $7 to $22 per person for a complete meal. / photo by Isela Peña

by Simon W. Bouie
Arts & Entertainment Editor

OK guys, in the ever-difficult world of trying to impress one’s significant other, it is often hard to find a good restaurant in this area.

Let’s be real, one does not see any Wolfgang Puck’s Spago East or The Polo Lounge La Verne in the Inland Empire.

So it is hard to try to find a breath of fresh air when it comes to eating locally. Well, such a wind recently blew in and opened a new restaurant in the city of Claremont.

Buca di Beppo is a new Italian restaurant that prides itself on good food, good service and great ambiance. The dining experience begins with a tour through the kitchen. This allows the patron to see where all of the culinary magic takes place.

A neat feature about the kitchen is one’s ability to dine in it. Yes, there is a table smack dab in the middle of the kitchen where people can watch their meal be made. An added benefit to this table is the ability to see that the cook does not take any potential vengeance out on someone’s meal.

There are several theme rooms in the facility. This reporter was seated in the wine room that has a ceiling that is composed of, you guessed it, bottles of wine. Among the other rooms with unusual flair, there is a Popes Table that has Romanesque columns; a Cardinal’s Room that has two big red booths and a table that seats up to 10 people; there is also a poster room that has posters and pictures on the ceiling.

Once arriving at the table, patrons should not expect a menu. All menus are painted on the walls of each room. The menu is what is most worthy of talking about at this restaurant. All of the portions are massive.

Entrées serve between two and five people, depending on what else is ordered. A party of four would be well suited to start with an appetizer that would be something from the antipasti, insalate or neapolitan pizza menus. The mussels marinara is recommended.

Next, it would not be a bad thing to order a pasta dish, try the ravioli al pomodoro. In selecting a main course entrée, keep in mind that one probably will not have to buy lunch the next day because of the leftovers.

However, the chicken cacciatore with garlic mashed potatoes is just ridiculous. Not in a bad way, it is just ridiculous because it is so good.

If by the time one has finished eating and by some miracle of miracles they have room for dessert, the bread pudding caramello or the tiramisu are both excellent (even if the latter did have a bit too much rum).

Once the eating has commenced, one will not instantly forget the pleasure of their meal because of sticker shock after receiving the bill. Four people could eat the above described meal for around $60 (before tip).

Now keep in mind that price is sans any alcohol, so if you feel the need to “get your drank on,” expect to pay more.

As Commencement nears and the quest to find a place for family and friends to relax, eat and shower new graduates with gifts (hint, hint), Buca di Beppo is worth considering.

Like any good restaurant, they take reservations at (909) 399-3287. Buca is located at 505 West Foothill Blvd. in the same parking lot as the Claremont Inn. Other locations are in Encino, Pasadena and Redondo Beach.

So remember, when trying to find a place with good eats, smiling service and pounds of charm (for crying out loud, it’s the only local restaurant that plays Dean Martin), keep in mind Buca di Beppo. Just do not ruin the experience and destroy credibility by trying to order exclusively pizza. Or worse yet, by asking for the American menu because you must have a burger or something like meatloaf… and now!

Simon W. Bouie
Isela Peña

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