If You Can't Stand the Heat…

Buca di Beppo

Fried calamari wasn't inferior in quality, but some of the rings were tough and chewy. The marinara sauce that accompanied the dish had also been sprinkled with crushed red pepper, a distracting element only if you liked the tinny flavor of the chunky tomato sauce. The same tomato sauce napped spaghetti and meatballs, an enormous platter that had my table, on one occasion, singing, "On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese…." Too bad the meatball about which we were yodeling was tough going: hard, dense, and shot through with gristle.

If you're looking for appetizers, stick with obvious ones. Garlic bread, served in a baking dish, was crusty focaccia liberally dosed with slices of the fragrant cloves, and a caesar salad, though it lacked croutons, featured fresh romaine in a well-balanced dressing. Then follow those up with meat-stuffed tortelloni garnished with mushrooms, tomatoes, peas, and broccoli florets, all doused in a cream sauce that needed only a little salt or grated cheese to enliven it. For a main course, stick with chicken. We found a special of tender, pan-fried breasts topped with a tricolor bell pepper sauce more satisfying than other meat dishes, such as veal limone. The veal's lemon sauce, rife with white beans and chopped escarole, was tasty. But though the meat had been pounded like laundry against a river rock, it was still rubbery.

And don't expect miracles for dessert, even if you're sitting at the Pope's Table. Ricotta-stuffed cannoli would have been good had they not been nestled into an all-encompassing mattress of hot fudge; on the flip side, spumoni would have been even more boring without the chocolate sauce. Cheesecake with raspberry sauce was like a little boy peeing -- it started well but petered out in the end when the crushed hazelnuts that topped it yielded shell fragments.

Someone's in the kitchen with Beppo, because  every diner is given a tour
Sherri Cohen
Someone's in the kitchen with Beppo, because every diner is given a tour

Location Info

Map

Buca Di Beppo

5975 N. Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Beaches

Details

Dinner Monday through Thursday from 5 till 10 p.m.; Friday till 11 p.m. Dinner Saturday from 4 till 11 p.m. Lunch and dinner Sunday from noon till 9 p.m.
5975 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, 954-229-0922.

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I've worked in too many kitchens to want to dine in one -- even this one, which is, for obvious reasons, clean and orderly as restaurant kitchens go. To satisfy a craving for basic southern Italian cuisine, I could just as easily put together a meal from Ronzoni and Classico. I also tend to value my sense of hearing. But for all its flaws, Buca di Beppo is undeniably fun. And for those who don't demand more from dinner, the basement is the perfect place to eat it.

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markie19
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