We wanted to take the boys out to dinner for their birthday, and were having a tough time coming up with a place to go. We usually alternate between Mediterranean food and sushi when we're going out to dinner, so we thought it might be nice to try something different. Casey mentioned an Italian place she and Seth had been to in Palo Alto that was kind of fun...everything was family style, and there was stuff all over the walls. I immediately knew she was talking about Buca di Beppo.
If you're not familiar with Buca di Beppo, it's kind of like Chili's but with Italian food. Well, okay, maybe I'm not giving them enough credit. It's a chain restaurant serving up family sized portions of classic Italian food on tables with red checked tablecloths and all sorts of memorabilia on the walls. So kind of like Chili's, but the food it Italian, and there are tablecloths.
That description is based on my one visit there about 8 years ago, which I actually try to forget. It was a second date with someone who was very nice, but just a bit too intense for me. I was planning on telling him that things weren't working out for me at the end of our date, so I probably wasn't in a great mindset to begin with. Waiting close to an hour for our table (it was a Saturday night) didn't help. Then, after we had eaten (I couldn't tell you what we ordered to save my life), he asked me how I thought things were going? What did I think about our relationship? I was stunned, and unprepared to say the least. We still had plans to go to a movie. Why was he asking me this NOW? This was definitely a conversation topic suited more for the END of a date. NOT THE MIDDLE. As much as I didn't want to, I told him the truth, which naturally made the rest of the evening awkward. Heck, the walk to the car was so uncomfortable, I told him I was too tired to go see a movie and asked him to take me home. This is how I remember Buca di Beppo.
However, It had been nearly a decade. I was willing to give it another chance.
We went on a Wednesday night, so the wait for a table was reasonable. The Palo Alto location does have the funkiest layout for a restaurant I've ever seen. You walk through part of the kitchen to get to the podium where the hostess is. So If you have to wait, you're basically standing in the way of the wait staff and some of the chefs. Thankfully, there's also a small bar area to sit in while you're waiting.
We ordered standard Italian fare: bruschetta, eggplant parmesan, and some spaghetti with meat sauce. I had thought that we'd need to order the large family size for everything to make sure we had enough food, but we ordered small, which turned out to be the exact right amount. Casey told our waitress that it was the boys' birthday, so we were expecting to be bombarded with wait staff singing and holding a candelabra. However, it was the end of the night, and things were winding down, so when our tiramisu was brought to the table, out waitress had simply put some tall candles in it, and told us we probably didn't want to hear her sing. I think the boys were relieved.
So, yeah. Buca di Beppo? Not as bas as I remembered. The food was actually pretty decent. And knowing what size plates to order on the menu actually made this an "easy on the pocketbook" birthday dinner. Also, I'm totally thrilled to have a much better memory to associate with the restaurant. Hopefully it won't be another 8 years before I go back.