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Lucca: Buca di Sant'Antonio

Via della Cervia 1/3 , Phone: 058355881
Closing day: Sunday Evening and Monday

Reviewed by: mise from UK, review #2469

When: 2007

This well regarded restaurant lived up to its reputaion. Ambience, food and service were excellent.

Directions: Close to Piazza San Michele

The three of us were welcomed warmly and shown to to our table in a pleasant atmospheric room with lots of copper pots hanging from the ceiling. We were served with complimentary glasses of very nice sparkling wine and a plate of savoury bites while we waited for our first course to arrive.

We wanted to try a local wine and the very helpful sommelier suggested a Montecarlo white wine which was excellent and cost €14. The wine list is extensive and comprehensive but no effort was made to try to sell us the most expensive wine on the list.

The food was first class. Among the dishes tried were tortellini Lucchesi with a rabbit ragú, prosciutto con melone, ricotta and asparagus tart, and roast guinea fowl. Service was relaxed but efficient and the atmoshphere was welcoming and cosy.

The cost per person for two courses and wine was about €30. Despite being more expensive than many other trattorie in Lucca we considered it to be worth it and very good value for money.

Reviewed by: Carol M from CA, review #1402

When: 2005

Excellent food and service.

Directions: Just off the Piazza S. Michele in Foro

My daughter-in-law (expecting) and I treated ourselves to a wonderful Mother's Day lunch here while in Lucca. Service and meal excellent. Expensive but not stuffy. No one should pass up the opportunity to try their Green Apple Sorbet for dessert!

Reviewed by: Jean from MI, review #800

When: 2004

Excellent service and best food of our trip!

For some reason, I was reluctant to make a reservation at Buca di Sant'Antonio for our one dinner in Lucca. After reading all the reviews in guidebooks and on-line, I was under the impression that this would be a stuffy kind of place that caters to only tourists. So when we couldn't make a reservation in our first choice, we booked one here. And I'm so glad we did. We had a wonderful dinner here, and the staff was friendly and fun. The lamb and veal were the prepared perfectly. Great restaurant!

Reviewed by: Jane from CA, review #508

When: 2003

We had a very good meal here. A great atmosphere and ambience. Professional, good wait staff. High recommendation.

This is clearly a restaurant appealing to both tourists and locals. Excellent menu, well-prepared Tuscan dishes and culinary treats. I had goat -- outstanding. It has been a restaurant for a couple hundred years. I would classify it as on the high-end of moderate in terms of price. It is not in the expensive category -- at least, compared with other meals we had in Lucca. Do not believe that anyone would be disappointed at this restaurant.

Reviewed by: Doru from Canada, review #11

When: 2002

Food divine, service could be better. Ah, but the food...

Upon arrival, we were led to a salon downstairs. Nobody seemed to worry or ask whether we have a reservation or not (we did have a reservation, made the day before). On the way down we noted upstairs another salon, from where happy voices sounded. I will pay more attention on the way out and notice a big sign "Salon de pranzo" above a rather large door, and tables full of people, families, simpler tablecloth, bright light, etc.

Downstairs, we had a nice table, in a line of about 6 or 7 tables. The greeting and the query on what we would like augured a good meal ahead. Unfortunately, once we ordered, things got a bit precipitated and we were somewhat rushed through the first part of the meal, for no apparent reason, because they wouldn't have been able to turn the table over that afternoon again. As well, we were attended by two different waiters, one of them possibly an apprentice or helper and it is quite possible things got mixed up between the two and the kitchen.

Another sign of indifferent service became evident later, when the Vinsanto was served at our table without biscotti or cantucci. At a table next to us were sitting two Californian (we will find out later) women, one of whom, it seems, is involved in the hosting industry and with the Gourmet magazine. We developed with them a lively conversation across the short distance between our tables and I couldn't help but notice that they were served with more leisure and, in due course, were presented with the Vinsanto together with a nice jar of cantucci and other nibbles. Since the restaurant had no reason to treat us differently, I would lower significantly my evaluation of Buca, if not for something else but for uneven service level.

But then the food made us forgive the service! It was from excellent and higher. We started with carpaccio di trota salmonata su rughette, beautiful thin slices of marinated trout over rocket salad, and with risotto ai fungi porcini, respectively. The trout was absolutely sensational, the risotto al dente and as good as one could ask. Josette followed with filetto di S. Pietro all'isolana with potatoes, fresh tomatoes and basil, and I ordered bacala al carbone con ceci, both excellent.

Finally, while Josette indulged with a mouth-watering fresh pineapple with maraschino, I splurged with frutta caramellata al forno (apple, grapes, orange, ananas, all caramelised to almost crisp) e gelato di cannella, wonderful combination and one of the best desserts I have ever-ever-ever had. If I weren’t embarrassed, I would have asked for a piece of bread, to clean the sauce off the plate. I convinced our Californian table neighbours to order the sensational frutta caramellata desert and adequate confirmation of the suggestion came through their exclamations of appreciation.

With a half bottle of Ca' del Vispo 2001 Vernacia di San Gimignano, coffees, Vinsanto (but no cantucci!), cover and service, and no charge for water, the bill for two for this excellent meal added up to 72.50 Euro, all worth it. We added a nice tip, but that was for the joy of the food rather than for the service in the dining room. The chef surely deserved it!

Reviewed by: Karen from PA, review #142

When: 2000

Although I cannot heartily recommend this place I would suggest it for dinner rather than lunch.

Some of us liked it more than others, but the atmosphere does seem more evening. The polenta with porcini was dry, the fried lamb cutlets and porcini were, well, fried and way too long. Rabbit stew with porcini were acceptable and the carpaccio with lemon and arugula was enjoyed. Even now, looking at the menu - I'd pass.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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