We have had several really good meals at the Buca di Beppo in Cherry Hill. One of our favorite memories there was sitting at the Pope’s table as we celebrated Brighid’s Confirmation two years ago.
A couple of things have changed since that meal. They’ve replaced the dearly departed Pope John Paul at the Pope’s table with our current religious leader, Pope Benedict. But the big thing is they have added single portion meals to the menu. If you have never eaten at a Buca, previously, the menu items were ordered as a small or a large. The small size fed 2 – 4 people, and the large fed 4 or more people. You ordered everything this way – salads, soups, pastas, entrees, desserts – and then ate family style. You still have the option to order that way, but now, if you go in as a party of one or if you go with a picky eater (or Brighid), you have the option to order a platter for just one person.
I was nervous. I haven’t eaten here since my weight loss surgery, and pasta is not my friend. I thought it would be difficult for me to find anything to eat here. Recently, I’ve added salads into my food repertoire, and I was delighted to find a mixed green salad, chopped pretty finely, and topped with creamy crumbles of gorgonzola cheese and crunchy bits of prosciutto. It was fairly lightly dressed with vinegar and olive oil, and tasted really good. Eilis wanted something with mussels, and since Jim deferred to me in the ordering process, I ordered a small linguine fruitti de mar and a new to Buca dish of shrimp and scallops over orzo pasta. I knew I couldn’t eat the linguine, but I could at least try the orzo. We also ordered a garlic bread with mozzarella cheese, and Brighid ordered a single serving of Caesar salad.
The platter of linguine came out with a light coating of tomato sauce, topped with rings of calamari, mussels, clams and shrimp. I took a couple of the rings of calamari, and they were cooked perfectly – not chewy in the least! The shrimp and scallops with orzo pasta was delicious, but spicy without warning. The grilled shrimp and scallops were lightly seasoned and flavorful on their own. The orzo pasta, tossed with bright green peas and butter, had quite a kick to it. I saw very few red pepper flakes, so I’m not sure where all the heat came from, but the creamy butter sauce took a little of the bite out of it and made this an enjoyable and unexpected dish.
The dessert menu is full of delicious options, but we were too full to order anything. As it was, we were coming home with half of the mixed green salad, half of the linguine, and a good bit of the orzo pasta dish – as well as half of the garlic bread.
This is a fun restaurant to go to, check out the pictures and statues and tschokes. It’s a total bonus that they serve a good family meal besides.