Italian restaurant Bucci
195 Balham High Road
London SW12 9BE
We went to Bucci with the intention of eating pizza. However, it turned out that they only fire up the wood fire for pizza in the evenings – we went at lunch time, so were out of luck (or so it seemed).
With pizza unavailable, we took instead the set menu, which was priced at £9.95 for two courses or £13.50 for three. For this modest sum, we could choose for the starters between soup of the day (in this case, minestrone), a Norwegian prawn coktail, timbale of aubergines and mozarella in a tomato sauce with drops of pesto, and calamari rings sautéed in chilli garlic and olive oil and garnished with continental parsley. For main courses, there was a choice between baked meat cannelloni in a tomato and béchamel sauce, risotto with mixed finely chopped vegetables finished with a drop of pesto sauce, pan fried piccata of chicken in white wine and lemon sauce, or grilled skewers of prawns on a bed of aromatized bread crumbs finished with a delicate parsley sauce. For dessert, the choice was between caffé cream, chocolate trilogy cake and fresh fruit salad.
We chose the calamari and the aubergines as starters, the cannelloni and chicken as mains, and caffé cream and chocolate trilogy cake as dessert.
The two starters
The timbale of aubergines
The timbale of aubergines and mozarella in a tomato sauce with drops of pesto was excellent. It arrived piping hot (seriously very hot) and with it we were offered pepper and parmesan cheese. We passed on the pepper, but accepted the parmesan – with which the waitress was not stingy! Really a very enjoyable dish, which I’d certainly take again.
The calamari rings were quite good with a delicate olive oil taste and a hint of chilli and garlic. It was certainly not a spicy (hot) dish but a well balanced meal. The calamari were fortunately not chewy.
The two main courses
The pan fried piccata of chicken
The pan fried piccata of chicken in white wine and lemon sauce was also extremely good. It was 4 mini chicken breasts on a bed of salad. I didn’t notice any sauce, but the chicken had clearly been pan fried in something as it had an excellent flavour to the lightly singed outside. It was nicely crispy on the outside, tender inside, and not a bit dry.
Baked meat cannelloni in a tomato and béchamel sauce
The baked meat cannelloni in a tomato and béchamel sauce was overall pretty good, served hot with a nice creamy tomato and béchamel sauce. The meat was a little bland, it could have been seasoned more.
Chocolate trilogy cake
The chocolate trilogy cake was not bad. I don’t think this was commercially supplied (as is often the case with Italian restaurants). The top layer was marscapone, beneath which was layered chocolate and vanilla cake. All served with a chocolate sauce and a dusting of cocoa. It was pleasantly moist, and not over sweet.
The caffé cream was better though. It was a dense cream flavoured with coffee. This is the sort of dessert that has the potential to be a bit heavy, but in this case it was mixed with some sort of suet, which just set it off nicely. A good end to a very good meal.
We finished with a couple of espressos, which were very good. Nice and thick and strong, not too bitter and not at all burnt.
Cost and conclusion: it was about £35 service charge not included and not automatically added to the bill. We like restaurants like Bucci who respect customers right to decide on any tip. Good and well priced food, and a very friendly service. We will be back!