I am one lucky lady. In the past few weeks, I’ve won three $25 gift certificates to locally owned restaurants from Cleveland Independents. Two Fridays ago, we took my great friend Mary out for a congratulations dinner. After a LONG search and FAR TOO MANY “informational interviews”, she was offered a full-time job at a very well known Cleveland arts institution! I am so happy for my girl!!! It was time to celebrate, so we hit up Bucci’s Brick Oven in Middleburg Heights for a low-key evening to be followed by a redbox rental.
From their website: When guests come to the Brick Oven, we want them to feel like they are entering our home, becoming our friends, and sharing in our family traditions. We are so proud of our recipes, passed down from generation to generation. This Bucci Family restaurant has a wood burning brick oven that lends an old-world authenticity to our Italian cuisine. We keep our atmosphere warm and cozy, our portions hearty, and our staff friendly. We invite you to join us in celebrating life, family, and friends, and to share in our traditions or make some of your own.
Our menu features pasta, pizza, steaks, fresh seafood, sandwiches, and much more.
When we walked into Bucci’s Brick Oven that Friday evening, the joint was jumping. I immediately anticipated having to wait for a table. Luckily for my hungry belly, we were seated immediately at a table in the back of the restaurant near the kitchen.
Bucci’s was definitely a “family friendly” establishment, as in it’s the place where the family works together and the family dines together. The tables around us were filled with large parties, tables of six or more. You could see generations of family members serving patrons, bussing tables and running the register. I definitely enjoyed knowing I was supporting such a business. Our server was a lovely young woman who was able to answer all of our questions, kept our glasses full and table clean.
That being said, I decided against taking photos at dinner that night. For some reason, busting out my Nikon at a fine dining establishment is normal in my book, but I thought I might get some strange reactions in this environment. Bucci’s was almost too laid back for my usual formalized process – however, that is not a bad thing.
To start, the server brought out a basket of rolls for the table, along with Drew’s cup of Manhattan Clam Chowder, and side salads for Hans and myself. I didn’t taste Drew’s soup, but I could smell the tomato from across the table. He said it was tasty and slowly consumed the whole cup with some crackers.
The side salads were your standard fare of iceberg lettuce, tomato, cucumber, cheese and croutons. I ordered mine with their house Italian dressing on the side, which I enjoyed tremendously.
As it was a Friday night in Lent, Hans ordered the perch special with fries. At $16.95, I’m not sure if it was worth quite that much, but the serving portion of the entrée was large. Hans enjoyed the fries more than the perch, but admitted to remembering later that perch wasn’t his favorite. He’s more of a walleye kind of guy. Regardless, he ate almost every bite and was content.
I ordered the Roasted Vegetable Panini Sandwich. Uber excited to see the words “roasted vegetable”, I asked my server to go “light on the cheese”. The cook must have looked at her order slip and thought she meant “hold the cheese”. I was served a cheese-less panini. To tell you the truth, I didn’t miss it because I was distracted by the FRIED EGGPLANT on the sandwich. I didn’t want to make a fuss about the “incorrect” description on the menu, but in between two perfectly grilled pieces of bread were some roasted red & green peppers, roasted onions and that previously mentioned FRIED eggplant. So while I was a bit annoyed, I forgot how good fried eggplant tastes, especially sandwiched between two pieces of tasty carbs. The sandwich itself was pretty big, so I ate one side of the sandwich in its entirely, then ate the “insides” of the second half, attempting to navigate around the FRIED breaded pieces. Yes, I’m being picky. Yes, it was delicious. Yes, I would order it again.
Mary ordered the Turkey & Bacon Panini with a side of french fries. She was presented with a LARGE plate of a fairly large panini & a hearty portion of fries. I should have snagged a few of those fries because they appeared to have an excellent crispy outside. Mary enjoyed half of her sandwich and took the second half home. Unfortunately for Mary, she left her leftovers in my fridge. Fortunately for Hans, he had lunch the following day! The panini reheated well after a 30 second trip in the microwave. I was impressed that the bread held its structure after the reheat. Hans enjoyed his next day meal as much as Mary enjoyed it the night before.
With his cup of Manhattan Clam Chowder, Drew ordered the Spaghetti with Meatballs. He was presented with one of the largest bowls of spaghetti I’ve ever seen. The accompanying meatballs were just as impressive. (Yes, you can snicker at the use of “meatballs” and “impressive” in the same sentence. Moving on…) While Drew regaled us with plot lines of the sitcom his buddies and him have been developing, he slowly worked his way through the entire bowl of pasta goodness. I was actually impressed that my bro finished the entire bowl! Considering he ate every bite, I’m pretty sure he liked his meal selection.
LONG STORY SHORT: Overall, our Friday night at Bucci’s Brick Oven was quite enjoyable. While I felt like it was a bit overpriced for a traditional Italian-style family-owned restaurant, it pleased me to know that we received a nice meal with huge portions from a staff of pleasant people who truly seemed to enjoy working that evening. I hope to return soon to try their pizzas and to get that “warm and fuzzy” family feeling all over again. Thanks again to Cleveland Independents for running such great Facebook giveaways!