For those of you that read my blog posts, I’m sure by now you have seen me mention that I love finding good restaurants in south side #yeg! So, I think it’s time I blog about another discovery.
My latest find has been Buco Pizzeria + Vino Windermere. Buco isn’t new by any means – the first location actually opened in St. Albert. Their second location in Windermere, was where I first tried it (and basically decided that it was one of my favourite restaurants). More recently, Buco has opened another location in Epcor Tower, in the Ice District.
Although all Buco locations are probably great, my review is regarding the Windermere location in particular.
SIDE NOTE – this blog post will be a little longer since I’ve come a few times and tried multiple dishes. If you’re too lazy to read the full thing, just scroll to the bottom to find my final verdict!
Buco Pizzeria + Vino is owned by Sorrentino’s Restuarant Group (the same managing group for Sorrentino’s, Caffe Sorrentino, and Bistecca), and brand themselves as a Neapolitan pizzeria and wine bar. Alongside pizzas, they also offer an array of Italian entrees with pasta and grilled options. Antipasti and desserts are included too, of course. Their drink menu is also quite extensive, offering cocktails to wines, and everything in between.
Tucked away in the suburbs of Windermere, Buco Pizzeria + Vino is a beautiful space. It’s large, open, and contemporary. I’ve come here a couple of times now, and it’s fair to say that I was satisfied with my experience every time! During the day, I love that you are greeted with natural lighting throughout the whole restaurant – perfect for those Instagram photos. At night, the buzz and ambience of a lively dinner service are pretty inviting too. Service itself is always top notch as the servers are super friendly! Although service was a bit slow with a full house on one of my visits, the food is worth waiting for. To avoid long waits, a tip from the server was to come on a day that wasn’t Friday – their busiest day apparently.
Let’s get to the food.
For starters, the Assagini options are a good place to start. As a first timer at Buco, it was hard to decide on what to get! The Assagini are “little tasters” and allow you try a sample of various appetizers – options range from arancini balls to meatballs to bruschetta. A Small Assagini ($11) gives you 3 choices and a Large Assagini ($22) gives you a choice of 6. You can always add extra items for an additional cost as well.
My boyfriend and I sampled a small assagini and tried the arancini, beef short rib croquettes, and pancetta bruschetta. All starters gave us a very impressionable start to our meal! If you’re hoping to try more than one appetizer or share starters, I recommend trying the assagini platters as a way to try a little bit of everything.
On another occasion, we have also tried Buco’s version of a charcuterie board. The Carne + Formaggio (meat and cheese) boards come in a small ($19) and a large ($28) size. This, too, is a great starter for sharing and has quite a bit of food. As expected with a good charcuterie board, it came with fine Italian meats, cheese, crostini, olives, and other condiments. I have previously had a disappointing experience with charcuterie at another restaurant but was glad to have quality meats and cheeses at Buco. My favourite part of the charcuterie board was actually one of the condiments – the apple sauce/jam? It had actual apple pieces which I liked and the sweetness of it paired so well with everything on the board.
Buco’s Truffle Parmigiano Fries ($10) was also a hit for me. Topped with plenty of Parmigiano, you will definitely get a whiff of that strong cheese smell when it first comes out lol. The fries are thick-cut and crisp and served with a lemon truffle aioli dip, which was really tasty and balanced out the saltiness of the fries and sharp parmigiano taste. The fries were pretty addicting to snack on, and like all the other starters I’ve tried, it came in a large serving. During happy hour, the fries are only $5, a great price!
One of Buco’s specialities is pizza. Hoping to try something a bit different, I decided to go for a “bianca” – “without tomato sauce” pizza during my first visit. I have to admit that this pizza was my least favourite thing I’ve tried here. We got the Proscuitto ($18), which came with prosciutto, grape tomatoes, arugula, fior da latte, and shaved Parmigiano.
I knew it wasn’t going to have any tomato sauce, but I didn’t expect for it to taste like it literally had no sauce! It was quite dry and I felt like the pizza was just missing something. With no wet component, the pizza tasted overly salty from the prosciutto and wasn’t really meeting my pizza standards. Oddly enough, I enjoyed the leftover pizza later that night – the flavours really sunk in afterwards maybe?
On my next visit, I was determined to find a pizza I liked so I opted for a “rossa” – “with tomato sauce” pizza. The Sunny-Side-Up ($18) was topped with two eggs, pancetta bacon, potatoes, smoked caciocavallo, and fior da latte. It was much better than the Proscuttio, in my opinion! Eggs on a pizza wouldn’t be my go-to normally but it was pretty tasty and I really liked the pancetta bacon. My only complaint is that it felt like there were minimal toppings, not ‘fully loaded’ unfortunately.
My friend tried the Perperonata ($18), a tomato sauce pizza with peppers, olive, onion, sausage, and fior di latte. I didn’t try this one personally but my friend said it was good. It looked pretty satisfying!
Though the sunny-side-up was good, my favourite pizza so far would have to be the Carne ($21). It’s a meat-lovers dream and it’s also the most flavorful pizza I’ve had at Buco. The Carne is a tomato sauce pizza, topped with Italian sausage, short rib, pepperoni, bacon, smoked caciocavallo, and fior da latte. My boyfriend tried it as a calzone (any pizza can be turned into a calzone, btw) and it ended up being like a super-sized pizza pop! If you’re overwhelmed with all the pizza choices and don’t mind meat, I would recommend the Carne out of everything.
Notably, Buco offers a “Social Hour” from 2-5 PM and 9 PM – close. Alongside other deals, all pizzas are $12! I think it’s a real steal because the pizzas are huge. I particularly like the pizza dough because it’s the perfect combination of doughy and crunchy – just the way good Neapolitan style pizza should be. There are also pizzettas ($16 – 8″) available if you’re looking for something smaller.
Though there many pizza options, I personally prefer the pasta and grill options more. If you’re looking for a pasta dish – I’ve come to the conclusion that all the pasta options at Buco are pretty freakin’ good, so you can’t go wrong with any of them. Particular favourites for me (so far) are the mushroom ravioli and gnocchi!
The Mushroom Ravioli ($16) is tossed in herb butter and has strong a strong garlic flavour, so if you’re not a garlic fan, I wouldn’t recommend this one. I, however, love garlic and thought this dish was delicious! The roasted tomatoes were sweet and roasted to perfection, complimenting the savouriness of the butter and arugula. I really enjoyed the filling in the ravioli too. They also don’t skimp out on the Parmigiano, thank goodness.
If you’re looking for a carb-loaded dish, the House-Made Ricotta Gnocchi ($20) is sure to fill you up. It’s creamy, cheesy and super rich. The gnocchi is quite large but it was honestly one of the best gnocchi dishes I’ve had to date! I loved that the dish was topped with pine nuts and Brussel sprouts as well. I added bacon to get some sort of meat in the dish but I would opt for the dish as it is next time. The bacon was a tiny portion so it wasn’t really worth the additional cost and to be fair, I think the gnocchi tasted fine on its own.
I haven’t tried many of the grilled entrees but I’m not sure if I will ever want to try anything else because the Porchetta ($28) tops the list of “all-time favourite dishes”. The slow-roasted pork belly wrapped loin is soooo tender and packed with flavour. Am I the only one who is guilty of loving fatty pork belly? It’s probably not the healthiest dish but you gotta indulge sometimes! The potatoes and arugula salad that came with the dish were also just as tasty and made for a perfect side.
Lastly, dessert… I’ve only ever had the appetite to order dessert once. Our meals are always so filling! The Raspberry Ricotta Cake ($9) isn’t overly sweet and was a good dessert to balance out all the savoury flavours from our main dishes. However, it didn’t amaze me so I would likely pick another dessert my next visit…if I have room for dessert!
If you’ve read this far, I hope you’re itching to try Buco Pizzeria + Vino. Although the prices are a little on the higher side, I think the food is worth trying. If you aren’t looking to spend a little more, check them out during their Social Hours and try their food at a reduced cost – happy hour perks!
Buco Pizzeria + Vino Windermere is one of those restaurants that I would pick for multiple occasions – whether it be for a date night, a girl’s night, a family lunch/dinner, or a birthday, I think it’s a great pick – especially for those of us located in South Edmonton. The service is always friendly and the many food options haven’t disappointed, I will definitely be back, again! (A special shout out to my bf for never getting sick of going to the same place multiple times).
Overall, Buco Pizzeria + Vino Windermere is an excellent addition to the community. If you get a chance to check them out, whichever location it may be, I hope you enjoy your experience as much as I did. Congrats to the Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group on another successful restaurant and location!
Buco Pizzeria + Vino Windermere
1249 Windermere Way, Edmonton