Pau Hana Patrol: Buca di Beppo

Feb. 26, 2015 | 0 Comments In the Star-Advertiser Friday Print Edition
On the happy hour menu at Buca di Beppo is a flatbread-style pizza, $4; mozzarella caprese, $4; and a trio of mini meatball sliders, $5. (Christie Wilson / cwilson@staradvertiser.com)

On the happy hour menu at Buca di Beppo is a flatbread-style pizza, $4; mozzarella caprese, $4; and a trio of mini meatball sliders, $5. (Christie Wilson / cwilson@staradvertiser.com)

BY CHRISTIE WILSON / cwilson@staradvertiser.com

“It is what it is” is an oft-maligned phrase used to describe something that should be taken at face value. Something that lacks deeper meaning or significance.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s absolutely on-the-nose when trying to describe Buca di Beppo at Ward Entertainment Complex.

BUCA DI BEPPO

1030 Auahi St.

(808) 591-0800

Happy Hour:
3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
» Mini fried mozzarella, pepperoni pizza, mozzarella caprese, $4
» Mini meatballs, mini meatball sliders, fried calamari, $5
» Draft beer: Bud Light, $3, Peroni, $4
» House wine: $3 glass, $5 quartino
» Spirits: $4 well, $5 call, $6 premium

What “it is” is a reliable chain restaurant that does what it does very well and will leave you happy and satisfied, if not transported. Plus, it’s fun saying the name, hand gesture optional.

THE EXPERIENCE

Entering the bar at Buca di Beppo is like stepping into your Italian grandma’s parlor, if your Italian grandma was an extra in “The Godfather.” The place is furnished in rich red and dark wood tones, with Oriental-style carpeting, warm lighting and checkered tablecloths.

The walls are covered with old-timey photos of family life, street scenes and Sophia Loren, Joe DiMaggio and other notable Italians. Tucked between the photos are bowling trophies, soccer memorabilia and other purposely placed clutter.

Stay for any length of time and you will surely hear Dean Martin crooning “That’s Amore” on the piped-in music. If you’re here, you’ve already agreed to play along, so it’s all very charming and cozy.

The back-lit bar runs the length of the room, and two TVs allow for sports watching.

Happy hour deals are offered throughout the lounge, whether you sit at the bar, at a high cocktail table or in a booth.

The booths comfortably seat eight, which makes Buca appealing to large groups of friends or extended family.

Another bonus: You can bring your kids to happy hour.

The staff is well-trained, friendly and efficient. You won’t have any trouble getting out in time for your movie at the multiplex upstairs.

Buca Di Beppo’s interior is furnished in red and dark wood tones, and family-friendly booths. (Christie Wilson / cwilson@staradvertiser.com)

Buca Di Beppo’s interior is furnished in red and dark wood tones, and family-friendly booths. (Christie Wilson / cwilson@staradvertiser.com)

THE DRINKS

Happy hour specials are limited, but cover all the basics: beer, wine and straightforward cocktails.

Offered on tap are 14-ounce glasses of Bud Light ($3) and Peroni ($4), a refreshing Italian pale lager. Buca’s Tuscan house wines — pinot grigio and red — are $3 a glass.

A nice “in between” option for when you want just a little bit more wine but not a full or half-bottle, is the $5 quartino, a minicarafe that holds about 9 ounces, or roughly a glass and a half of wine.

THE FOOD

Buca di Beppo is known for its regular menu entrees served “family style,” meaning large portions for sharing. The plates on the “3 to 6” happy hour menu are nowhere near as generous, but make an adequate nosh for two.

There are only six selections, all but one featuring a pleasing, garlicky marinara sauce.

The one is a flatbread-style pepperoni pizza that was better than expected. Using provolone along with mozzarella added a slight smoky undertone, and the crust was exactly how I like it: thin and slightly chewy, but not doughy. Six slices makes this a meal for one — for only $4.

The mozzarella caprese ($4) offers two thick slices of fresh mozzarella atop fresh tomato and basil leaves, drenched in basil-infused olive oil. A savory trio of mini meatball sliders ($5) is served with supersoft sweet rolls.

The food does exactly what bar food in a place like this is supposed to do: be tasty and fill your tummy at a great price.

THE VERDICT

It is what it is. And in the case of Buca di Beppo, that’s enough, thank you.

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