Restaurant opens with Italian spirit


Photos of former NFL wide receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, Miss USA contestants and other icons hang in some of the many wall photo collages of new Italian restaurant Buca di Beppo.

Sharon Marshall, a retired elementary school teacher, said the atmosphere was “very chill” and gave the franchise restaurant a “thumbs up.”

While dining in Buca di Beppo, mob classics of the 1940s and ’50s play in the background, including artists such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

Torey Smith, owner of Wireless Expressions at Governor’s Square Mall, said Buca di Beppo reminded him of a tiny restaurant in Italy he visited when he was 16.

            Buca di Beppo offers a family-style dining experience, as most dishes are to be shared.

The average price to dine is about $14 per person.

Catering manager Thomas Herndon said the restaurant has new specials every two weeks. The next one will be the Thanksgiving special.

Buca di Beppo translates to “Joe’s Basement.” Joe, an immigrant from Italy, came to the United States and opened a restaurant in the basement of a Minneapolis apartment building so his family and friends could eat comfortably, said Herndon.

At Buca di Beppo, guests can experience different appetizers, pizzas, entrees, desserts, salads, soups, pastas, beer and wine. Signature dishes include spaghetti and meatballs and lasagna.

Patrons’ reviews of the restaurant’s food were mixed.

Stephanie Winters, a second-year psychology student at Florida State University, tasted Buca di Beppo’s ravioli and rated her meal an 8.5. She said she would “definitely return.”

Reginald “Bubba” Coar, of Macon, Ga., said the chicken Parmesan was overcooked and dry when he ate at the restaurant. He also said the sauce was clumpy.

Buca di Beppo opened in 1993 and has more than 86 locations nationwide, including Augusta, Ga., New York City and Champaign, Ill.

Tallahassee’s Buca di Beppo operates for lunch and dinner and seats up to 160 people. The restaurant opens daily at 11:30 a.m. with varying closing times. Everything on the main menu is also available to order online for carryout.

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