Monday, June 2, 2014

Buca di Beppo - Arena District

Buca di Beppo is an eclectic Italian restaurant that focuses on family-style served meals. Serving extra large portions makes this a great option for large groups, which is what we had the evening of Kenneth's Oath and Hooding Ceremony for the Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. The larger portions makes ordering a little different (especially taking into account all of our dietary restrictions and preferences in our family), but everyone was happy with what they ordered.

Celebrating with us that evening were (in order clockwise from left to right) my grandparents Bill and Ruby and John and Patsy, my parents Kevin and Lori, my sister Brittney, me, Kenneth, Kenneth's parents Gerri and John, his brother Kyle and his girlfriend Tiffany, and family friends Deanne and Jay. We were all very excited to celebrate with Kenneth and congratulate him on four years of hard work!

The decor in Buca di Beppo is very bright, eclectic and zany. We sat at the "Pope table," named for the bust of the Pope in the center of the table's large lazy susan, or turntable. Photos, gold statues, Christmas lights and other memorabilia fill every nook and cranny of the restaurant, even in the restrooms! 

Buca di Beppo has a decent sized gluten-free menu which includes several antipasti and insalate choices, six entrees, five side dishes and ice cream as the dessert option. I love that they have a gluten-free dessert choice, but I'm disappointed that none of the entrees include gluten-free pasta. That's not to say that I haven't enjoyed the gluten-free dishes I've ordered at Buca di Beppo (my Dad and Kenneth always share with me!), but it would be more fun to enjoy pasta (and, if I'm making gluten-free requests, bread) with everyone!

Be sure to tell your server at Buca di Beppo if you're ordering gluten-free so your dish is not dusted with flour!

I was so hungry that I completely forgot to photograph the delicious Mozzarella Caprese that we shared, but I did manage to capture some of the other dishes from my side of the "Pope table."

I tried the Italian Lemon Drop, which came with SKYY Infusions Citrus Vodka, fresh lemon juice, basil, simple syrup and delicious Caravella Limoncello. It was quite good! I took a photo of the (not gluten-free) bread that our table munched on, mostly because it looked delicious, but also to give my lemon drop a break (I was treating it like my 'bread' while we waited for our food).

My Mom and sister shared the Penne alla Vodka. They liked it but were surprised by how spicy it was (Dennings are not known for our ability to handle spicy foods, mild salsa has made my nose run before!). Kenneth, my Dad and I shared the the Chicken Marsala, which was delicious! Chicken and mushrooms in a sweet Marsala wine reduction. For dessert, I had a frothy latte.

It was so nice to share the evening with family and friends - and even better that we could all fit around the table together comfortably! The man of the hour was even sung to by Buca di Beppo staff and brought a giant candlestick to blow out the candles. 

This was the last meal at a restaurant I enjoyed with my Grandma, Ruby. She passed away a week ago in her sleep. Writing this post has been difficult, I am proud of my husband's accomplishments but opening this draft document and seeing photos I took of my Grandma gave me pause. 

My Grandma loved this restaurant. She first visited it in 2010 when my Grandpa was at Ohio State University Hospital for a procedure. She loved the giant meatballs and spaghetti. Per her recommendation, we went to Buca di Beppo's just a month later for Christmas before visiting Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and then opening gifts at our apartment. One of the family photos at the funeral home was taken that evening. It's of Grandma with me, my sister and our cousins Lindsey and Kelsey. We had a lot of fun that Christmas, Emma even joined us briefly and met my cousin Lindsey and Nate's son, Aiden, who was just a year old at the time. Emma had never seen a baby before, and Aiden had never met a cat. They circled each other for a while, Emma kept trying to rub her head on Aiden's toy, which he would quickly lift out of her reach. 

Buca di Beppo is a great restaurant for dinner with family and friends and a pretty good place to make memories!

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