Il Buco – 25 Years of Fabulous Food

It must be my week of “food nostalgia”. First, on Saturday, I attended the amazing talk Dana Cowin gave about food and its evolution over the past 50 years at the Salisbury Library and then just days later, discovering this wonderful article that was in NYT Magazine in September: The New York Restaurat That Feels Like an Italian Farmhouse.

I first was introduced to the Il Buco over 20 years ago, when Bond Street and the East Village were far from mainstream. My daughter and son-in-law (Jamey and Dana Simpson) were planning on opening a restaurant in Lakeville, CT.  To this day, people still talk about Charlotte in Lakeville…its food, its ambiance and its beautiful decor.

In a corner of the dining room, a bare wood table and chairs are set off by a selection of antiques — a reminder of the restaurant’s past life. (From New York Times Magazine by Charissa Fay)

Our visit to Il Buco was a field trip so to speak, meant to inspire and help us conceptualize their restaurant idea.  The wine and food were Jamey’s domain but they both had an idea of the kind of atmosphere they wanted to create, and one with a French influence.  They had heard of this small Italian restaurant in the East Village where the owners had created an atmosphere of an old charming farmhouse (and you could even buy some of the antiques in the restaurant!)

Inspire us, it did, and Dana and Jamey went on to operate a successful restaurant for three years.  Yes, it is a very hard business, and especially difficult in our neck of the woods.  They’ve gone on to other endeavors, but Charlotte will always be special in my heart and many others who remember it.

But, back to Il Buco.  That visit is still ingrained in my memory.  The bread, the olive oil, the wine and the country charm.  Almost once a year, when in New York, I try to get there for lunch or an early dinner.  The area, indeed, has changed, but the charm is still there and my favorite stores–John Derian and Paula Rubeinstein–are close by.

Il Buco is my idea of absolute perfection…

“With its bare wood tables, pitchers stuffed with sunflowers, antique armoires, quirky twisted wood chandeliers and long communal tables, Il Buco is a perfectly achieved restaurant; it looks and feels exactly as intended — not an easy feat when the intention is a mellow ambience, a rustic Italy. This is the Umbria of the imagination, but better.” (NYT Magazine)

I could go on and on, but trust me….read the article and visit Il Buco. In this day of corporate mentality, cookie-cutter restaurants and stores, and the lack of quirky and imperfect authenticity and lack of soul, this place will make your heart sing.

It will definitely be on my calendar for the New Year!

Trust me, if you are a “foodie” you’ll love this article…and the next time you are in the city, by all means, make this a destination!  Open for lunch and through the late evening, I promise you…it won’t disappoint!