Buca di Beppo is an Italian restaurant where all but the most ravenous diners will have doggie bags to take home. They serve family-style food in two sizes: Small, which feeds up to three people, and Large, which feeds up to six people. The only exception is that at lunch they offer single-serving dishes. But, in general, you are going to have lots of food on your table.
Buca di Beppo is a chain, the first restaurant having opened in 1993 in Minneapolis, and there are now approximately 87 locations across the country, including four in Massachusetts: Lexington, Dedham, Shrewsbury, and Seekonk. In 2008, the company was purchased by Planet Hollywood International Inc. Its Massachusetts' locations are relatively new and I was recently invited to check out their Lexington restaurant.
Though it is a chain, I don't dismiss a restaurant simply because of that fact. Not all chains are the same, and some actually produce tasty food. Each chain needs to be evaluated on its own merits, though also considering the intent of the restaurant. Buca Di Beppo wants to appeal to families and groups, providing lots of food at reasonable prices. It is not seeking to produce gourmet cuisine, and is trying create the type of food that is familiar to most consumers.
Their menu is fairly extensive, with Antipasti, Insalate, Pizza, Pasta, Baked Pasta, Entrees and Side Dishes. Plus, they have a number of limited-time specials. You'll find lots of the usual red-sauce Italian dishes, from chicken parmigiana to meatballs, from lasagna to fruitti di mare. Prices seem reasonable considering the amount of food you receive, such as small entrees, enough for three people, ranging from $17-$26.
I did have an initial issue with my menu being dirty and sticky, and my companion's menu was also dirty, though not to the extent of mine. That left a bad first impression and Buca needs to address that issue. Their menus have that plastic-like coating and it should be easy to keep them clean, though they need to regularly check the menus.
The wine list has many mass produced, commercial choices, not much to excite a wine lover, but most are reasonably priced. I tried their House Chianti though and was pleasantly surprised, as it was an easy-drinking, fruit driven wine with more character than I would have expected at its low price point. I also tasted the Italian Margarita, which was ok but too sweet for my tastes. But, I can see how many others would enjoy it. They make homemade sodas, so I had to try one and decided on the Purple Pear. I really enjoyed it, especially as it was not overly sweet and had nice tastes of pear and strawberry.
As Buca di Beppo is new, I give it some leeway so they have sufficient time to work out the initial kinks. But, the food in general is good, with a couple dishes that are excellent. Plus note that I only tried a small sampling of their menu so I can't speak for the rest of the food. It would be a great place for families and large groups to dine. It is not a fine-dining establishment but does not pretend to be either. It is a place for hearty fare, to sate almost any appetite.