This summer my husband and I are celebrating our 13th birthday. As we were thinking about the best way to celebrate – definitely a night out, really great food – I pitched the idea of taking a hike south to Portland. We have lived outside the city for a few years and have great memories and many favorites in the city of Roses, one of the best being Italian cafe La Buca.
If I had to eat one kind of food for the rest of my life, it would be difficult to choose between Mexican and Italian. In the end, I’m pretty sure Italian would win, in particular, La Buca’s version over Italian.
This northeast Portland restaurant is a must-see for anyone living in the Pacific Northwest. This is truly the best Italian dish I have found and visited my fair share in the area! I mean, that was my # 1 request for my birthday weekend. And, confession, not only did I enjoy my meal there that night, I asked my husband to pack our sturdy cooler so I could order a second meal to enjoy a day or two later a day or two later. times at home.
Now I’m sure you’re wondering which two dishes caught my taste buds at four o’clock south as my birthday party of choice. And of course I share! With all the finalists that I appreciated during my previous visits to La Buca.
To start, my husband and I shared a Caesar salad. La Buca is not just any Caesar. They have a house dressing AND homemade croutons that take it up a notch. If I had had room for more veg, I definitely would have ordered the gorgonzola salad too. Apple romaine, toasted walnuts, and creamy homemade gorgonzola dressing can practically make a meal on its own. We also shared calamari. It’s the best part about dining with family and close friends – you can share menu items and taste more! This was our first time having the calamari from La Buca and my husband said he ‘could drink the lemon aioli’ which was served alongside as a dip.
For the main course, I chose my favorite dish – pasta perfection called Vegetariana. It’s rare that I choose a vegetarian meal but this penne dish is delicious! The freshest of the summer – Roma tomatoes, broccoli, and roasted yellow red peppers – are tossed in garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, and finished with a pinch of pine nuts. grilled pine. This. East. Incredible.
Vegetariana has definitely filled me up, especially after sharing a salad, squid, and free rustic bread, but remember, I was planning on having a take out! I went for Abituale where once again the penne is the star, but this time it’s coated in a roasted garlic tomato cream sauce and mixed with spicy Italian sausage and Parmesan cheese. Well, super amazing! I slipped in two bites before wrapping it up to enjoy it later. I’m telling you, ordering two meals is a great plan when visiting a faraway favorite restaurant. Highly recommend.
So that Vegetariana and Abituale do not tempt you, I am behind quite a few other meals. As you surely guessed, when we lived in the south I often visited La Buca! Basil Pesto is a classic (but better) pesto pasta dish and Al Forne is hands down the best baked lasagna dish. I always add chicken to this one. La Buca is also where I learned to love risotto and appreciate all kinds of bruschetta.
Unfortunately, we were packed before dessert, because isn’t it true that you can find room for a starter or a finish? But if you go for the dessert route, you can’t miss La Buca’s bread pudding. It comes with a whiskey cream sauce that has never been replicated in my never-ending quest for bread pudding. Tiramisu is, of course, another decadent choice.
If a South Portland getaway calls you, don’t leave Oregon without tasting the perfect Italian meal at La Buca. No doubt you will become a lifelong fan of this quaint cafe.
La Buca offers on-site dining – indoors and out – as well as take-out. They open at 5pm every day for dinner.