Il Buco has been a much-awarded cheapeats restaurant for many years. How it has eluded our reviews until now is a mystery!
The team at Il Buco makes traditional thin-crust pizza and sells it by the slice ($6). The pizza is partially cooked, and you can choose to either have Il Buco finish the pizza off in their oven or take it home to finish cooking it yourself. The soup and soldiers option ($8.50) would be welcome on a chilly day. Rotisserie chickens ($25) are ready at 5:30pm and you can pre-order one to pick up and take home for dinner.
Owner Jonny Rudduck uses the best of ingredients and the care that he shows in making the pizzas shows in the flavour of the food: it is arguably the best pizza in town.
The day I popped in for lunch I dithered over the showcase just brim full of slices with different toppings. Classic Margherita or potato with rosemary and Italian sausage or puttanesca (with chili, olives, capers and anchovies) or broccoli with gorgonzola were just some of the many options. Gluten-free pizza slices were offered in a separate showcase. In the end I went with Jonny’s advice and tried the Boscaiola – tomato, mushroom, mozzarella, Italian sausage and capsicum.
Il Buco also offers “little bites” to whet the appetite or have as a quick snack, so I also ordered a pesto filled mushroom cap and a risotto ball. I could have added a potato croquette to my order but knew it would have been “a bridge too far”.
The restaurant is only slightly larger than the pizza slices that it sells, and seating is limited to a couple of small outside tables and a counter with stools facing the buzzing Ponsonby Road. I set myself down and watched the activity across the street to the new Ponsonby Central while waiting for my pizza and snacks to be finished in the oven.
Lunch arrived in short order and was attractively presented on a small wooden board. I couldn’t resist the filled mushroom cap and so popped it into my mouth. Beware! It is very hot! After I coped with the scalding food in my mouth (my own fault), I loved the intense flavour burst of the pesto filling. The risotto ball was less challenging. It was nice and crispy on the outside and the rice had been mixed with tomato. Pleasant but not the flavour impact of the mushroom cap.
The best was yet to come. Having eaten one of those chain-style pizzas last week, I had forgotten just how good authentic pizza can be. The Boscaiola pizza slice was everything I was looking for: melting, oozy cheese, with the bite of the capsicum and the savoury meatiness of the clumps of Italian sausage, all on a light crispy crust. Divine!
There are biscotti and chocolates to eat with your Supreme coffee, or you can indulge in a little cup of real hot chocolate ($3). Go the whole way and have the hot chocolate poured over some ice cream!
Il Buco also caters and can supply pizza slices and sides for a crowd.