You need to be in training if you plan on eating an entire dinner at Buon Appetito. The servings are humongous, so you either have to come starving or at least alert the rest of the family that you will be bringing home a lot of delicious food.
We visited when there was the slightest hint of spring in the air, and tables were already out on the sidewalk, a positive sign that you could soon eat al fresco at this ever-popular Broadway eatery.
They have an extensive wine list and lots of bottled beer, which our waiter, Derik, rattled off from memory. We settled in with a couple of beers and a huge basket of fresh bread. I was really glad it came with butter. Olive oil is great, but sometimes you just want butter to melt on a beautiful slice of warm bread. Fair warning! Easy on the bread, you’ve got a long way to go.
My dinner companion ordered lobster bisque, a Friday specialty. The menu said a cup, but it was a large bowl. I took a sip. It was light and tasty instead of too heavy and creamy.
Anthony Stoebling, the owner, sent out many more dishes than we could possibly have eaten, but here is a rundown. All of it was flavorful, well balanced, and prepared with a creative combination of ingredients. The first to appear was a very large but somehow delicate homemade lasagna with meat and cheese, and a lovely zuppa dépêche, a savory seafood stew with clams, mussels, scallops, and shrimp, served with spaghetti. To get some greens into our meal, we ordered a side of spinach, sautéed with garlic.
Any normal people would have called it quits at this point, but out comes two more delectable dishes: veal osso bucca, meaning “bone with a hole,” a braised veal shank with mashed potatoes and gravy, and chicken Michael Angelo, topped with prosciutto, jumbo shrimp, and fresh mozzarella in a light sherry cream sauce.
At this point, I decided that I would just have to come back another time and try any one of these dishes all on its own.
OK, here’s where my friend thought I’d lost my mind. I wanted to order dessert. I wasn’t going to leave a fabulous Italian restaurant without ordering a fabulous Italian dessert. I chose the tartufo, vanilla and chocolate ice cream with cherries in a chocolate shell. It had something crunchy in the middle—an almond maybe? I nearly finished it, and my friend couldn’t resist taking a bite.
We ate it with frothy cappuccinos topped with lots of whipped cream. OMG!
A word about the ambience: Jimmy, the manager, and Derik, our waiter, couldn’t have been more gracious and accommodating. The dining room is painted in tranquil, muted colors with posters on the walls, and Josh Groban sings softly in the background. There is a small bar to the left as you enter.
We came early on a Friday evening, and soon the dining room started to fill with Bayonne regulars, a friendly, neighborly bunch, starting the weekend at their favorite hometown eatery.—Kate Rounds