Taste the home-style trattoria.
The 40-seat Italian Restaurant Il Bucatino has held its place in the heart of the Eira district for two-and-a-half years, offering robust servings of simple but authentic Italian food. Upon my visit, the owners – Gino and Italo – made sure that I had a tasteful and highly relaxing dining experience.
The setting is clean and open, with large windows maximising natural light, allowing the diner to clearly see what is served. The owners aimed to create a trattoria setting, replicative of the home-style Italian restaurants in which hungry workers seek hearty food in lavish portions, but with the dishes and services more cured.
Yet unlike the stereotypical Italian joint, the layout of the Helsinki restaurant is clean and tidy, with white tablecloths and white walls that keep any daytime visitor awake. In the evening, catering to the requests of Finnish customers, the candles at each table create an earnest, relaxed atmosphere.
True to their efforts, the food at Il Bucatino is simple and good. The dish with which I began – Caprese – was an excellent example of the simplicity of authentic Italian food. The dish was a simple combination of milky soft Buffalo mozarella, pressed between slices of fresh tomato, and seasoned with a light sting of black pepper.
Favourite to follow up
The second dish, Vitello Tonato, was my favourite of the evening. The dish would appeal to the palate of any Finnish diner due to the simplicity of its its taste. The dish boasted sheets of veal, glazed in a creamy sauce with just enough tang of warm tuna. A soft and natural saltiness came from the anchovies blended into the sauce.
The night at Il Bucatino was slightly marred by the saltiness of the Rigatoni Con Gorgonzola E Radicchio, a new pasta which will be available to customers after the new menu is confirmed. In all other aspects, this dish of Rigatoni pasta, gorgonzola blue cheese, parmesan and red salad was otherwise well crafted, and boasted a particularly good blend of cheese.
On a general level, I was impressed by the creativity and authenticity invested in the menu. Italo explained to me that the dishes – like the owners – came from diverse range of regions in Italy. For instance, he explained, Caprese originates in the Capri/Naples landscape, while Vitello Tonato originates in the regions further north. I concluded that the restaurant was moulded by a strong touch of home.
Furthermore, Il Bucatino was careful to add in Italian staples such as excellent fresh in-house baked bread. In true Italian fashion, this white bread served as a delicious edible sponge for any remaining sauce on my plate.
Similarly, Italians are drawn to a particular blend of music, which was also evidenced during my visit. An Italian musician occasionally performs at Il Bucatino, and when this luxury is unavailable, the staff plays an Italian radio channel spanning all genres and ages – from Pausini to Bocelli to Baglioni.
Much of the food used by Il Bucatino is directly imported from Italy through Casa Gusto, an import firm owned by Italo. These imports include pasta, flour, cheeses, wines, hams and salamis. The products are also sold directly to stores in the S and K groups.
It also felt like a good idea to ask a regular. Sandra Benko praised Il Bucatino, finding that the menu offers a "tour of Italy". She has found the restaurant to serve as an excellent place for entertaining business guests, as well as a place to have family meals.
One of the notable differences between Il Bucatino and other Italian restaurants in Finland, Benko also noted, is that other restaurants prepare food 'geared to what was perceived to be the Finnish palate', while Il Bucatino strived to preserve Italian tradition.
Photo: Alicia Jensen
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