Restaurant review: Buca Di Pizza, Leeds city centre

NEW FRIEND: Buca Di Pizza, pizza restaurant and cocktail bar. PIC: Simon Hulme
NEW FRIEND: Buca Di Pizza, pizza restaurant and cocktail bar. PIC: Simon Hulme
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Bidding farewell to an old friend was a particularly galling moment for the dining scene of Leeds.

When La Grillade on Wellington Street closed its doors just before Christmas last year after 30 years in business it hit the city hard.

And it came as a time that a number of other key players in the dining scene of Leeds had departed.

However, it was reassuring to see the former La Grillade site transformed before our eyes into a pizza restaurant and cocktail bar called Buca Di Pizza.

The restaurant has been set up by the family-run Atlas Group, which is behind established Leeds bars Épernay, Atlas and Pour House.

And it opened its doors to customers for the first time over two months ago with the aim to serve up traditional Italian recipes and to impress diners.

My lunch companion and I decided to venture mid-week after work and as soon as we walked down the basement steps we couldn’t help but feel as though we were reacquainting ourselves with an old friend.

There were a few people in the bar but it appeared that we were one of a small handful of diners.

We were given a choice of tables and we opted to sit near the pass so we could see our food prepared before our eyes.

The menu was peppered with traditional pizzas such as the faithful Margherita before moving on to much more unusual choices.

There was the inventive Bubba, layered with shrimp, Gorgonzola and a blue cheese sauce as well as The Wing Commander which came served with chicken wings in Bucca’s very own hot sauce.

For the more adventurous there was the Anatra which is served with smoked Foie Gras and the Aragosta complete with lobster tails, lobster bisque and caviar cream cheese.

I decided to sample one of the more basic choices and ordered the Pepperoni pizza, priced at £8.50, while my lunch companion eventually managed to settle on the Carni, which was priced at £12.

We could see the chef mysteriously transform our pizzas right in front of our eyes.

The Carni pizza came with pancetta, bolagnese sauce, pepperoni,Tuscan and spicey sausage.

Although my partner didn’t take heed of the spice warning, he was left struggling to finish the pizza because of the powerful heat it packed.

My pizza was perfectly cooked and the base was crisp and light.

Overall our bill came in at £26.50 which also included a beer and a soft drink.

However the only glitch we came across during our visit was when we went to pay.

The restaurant has recently had a new mobile phone receiver to the basement to allow customers to get a signal.

But the card machine was struggling to receive a signal to pay for our meal. Thankfully after another attempt it finally accepted payment.

On leaving Little Oliver still couldn’t help feel as though he has just reacquainted himself with an old friend.

Rating: 3/5