I have been going to Buca's since they opened in Brandon. The portions were so huge, I used to bring home leftovers for a week. It was like going to my grandmothers house when I was a little girl. When you arrive, the hostess asks you if you have ever been there. If you haven't been there, tell her no. They will take you into the kitchen (what restaurant does that) showing you the pizza prep area, the rest of the kitchen, the pope's room (an actual room) and talk to you about all of the art work on the wall. The music is interesting if you actually know some Italian artists, Dean Martin, Louis Prima, etc, sand it plays nonstop through out your meal. These are songs that my grandmother had on when I was a little girl (4 years old) and I still remember the words. The pictures are all over the wall, I mean covering the walls, more than any wall in any house I have ever been in. In 1 room, if you look on the ceiling, there are copies of the fronts of record album jackets and movie posters of long ago.
The food is served family style, which means, huge amounts, in a big bowl in the middle of the table. Now, they have smaller portions, which means, for a large group, you can order a bunch of the smaller items and get even more different tastes to try. My husbands favorite is the Linguine frutti di mare (linguine with seafood, shrimp, mussels, clams, and calamari). This dish has a red sause that does not over power the dish, has a little bite, and has so much seafood, that you actually know that you are eating seafood. We like the garlic bread with cheese, but like the bruschetta topping on top of it, like a mini pizza. The pan fried mozzarella is fresh mozzarella, dipped in bread crumbs and pan fried. It is totally awesome and so good. As for the pizza, my favorite is the pizza bianca, it only talks of the red onions, but they are caramelized, and it has 4 cheeses that make your mouth explode with flavor. If you want pasta, but don't want meat, try the spaghetti aglio olio, it has veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc, in a light olive oil and garlic sauce, to die for. The eggplant is like my grandmother's and I can't duplicate it.
As for desert, the one thing when I want desert is call on my way home from 6818462, and order a tiramisu to go. You tell them what kind of car you are driving, park in the designated parking area, and they bring it out to you.
They have a decent alcoholic selection, and even have a bar in the restaurant. The wait staff has entertained my whole family, including the kids when they were downright tired and miserable. I left with tired kids, but they weren't cranky anymore. At 3 years old, my little one could tell you that her favorite restaurant was Buca's and it hasn't changed.
They have daily specials, and sometimes around the holidays, they sell cookbooks. I absolutely love this restaurant, and even though I can make the food for my family by scratch, we can cook either german or italian, sometimes I don't want to cook either when a crowd is at my house, so we get in the car and drive the 3 miles to Buca's. Sometimes it is just the immediate family. They have never disappointed.