The boss frowns upon heavy drinking at lunchtime, but there's no rule against tying on a midday carbohydrate buzz. So we're happy to report that at downtown's new Bucatini's (1228 Euclid Avenue, 216-696-1334), heaping helpings of pasta are the order of the day.
Owner and chef Sergio Porcelli (former proprietor of Sergio's Italian Restaurant, near Public Square) opened his 70-seat restaurant inside the Halle Building on March 12, in space formerly occupied by Lu Cuisine. But don't come here looking for rice noodles: Porcelli serves high-quality Italian pasta and tops it with fresh, flavorful sauces, to good effect.
On a recent lunch visit, the menu included penne Alfredo, ravioli with tomato-cream sauce, and gnocchi with rosemary pesto, among other dishes. And don't overlook the restaurant's namesake bucatini -- long, hollow pasta tubes that slap sauce down your chin faster than you can say "dry cleaner." We ordered ours tossed with olive oil, chopped kalamatas, sun-dried tomato, and bits of creamy feta; despite the dryish grilled chicken strips on top and the surprise appearance of a couple of free-range olive pits, the ample dish possessed a great medley of flavors. Even better, at a modest $8.95, the meal included a small tossed salad with shredded mozzarella and a thick slice of bread. (Still, we wish management would exchange the little plastic tubs of Promise for pats of real butter. And how about real half-and-half, rather than non-dairy creamer, and cloth napkins instead of paper?)
There are also the usual veal and chicken Parmesans, as well as chicken piccata, chicken Marsala, and three meal-sized salads, all priced under $9. End lunch with a square of homemade tiramisu ($3), and you should be able to pass the afternoon in a comfy state of carb-induced somnambulism.
Porcelli hopes to snare a liquor license -- and open up for dinner -- within the next two months. For now, lunch is served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Great deal . . . Ohio City's Flying Fig (2523 Market Avenue) is offering a fabulous-sounding six-course Prix Fixe Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 27. The menu is filled with lush Mediterranean fare such as short-rib ravioli, tapenade-crusted lamb loin, and mascarpone cheesecake, matched to wines from the Sonoma boutique winery Eric Ross. Cost is $60 per person; make reservations at 216-241-4243.