It’s not often that the street address of a restaurant becomes essential in finding it. In the case of Bucci, however, it’s just the opposite. The low-key façade without a trace of neon, lights or signage other than small, discreet white letters on a black awning makes it necessary to know the 20217 number on Mack Avenue in Grosse Pointe Woods on these dark winter nights.
Low-key is just the way proprietor Bujar (Bucci) Mamuslari wants it, and apparently his instincts are correct. The restaurant that bears his name has been open since March of 1999, serving dinner only to a loyal clientele that appreciates his style, and it still draws a crowd.
Although the maestro is no longer there every evening as he once was, his son, Alban, and aspiring chef Aldo Giglio, are in the open kitchen with the line cooks preparing classic Italian and European dishes the restaurant is known for. This is not a place where diners should expect the latest trendy touches. They do expect, however, familiar dishes done very well.
Seats at the granite counter overlooking the action are usually booked up. For some diners, part of the enjoyment is being able to watch their selections being prepared in silvery saute pans over the leaping flames of the 12-burner gas stove.
Not everyone likes to be that close to the kitchen, of course, and there are linen-covered tables in the handsome adjoining dining rooms with rich red walls and European paintings, presided over by an attentive service staff that knows the menu and the wine list. Dinners begin with a choice of soup du jour or a fresh green salad, included in the entrée price.
Main dishes range from a notable house specialty, Chicken Bella, white breast meat adorned with dried cherries, hazelnuts and Marsala sauce sparked with finely minced mushrooms and herbs to rack of lamb, pan-seared, then finished in the oven and served with a subtle garlic sauce.
A standout when available is branzino, the delicate white Mediterranean fish set off by precisely cut vegetables and dots of colorful sauce, artistically but not fussily arranged on one of the white plates. Seafood also stars in several other dishes, notably linguine with clams, garlic and white wine. Appealing pasta dishes include one called Hot-Hot Spaghetti that includes jumbo shrimp, herbs, banana peppers and garlic tossed with the strands of pasta.
As might be expected, Bucci offers a well-chosen wine list.
Here’s a hint that will make it easier to find the destination. Watch for the brightly lit Boston Market sign. Bucci is just two doors north. On a recent visit, I wouldn’t have found it without that marker.
20217 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Woods
Call: (313) 882-1044
Hours: Dinner 5-10 p.m. Tues.-Sat., 5-9 p.m. Sun. Closed Mon.
Prices: Appetizers $8-$14, soups and salads $6-$9, entrees $18-$37, desserts $8
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar, with an emphasis on wine.
Noise level: Moderate
Wheelchair access: No barriers
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★— good ★★1/2 — very good ★★★— excellent ★★★★— outstanding