10/14/2015 08:26 EDT | Updated 10/14/2016 05:12 EDT

This is How Italians Do Brunch

Theresa Albert

The staff at Buca Yorkville is the first to admit that breakfast in Italy is a simple pastry and coffee, but bridging Canadian cravings with their commitment to Italian dining means creating brunch. Luckily, brunch is my favourite meal, as it allows plenty of time to exercise up an appetite and it isn't too late in the day for digestion before bed. I love the luxury of a long, hearty meal that I can savour for hours and remember for the entire day.

Buca has the contemporary atmosphere, muted colours, rich glassware and tableware expected of a high-end restaurant. The comfort and design is enhanced with well-dressed, well-informed, extremely welcoming staff, many of whom have just enough true Italian accent to set the tone.

This Sunday, as the room filled with folks fresh from their obviously stylish showers wearing their super hip outfits, the din and hubbub were friendly. Fancy coffee with either cow's or buffalo milk clinked us all awake.

In the name of trying as much of this creative Italian-style brunch menu as we could, we hopped through the small bites and cold plates portion of the menu as appetizers, followed by the hot plates section for a main. There is no protocol on this ordering technique, honestly, the richness of any one dish could have made a complete meal.

Schacciata is a Tuscan-style focaccia bread baked in pork fat, liberally salted and topped liberally with fontina cheese and roasted cherry tomatoes. One juicy fat bite let me know I was in for a treat. The cold plates contained a significant amount of raw fish dishes that are quite typical of Italy, but don't tickle my fancy. I find textures and tastes of fish enhanced by heat.

The Pomodorini Bruciati boasted plump cherry tomatoes that were charred and set into a bowl with very smooth and aged red wine vinegar. My hope was to have the acidic tomatoes lighten the experience, but crema di burrata (they like buffalos here methinks) was poured warm at the table. This served to enhanced the flavour and informed me not to hope for anything low-cal. Sit back, enjoy and plan for celery sticks the rest of the day. Gladly.

My dining partner and I shared an entree of Zuppa di Pesce, which hosted fresh, fine fish; shrimp; and octopus in a shellfish bisque that cradled rather than sauced the food. The poached egg topper was the only nod to the usual. This meal not being a toast-and-poached-egg kind of experience meant that bread which would have sopped up the delicious broth wasn't served. The accompanying crostini was smoky and crisp, but it didn't sop up every last drop.

Choices from the sweet section pointed directly to mini Italian doughnuts for me thanks to one simple phrase: "stuffed with dolce de leche crema." They did not disappoint. The tiny profiterole-type vessels needed no further adornment as the crema oozed its beckoning sweetness. Charmed and dazzled with excellent Italian food, Buca goes way beyond brunch.

This $150 meal would absolutely rival an all-you-can-eat upscale buffet. But if you are looking for anything "benny" i.e. eggs with hollandaise on the side, this resto isn't for you. It you have a big hunger for Italian mid morning, you couldn't do better.

Disclaimer: The restaurant paid for my meal, but no one can buy my love.


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