Piccolo Buco opens in Oak Brook

Classic Italian food with modern twist

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Display of Italian cuisine from Piccolo Buco (Klos/LION).

George Ross and Matthew Klos

Piccolo Buco is a relatively new Italian restaurant that specializes in wood fired pizza and wine. The restaurant is inspired by the Piccolo Buco restaurant set in Rome but brought to Oak Brook by the infamous restaurant corporation, Cooper’s Hawk. They do not take reservations, but instead there is a waitlist offered if applicable. 

Immediately when we entered the restaurant, a welcoming and warm vibe filled the spacious room. A large wine tasting station with hundreds of bottles occupied the majority of the main room, while booths and tables filled up the rest of the restaurant. The seating was open and well dispersed. Although the party sitting beside us was large, we were still able to enjoy our meal peacefully and without distraction. Our waitress was exceptionally helpful and knowledgeable about the menu. There were many parties talking but none were so loud that we couldn’t have a conversation.

We undertook our review on a Wednesday afternoon, and there was no wait for us to get a table. 

We first ordered arancini ($12.49) as an appetizer. Arancini, a staple of Sicilian cuisine, consists of fried rice coated in breadcrumbs and shaped into a ball. It is typically served on top of red sauce and topped with cheese and whole basil leaves. It was brought out in a serving of five, with four at the base and one stacked on top.

Klos: As soon as five fried rice balls arranged in a tower were placed in front of me, I knew the rest of my experience at Piccolo Buco was going to be excellent. The arancini was drowning in a flavor-blasting burgundy tomato sauce. This sauce served as a perfect compliment to the arancini, which itself was not nearly as flavorful. The arancini gave me a sense of hope for the rest of the meal. 

Ross: Surrounding the arancini was a pomodoro sauce which made the plate, otherwise dull, pop out with color, marinating the rice. As soon as I tasted it, I immediately wanted another bite. The sauce blended perfectly with the arancini creating a subtle, but not overwhelming spice.

For the main course we ordered two pizzas. One was the classic margherita ($16.99) with red sauce, spots of mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves.

Klos: The pizza was served with a large pair of scissors rather than a typical pizza cutter. The crust was airy and light, which paired perfectly with the strong flavor of basil leaves topped upon the thin layer of crust scattered with melted chunks of mozzarella. This pizza took the cake between the two. The fresh basil and sweet but juicy tomato was the x-factor for this pie. 

Ross: You can never go wrong with good old mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes. This pizza was no exception to the rule. Although the entire pizza wasn’t covered in the mozzarella, there was still enough cheese. The tomato sauce was cooked to perfection, with each bite getting a sweet tomato flavor. The basil added a fresh garden smell to the pizza. Put it all together and you get a pizza that smells and tastes like the ingredients have come straight from the garden to your plate. 

The other pizza that we ordered was the four cheese with olive oil ($18.49). The pizza was topped with two kinds of melted parmesan, gorgonzola, dulce, pecorino romano cheese, basil, and nutmeg. 

Klos: This pizza was a close second to the margherita. It was drizzled in a heavy serving of olive oil. Below the olive oil was the thin crust topped with chunks of the four cheeses; the different cheeses complimented each other well, although the olive oil flavor was slightly overpowering. If the ratio of cheese to olive oil was reconstructed, this pizza had the potential to be better than the first. 

Ross: I have mixed emotions about this pizza. The first bite that I took out of the pizza, the olive oil was so overpowering that all I got was a bitter taste in my mouth. However, when I took a bite that had more cheese, it was a great combination of flavors. The four cheeses blend perfectly together to create a sweeter taste to counteract the bitter olive oil. 

After our pizza we were served a popular Italian dessert, tiramisu ($9.79). It is a classic coffee flavored Italian dessert, layered with coffee soaked ladyfingers, mascarpone cheese, and often topped with chocolate in various forms. The tiramisu was served upon a tray with a small portion of Grand Marnier creme anglaise by its side.

Klos: The tiramisu was sweet and rich, complimented by a slightly sweet cream which took away a touch of the richness. The tiramisu was my favorite part of the meal. The presentation, flavors, and richness create a one-of-a-kind flavor that can’t be found elsewhere. 

Ross: Tiramisu has a certain high standard, this tiramisu did not disappoint that standard. The massive portion was more than enough for both of us. Even splitting it down the middle, I had trouble finishing it, but the flavor is clearly evident. Every bite I took hit me with the different flavors and components, one bite I tasted the coffee, the next was the rich milky chocolate. 

Piccolo Buco is located at 1818 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook, Ill. The atmosphere was great, the food was reminiscent of traditional Italian but with a modern take with some minor hiccups, and the staff were friendly and attentive. Overall we rate Piccolo Buco 4 out of 5 paws.