The Subject: Liev Schreiber, actor
The Restaurant: Il Buco
The Cuisine: Regional Italian
The Location: New York City
I moved in to my place on Bond Street in the mid-90s. I used to walk up and down the block with my little Jack Russell dog and there was a weird rustic furniture store I always passed that I thought was strange-looking. This was long before the rents on the block became completely ludicrous.
I met [Il Buco owner] Donna [Lennard] outside of the store a couple times, and we started chatting like friendly neighbors. She told me she was turning it into a restaurant and that we should come by.
(Lennard opened Il Buco at 47 Bond Street in 1994).
It was curiously the most delicious Italian food in New York City—and that’s saying a lot. They had this olive oil that they would put on the table. That was their hustle: they knew they would get you in with the rustic bread and the olive oil that had a spicy, bold flavor.
I know nothing about wine and I wouldn’t call myself an epicure by any stretch of the imagination, but being able to talk to [the restaurant’s original co-owner] Alberto about pairing wine with food was always a learning experience.
In the beginning, the restaurant was kind of empty and quiet. There was a nice neighborhood feel about it. But two to three years later, it was jumping. When they ended up opening a dining room downstairs, we went every Thursday night.
What [Donna] has done with that place from a marketing perspective and a branding perspective is pretty remarkable. She has this real traveler mentality. I don’t know as a businessperson, though. I know her as a “hang out on the stoop”-type of person. You could sit out on the stoop and talk to her all day if you had the time.
Over the years, it’s been all the little dishes that have really defined the place. I like the kale salad a lot, and I tend to fall for the pasta specials. Whatever special pasta dish they’re offering is worth taking a shot at. I’ll never forget their boar ragu served over pappardelle.
Sitting out front of the restaurant on a warm summer night, taking in the smell of Bond Street and a fine Chianti—there’s truly nothing better than that.
As told to Lindsay Silberman