First Look

Baonecci Ristorante's Lucchese-Style Dishes Are Worth the Price, Whatever Social Media Grumblers Say

Hank Vaughn
The dish that made Lucca proud, tordelli lucchesi: meat ravioli, housemade pork and beef bolognese sauce and parsley.
The Gambaccini family hails from Lucca, Italy, that beautiful city in Tuscany famous for its Renaissance walls and tordelli lucchesi, a bright yellow pasta made with eggs that is similar to ravioli but always filled with a mixture of meat, usually beef and/or pork, and sauced with a rich meat ragu. After originally emigrating to San Francisco in 2005 and opening their Lucchese-inspired restaurant, Caffe Baonecci, the family decided this year to move the entire operation and family to Frisco and had their opening in June.

Chef Stefania Gambaccini learned her craft at the apron strings of her “mommy grandmothers” and slowly transitioned from cooking for friends’ parties to joining her family in presenting typical dishes from Lucca that one usually only finds in Italian homes. The pasta is freshly made each day from scratch, and the chef rolls out each pizza herself. Now, there’s been a fair amount of grumbling on social media about the cost and servings sizes at Baonecci Ristorante, and the Gambaccinis address this on their website:

“We know… our fare is not inexpensive, due to high-quality ingredients used for each dish, plus for the love of an Italian woman that puts her heart in every dish that she cooks for you... As we say in Italian, ‘non si può avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca’ : ‘you can’t have both a full carafe of wine and a drunken wife.’”

Indeed.

We decided to see for ourselves, and we're glad we did. It was a trek out there to be sure, but once we arrived we were warmly greeted by the Gambaccini patriarch, a bearded gentleman whose Italian accent and mannerisms were almost straight out of a Fellini movie, in the best possible way. After we were seated, we were brought our own water bottle, something we always appreciate. We ordered a couple of glasses of Chianti at the very reasonable cost of $13 each and decided on our courses. We opted for a starter, a pasta, a pizza and a dessert, all of which we intended to share.
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A couple of affordable glasses of Chianti were a perfect complement to the meal.
Hank Vaughn
The starter selection was fagioli all'uccelletto. We weren’t sure if this was a soup or not, since in our Italian household “pasta fagioli” was always a soup. This was not a soup but was instead a beautifully prepared warm bowl of cannellini beans, tomato sauce, sausage, garlic and sage. The tomato sauce was rich and robust but not overpowering, the sausage meaty with a perfect texture. We could have made a meal of this with a larger bowl and a few chunks of crusty bread. (Side note: they do not serve bread here as many typically American-Italian restaurants do.)
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Fagioli all'uccelletto: cannellini beans, tomato sauce, sausage, garlic and sage $18
Hank Vaughn
Of course our pasta choice was tordelli lucchesi. This is described on the menu as meat ravioli with house made pork and beef Bolognese sauce and parsley. There were six rather large pieces (about three inches in diameter) to the order, which was just enough for the two of us. These were extremely good, probably better than the ones we had in Lucca proper a few years ago in a now-defunct spot hidden within that city’s walls. The pasta was perfectly cooked, the meat sauce full of flavor.
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The dish that made Lucca proud, tordelli lucchesi: meat ravioli, housemade pork and beef bolognese sauce and parsley.
Hank Vaughn
Our pizza selection was the Maremma diavola, which is described as having a very spicy tomato sauce, garlic, olive oil and Italian parsley. (The eagle eyed will notice no cheese is mentioned.) This was an extremely thin pizza a little bigger than 12 inches in diameter that was probably some of the best pizza we’ve had in ages. It was spicy, yes, but it was something else as well: fresh, crispy, chewy, bold and crunchy. Each bite reminded me of my Italian great-grandmother’s kitchen.
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Maremma diavola has a very spicy tomato sauce, garlic, olive oil and italian parsley; and no cheese.
Hank Vaughn
We were looking forward to cannoli for dessert, but since they were out, we ordered the tiramisu, which arrived at our table in a glass coffee cup and liberally topped with chocolate powder. With two spoons we finished this nicely done dessert in probably under three minutes.
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If you can't have cannoli have tiramisu: Mascarpone Cream, Ladyfingers soaked In espresso and chocolate powder, $12
Hank Vaughn
In short, this was wonderful food served up by a warm and friendly family that could have been stand-ins for my Italian relatives. The patriarch asked how our meal was and shook our hands as we left. Yes, it is expensive. The pasta dish was $35, which of course is high for a pasta serving. Perhaps they need to readjust a bit and realize that Frisco is not San Francisco … or perhaps not. After all, remember, you can’t have both a full carafe of wine and a drunken wife.

7151 Preston Road, Unit 451 (Frisco), 4 p.m. - 10 p.m. Monday - Saturday