Bussia, Amsterdam, The Netherlands ****

Q: What is it? A: A rather good Italian restaurant in the centre of Amsterdam.

You deserve a wild duck!

I’ve heard that this is a Bussia classic: Wild duck with plums and pistachio nuts.

You deserve an almond cake!

Dolci: An almond cake; not too impressive but the dessert wine was awesome!

Red door. Italian restaurant.

Fact: All Dutch cabbies are bad. Tell your lousy no-good driver, with his non-functional GPS, to go to Reestraat 28, between Keizersgracht and Prinsengracht.

Eating Italian in Amsterdam? Sure!
I requested something else from the concierge at the Dylan hotel but he presented Bussia to me with so much confidence that decided to believe it hook, line and sinker. Any regrets? None at all. It opened in October, 2008 and is a stronghold of “Modern Italian” slow food cooking. The first impression was not modern, (se image above). From the exterior Bussia looks traditional, homey and almost romantic. You’d expect to find a restaurant like this in a small, rural town. If it hadn’t been Amsterdam it would have felt completely out-of-place.

The antidote of fast food.
If an establishment is serious about Slow Food it means that they are part of an eco-gastronomic organization founded in Barolo in 1987 by Carlo Petrini, along with Italian intellectuals like Dario Fo and Folco Portinari. The organization’s credo: Cibo buono, pulito e giusto means something close to Good food, clean and fair. The idea was to counteract fast food and re-establish the status of tastes. This has one very practical effect on a visit to Bussia: You need to set aside a few hours for this performance act, especially if you are ordering the 6-course set menu. Not being in a hurry will make your evening more simple. It may also make and life in general more enjoyable.

Yeah, yeah… but what about the food?
They kick it off in style. The bread, baked daily in the Bussia kitchens, is fantastic. After a soft start with an amuse of bisque and octopus crostini, chef JP van Schip’s ideas of innovative Italian cooking is delivered at a slow, steady pace. The flagship of the six-course menu is the wild duck with figs. When serving it, the waiter warned for pellets, (at Bussia, they don’t name it wild duck for nothing). The dessert of apple and almond cake failed to impress me but the dessert wine was awesome!
You should expect Bussia to score points for wine, as the maitre, Nathalie Girard, also acts as sommelier. Actually, the name Bussia is taken from the famous Barolo vineyards, (there are as many as 30 Barolo wines to choose from). The overall impression: A very solid four-star rating, and a special note that if you never thought about eating Italian in Amsterdam, think again.

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Additional note: When this is written, Bussia is just below #200 out of some 950 restaurants in Amsterdam at TripAdvisor. My personal guess is that a restaurant this low-key and untrendy will not get super popular among journalists or trendsetters. The setting may also be a bit too cozy for the business crowd. In my opinion, you shouldn’t let that keep you away.
UPDATE: Now, after a few years in business, it’s a place with much more confidence, currently ranked #21 out of 2498 restaurants on TripAdvisor.

Opening hours Tuesday – Sunday:
Lunch noon – 3.00 PM; dinner 6.00 PM – 10.30 PM

Reestraat 28-30
1016DN Amsterdam
The Netherlands


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