Plenty of Reasons to Love Osteria La Buca

Pork Meatballs, Calabrian Chilis, Almond Tomato Sauce

I’ll get right to the point. Let’s count the reasons, shall we?

Delicious, housemade charcuterie: Check. Fresh, housemade pasta: Check. Flavorful and tender-to-the-fork meatballs: Check. Tasty Neopolitan pizzas: Check. Former Porchetta and 10 Downing (NYC) chef Jason Neroni in the kitchen: Check.

Salumi: Chicken Liver Pork Pate, Porchetta di Testa, Terrina Campagnola, Whipped Lardo

I had the opportunity to try all this and more at a recent media lunch and came out glad that I played hooky devoted work PTO to doing so. Nothing is lost, however, on the starters. The ricotta croquettas topped with a touch of truffle honey haven’t lost their touch – still fluffy as ever - in the changeover. The excellent salumi that came out included a chicken liver and pork pate, porchetta di testa, terrina campagnola – and last, but certainly not least, a whipped lardo. I couldn’t get enough of that lardo, so of course I couldn’t complain when it also appeared on the lightly fried green tomatoes. But the meatballs! The meatballs! How unordinary they were, what with their flavor and texture. They were really divine. In between these bites were smoked and extra meaty olives and pickles as well as salted, pork fat almonds.

Parpadelle with Rabbit, Castelvetrano Olives, Porcini Mushrooms

Only after all of this did we really start lunch.

The pasta was delicious. Not oversauced, not too simplistic with just enough going on to keep things cohesive, interesting and more than enjoyable. The freshness of the angelotti, bucatini and parpadelle were quite as good as any I’ve had, with those pastas being made the same day in a specially designated “pasta room” (which doubles as a private dining room housing the chef’s table) just upstairs.

Feeling like a sweet-ish pasta? Go with the Sweet Corn Angelotti with Dungeness Crab, Lemon Basil and Butter. In the mood for a heavier variety? The Rabbit Parpadelle with Castelvetrano Olives and Porchini Mushrooms is also excellent. The Bucatini Carbonara comes with an irresistable poached egg and is seasoned with Marscarpone, Guanciale and Black Pepper, which gives this pasta a delicious kick.

Basil Ice Cream, Sauteed Strawberries

The pizza is delicious, though I must admit that my favorite tends to be the simplest variety – appropriate named “The Classic” at Osteria La Buca: Mozzarella, tomato, sea salt and basil is all you’ll find on this one. But the fennel sausage variety with ricotta, pickled jalapenos and garlic paste is also game. It all depends on what you like.

I must say, though, don’t forget dessert. Especially the refreshing Basil Ice Cream with Sauteed Strawberries. The Chocolate Budino with sea salt also stands on its own, and dare I say its simplicity gives Mozza’s a run for their money?

Osteria La Buca really is a delightful place to dine, with plenty of solid options. With its recent, refresher remodel setting the framework for Jason Neroni’s arrival, it’s apparent that they have aimed to step up their game. While I found the former La Buca warm and charming, it seems that Chef Neroni has tightened things up and dishes come out a bit more refined. Delicioso.

All food, wine and cocktails were hosted.

 

Tue – Thu: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
5:30 PM – 10:30 PM

Fri: 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
5:30 PM – 11 PM

Sat 5:30 PM – 11 PM
Sun 5 PM – 10 PM

Osteria La Buca
5210 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
323.462.1900