Monday, February 12, 2007

Osteria La Buca 2: Electric Boogaloo

I happen to be the other half of that "we" that Steve described in his seemingly merciless review of Osteria La Buca. While I agree that La Buca's take on amatriciana was unacceptable (more on this later), I managed to enjoy our meal there much more than my husband did. Perhaps it was the thrill of a one-time, guilt-free carbohydrate indulgence or maybe it was the divey charm of that cramped hovel of a restaurant, but I'm not willing to write off our dinner as a disaster. After all, we had fun and, by golly, we had pasta.

Admittedly, I'm not the pizza expert that Steve is, but I found Osteria La Buca's "Jijo" pizza to be quite tasty with a light, well-seasoned crust that served as a thin pillow of yumminess cushioning a balanced combination of textures and flavors. My primary gripe with most pizzas (and one of the reasons, perhaps, that I don't cite pizza as a go-to comfort food) is that it's often just bland and starchy, the dough and mozzarella comprising an amorphous blob of whiteness. But not the Jijo. The smoky, salty speck provided a welcome burst of flavor (and color), enhanced all the more by a smattering of chopped walnuts and a drizzle of truffle oil. I thought it was earthy and delicious.

(On the other hand, the caesar salad was standard-issue mid-level restaurant fare, overwhelmed by a relentless flurry of parmesan coating absolutely everything in the salad bowl. But, as Steve might point out, that's what I get for ordering a caesar salad at an Italian restaurant in LA.)

As for the pasta, it comes down to the question of whether one prefers fresh or dry pasta. Steve rightly pointed out that, sometimes, dry pasta is better suited to the texture of some sauces. In the case of the fume pasta, the freshly cut ribbons of trenette made for a terrific complement to the creamy, but light, smoky sauce that reminded me -- a little -- of the essential flavors in the pappardelle alla fiesolana at our beloved Bar Pitti in New York. That same pasta in the amatriciana, however, was a complete misfire; the amatriciana sauce was downright puny, a watery mess that collected at the bottom of the bowl, leaving Mamma's noodles to shiver in the nude. It was so very sad, especially for my darling Stevie, who could get no satisfaction from that sauce, so reminiscent of V-8 juice, but studded with Bac-Os.

If ever again I get the urge to throw carb-caution to the wind, I'd be willing to give Osteria La Buca another shot. Wish me luck convincing the husband.


Steve said...

A "welcome burst of flavor and color" when compared with a stale tortilla.

Bon Vivant said...

The first time that I went to La Buca I really didn't like it at all - I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about - the cooking lacked skill. The second time that I went, you read the review, it was much better (with the exception of the bolognese.) I think that it depends on who cooks; but really it should be good all of the time no matter who is cooking.

Maxmillion said...

shivering, nude pasta -- LOL

Actually, that just makes me sad.

I don't care what Mario B constantly says about the Italian ethos where pasta takes centre stage and the sauce is merely the "condiment" -- I'm all about sauce and there'd better be plenty of it.

So I was pleased by the sauce-to-gnocchi ratio at La Buca when I devoured their fabulous tender gnocchi in luscious vodka pink sauce. getting. so. hungry. now...