So about a month ago, I went to Osteria La Buca, a tiny but well-liked Italian restaurant on Melrose. The first time we went, we came without a reservation and was surprised to find that the 20 people (or so) seating could not accommodate our impromptu dining. The initial rejection only made me more determined to eventually return successfully. Hence on my next attempt, I called a week or so in advance to secure places. The voice on the other end of the phone was super Italian sounding, which I took as a good sign.
The area of the restaurant can pretty much be compared to the size of one's living room. This even includes the counter space, mind you. What limited wall space that was available, was adorned with black and white photos, altogether giving the eatery a quaint, hole-in-the-wall atmosphere. However, I was a little disappointed when the waiter asked if we wanted "LA river water", as to insinuate that free water was nearly a sewer equivalent fluid.
The entrees on the menu were divided between pastas and pizzas. For the fresh pastas, you first choose the type of pasta (the width of the noodles which ranges from linguine to pappardelle) and then a sauce, which determines the price. Here are the pastas we ordered:
From left to right: tagilatelle with fume, tagliatelle with vodka sauce, pappardelle with fume sauce and trenette with arrabiatta sauce. We also ordered a pizza with broccoli and chicken, but it wasn't particularly remarkable so hence the lack of photo. I had the vodka sauce pasta, which I thought was fantastic. The sauce was very good--creamy, savory but not too rich. The highlight was certainly the pasta noodles. Unlike dried store bought pasta, this counterpart was thinner and consequently covered more fully in sauce. Mmm. Though I didn't try all the pastas, everyone did seem content with their selections. For dessert, we succumbed to ordering th classic tiramisu:
The cake was very good. The taste of espresso was very bold, a plus in my book. Also, the ratio of the cream to cake was just right. We thoroughly enjoyed this treat--only to later find that it carried the unfortunate price of $9.
Finally, I can check Osteria la Buca off my "to eat" list! The pasta was truly first rate. Good, home made Italian need not be presently fancifully to be delicious, as this restaurant has shown. However, for as small as la Buca was, it was not as humble as it could have been. I will also mention that they only gave us half a loaf of bread for 7 people to share (which is hardly generous if you ask me). Will I go back? Perhaps, but not often.
Price: $14 a person for entree alone
Rating: 8.8/10 (Barilla ain't got nothing on fresh pasta)
Osteria la Buca
5210 1/2 Melrose ave.
Hollywood, CA 90038