Bacetti looks like a charmer. This California-chic Italian restaurant is attached to the lovely Echo Park wine bar Tilda, and its wood-framed dining room feels like a posh ski lodge from the ‘70s. The curved banquettes are typically filled with people who make boiler suits look cool. But look past its effortlessly hip Eastside aura and Bacetti’s charm starts to fade. An uneven menu of Roman-inspired small plates, pasta, and pizzas makes the place feel like a lava lamp that just won’t flow: it’s fun to look at, but you know it isn’t working like it should.
Let’s start with what is working at Bacetti. With its worn wooden floors and low-lit atmosphere, it feels warm and lived-in—as if the place has been around for decades (instead of 2021). The sprawling indoor space is great for big groups and the idyllic sidewalk patio would make for an objectively stunning date night. Plus, their pull-apart rosemary focaccia bread is salty, sweet, and flaky in all the right ways.
But with so much attention paid to these high-style dining areas, Bacetti’s food is an afterthought by comparison. Nothing is downright terrible, but menu descriptions read way more ambitious than they taste, and there’s little that stands out in terms of interesting techniques or exciting flavor combinations. At a place where it's easy to spend over $100 per person, there’s not much value beyond a pleasant dining room. And it doesn’t help that most of the bottles on the wine list are marked up three to four times their retail cost.
Of course, Bacetti can still be pleasant, if you order a couple of reasonably priced bottles of wine, snack on fluffy focaccia bread, and round up some friends to split the tab. But in reality, there’s better Italian food in the area. You could drop by Alimento for a plate of agnolotti under globe lights or visit Antico Nuovo for a sexy date night. Despite its buzzy dining room, Bacetti is for the most part a pricey venue for mediocre pizza and pasta. You’re better off having wine and cheese at Tilda while admiring Bacetti’s crowd through the restaurant’s big glass window.
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Bacetti’s caesar is aggressively average. Despite its beautiful plating and blanket of grated parmesan, most of the little gems taste like they have never heard of dressing. And even the few pieces that do have could use some salty anchovy or a sprinkle of pepper.
Sad. Soggy. Sorry. All of these words could be used to describe this overcooked mush of a pasta dish. You’ll have to hunt for a lonely piece of guanciale under a pile of lifeless noodles—not even the pecorino sprinkles on top can save this from being a total miss.
Bruschetta Carne Crudo
Pros: It’s a solid version of beef tartare on flavorful house-baked bread. Cons: you can’t enjoy the quality of the beef because it’s overpowered by too much spicy mustard aioli and a heavy-handed dose of garlic.
This round, tall loaf of carb-y goodness is the best thing on the menu. It reminds us of a flaky popover topped with olives, rosemary, and sea salt.
Pizza Fumo Di Parma
We like a brick-oven pizza with crispy, burnt edges, but this one is straight up dry. The crackling crust could use a brush of olive oil. The smoked mozzarella is mostly missing in action, making occasional appearances under slabs of salty prosciutto. And the treviso is served tough and overcooked, giving the whole pie an overpowering bitterness.
photo credit: Dylan + Jeni
Although it was firmly undercooked, this was the only pasta dish we might consider ordering again. The slightly spicy tomato sauce is great and there’s lots of guanciale snuggled inside each pasta tube.
There’s nothing terribly wrong with this tiramisu. It has a decent flavor from the coffee-infused cream. But by the time you reach the three layers at the very bottom, it’s all a bit soggy. You’re not missing much if you pass on this dessert.