When we talk about great neighborhood restaurants, we mean those places you don’t ever have to worry about. You know the ones - you can just as easily walk in by yourself at lunch hour and cry over a bowl of pasta as you can with old friends at night to drink red wine and bitch about work politics. Either way, you know you’re getting good service in a comfortable environment, and you won’t be standing around long for a table either. Is the food out of this world? Probably not. But it doesn’t have to be. Everything else adds up to a tremendous experience anyways.
But what happens when the food is actually fantastic? You get Osteria La Buca - the Italian neighborhood spot where the pasta isn’t just great, it’s among the best in the city.
Located on that stretch of Melrose dominated by the never-ending Paramount Studios lot, Osteria La Buca's brick exterior, large neon “pizza” sign, and floor-to-ceiling windows make it feel like it belongs in an entirely different neighborhood. Inside, the ceilings are high, there's a large wall covered with chopped wood and used motorcycle helmets, and Tom Petty's blasting over the sound system. Sleepy, neighborhood pasta spot Osteria La Buca is not. This place is cool, and they know it.
When a restaurant tells you they make all their pasta in-house, use it as your guide. And by that we mean, order all the pasta you physically can at Osteria La Buca. We have no problem claiming the bucatini carbonara as a top-five pasta dish in the city. There’s also the short rib ravioli and the bolognese - both phenomenal. If you’re going to get a pizza for the table (recommended), the move is the guanciale. It’s a little spicy and a lot delicious.
Osteria La Buca also doesn't falter depending on what time of day it is. Yes, daytime can quickly become a Paramount power lunch apocalypse, but not in the way that makes you want to go home and call your mom. It's relaxed and not at all intimidating. Come in at night, and you have the first date or midweek-dinner-you-totally-forgot-to-plan spot of your dreams. The atmosphere is slightly more romantic, but tables are still easy to come by and nobody's taking anything too seriously. It's just pasta. Really, really fantastic pasta.
And that's exactly what makes this place special. Osteria La Buca is that go-to, neighborhood spot you always have in your back pocket, but with food actually worth leaving your own neighborhood for.
This is true nirvana. Perfectly cooked al dente pasta, pancetta, poached egg, and pepper. One of the best plates of pasta in LA. If you aren’t ordering this at Osteria La Buca, why are you even here?
Despite playing second fiddle to the bucatini, this is an absolute must-order. Our recommendation here is to share it with the table, as it is not a light dish by any means, and you're too young to die by food coma.
Look, there are very few ways to screw up a plate of ricotta, and Osteria La Buca definitely does not. The caramelized agave on top is all sorts of sweet heaven. This is the ideal way to kick off the meal.
This definitely isn't our favorite in town, and can sometimes be slightly overcooked. Luckily, there are plenty of other solid appetizers to choose from.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the pastas here, but La Buca’s pizzas are pretty damn good too. And this is easily the best one. With a heavy dose of fresno chilis on top, it’s got a kick to it, and you want it.
If you’re looking for a slightly less gut-busting pasta, this is your move. With a simple red sauce and no heavy add-ons, it might seem a little barebones compared to the other pastas, but your mouth will be more than ok with it.
This isn't a hit for us. The idea of combining both fruit and vegetables in a salad together is always a thrilling one, but this just didn’t come together. There are better appetizers.