99 Essential Restaurants 2014

Bucato

photo by Anne Fishbein

The newest culinary addition to the Helms Bakery complex, Bucato gives L.A. another option for stunning Italian food — and some of the most glorious pastas this city has ever seen. The restaurant’s roots go back to 2007, when chef Evan Funke studied for three months in Bologna under master pasta maker Alessandra Spisni. Bucato is the direct descendant of Funke’s Italian education, and in many ways a straightforward ode to Bologna’s food traditions. Aside from pasta, Funke’s menu features spuntini, which translates approximately to “snacks,” as well as vegetables, seafood and meat. Each of these sections holds its own pleasures: a delicate, lemony Dungeness crab crostino topped with lardo; a refined chicken cacciatore with its wild mushroom, herb and tomato components pulled apart and served artfully on the plate under a very good, woodfire-roasted bird; a live scallop crudo with a pert green-olive topping. You could eat a carb-free meal here and still be delighted. But really, a trip to Bucato without gorging on the delicate, gorgeous pastas is a wasted opportunity.

-- Besha Rodell