Osteria la Buca in Melrose

Osteria la Buca

There are Italian-Style restaurants and then, there are the real thing: the Trattorias of Venezia or Roma or Firenze. We found one of those authentic Italian restaurants along Melrose Avenue called Osteria La Buca and it's terrific.

Holding down this very popular retreat are its owner, general manager, and sometime waiter, Filippo with a staff of the smoothest Italian servers and his mamma, Loredana, cooking up a storm in the kitchen. The restaurant has recently moved to bigger quarters next door to its former location which will be renovated, enlarged and refurbished to accommodate the growing crowds who had discovered this four-year-old gold mine. They were closed for two weeks in January to enlarge the kitchen so mamma can turn out even larger quantities of her superior pastas, panini and pizzas. Lucky us!

We arrived at 6:00 p.m. on a Sunday evening and were seated at the last available table near the entryway and the door never stopped opening and closing during our ninety minute visit. And I thought Pizza Mozza was popular.

The menu is three pages long and includes that evening's specials; a second page of Antipastis, Insalates, Pastas, and Secondi Piattis; and a third page of eighteen pizzas. Do try a little from each page!

On page one we selected the Capesante: three large scallops sautéed and rolled in bacon over a bed of mushrooms and artichokes.  Cooked to perfection, this dish will get the smiles on your face quite easily.  Mama's Zuppa de Ceci (garbanzo bean soup) is guaranteed to keep them there. It is a blend of not-too-thin, not-too-thick garbanzo beans in a mellow broth.

From page two we chose the Mista Salad which is a very large bowl of mixed baby greens, tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers in the lightest, smoothest lemon dressing. "Delicious" doesn't do it justice.

Her Tagliatelle Bolognese may well be the best in Los Angeles for it is prepared al dente and the ingredients are about the tastiest I have ever eaten:  a blend of pork, veal and beef in an exquisite tomato sauce.

Those of you who read my reviews know how mad I am about pizza. So far, it's been a tie between Caioti and Pizza Mozza. Well, you can now add Osteria La Buca to the list. The "Caruso" prepared with sausage, mushroom and shaved parmesan with tomato and mozzarella is outstanding – melt-in-your-mouth good. That's on page three.

Only tiramisu was on their dessert list and it's large and gooey and good. Their coffee is great and is served with warm cream to keep the heat in, just like I remember it from dining in Italy.

Mama speaks no English and she really doesn't have to. And you are hereby reminded not to get Mama upset by asking her to change her sauces. One other reminder: Please tell 'em Giuseppe sent you…Buon Appetito!

Osteria La Buca, 5210 Melrose Ave, Hollywood CA 90038, Tel. 323-462-1900, Open daily, Dinner for two – Approx. $50 w/o alcohol. For more information, visit www.osterialabuca.com