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The food chef Bruce Kalman is cooking at Union in Old Town Pasadena is an ode to Italy through a Californian lens. Most of what's on offer here is produce-oriented, and the best bites of food often are simply tried-and-true combinations done right: Sweet summer squash jumbled with dusky sage, or an asparagus salad with walnuts and pecorino, tossed with artichoke leaves and topped with a fried duck egg. The chef's pickle prowess is on display on the charcuterie plate, which features a number of delicious vinegary morsels, along with a selection of house-made salamis and pate. Kalman also is making all the pastas on-site, and he's doing a fine job of it. The noodles in a braised lamb lasagne were both delicate and hearty enough to stand up to the heavy meat filling, and the spaghetti alla chitarra, bathed in a sprightly puree of San Marzano tomatoes, had the exact right amount of chew and heft to support the zing of its sauce. -- Besha Rodell

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