Dear Mr. Gold:
You would think, after all this time, that somebody would make a decent spaghetti alla carbonara in this town, but although I have run across good enough versions of trenette al pesto, bucatini all'Amatriciana, even tortellini in brodo, the dish, which is done perfectly in even the meanest quarters of Rome, may be as defiled here as a Pieta tagged by an anarchist. See Rome, then die? Not this year. I want to find it a bit closer to home.
–Mrs. H., Playa del Rey
Dear Mrs. H.:
I feel your pain. Spaghetti alla carbonara is no place for cream, or peas, or balsamic, or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, or smoked American bacon, or really anything but good pecorino, cubed guanciale, crushed pepper and raw egg yolks. I am particular enough about the carbonara I make in my own kitchen to have stuffed vast wheels of Tuscan pecorino under my seat on flights home from Italy, and to have acquired the relevant meats from sources distinctly not endorsed by the feds. (Imagine a bootlegger dealing in cured pig cheeks instead of Cuban rum.)
You can find the good stuff in Los Angeles now — the Boccalone pancetta sold at Cube and the Colonnata guanciale at Guidi Marcello, respectively — if you want to make your own version. Or you could head to Angelini Osteria, whose owner has been known to make his own guanciale, and where the dish, served at lunch, almost comes up to Roman standards.
Angelini Osteria: 7313 W. Beverly Blvd.; (323) 297-0070.