Among the many excellent mash-ups in the food world, one of the simplest and most blissful is the affogato, the marriage of two of Italy's finest exports, espresso and gelato. The word comes from the Italian affogare, meaning “to drown,” and it's a pretty accurate summation of the dish, in which a scoop of ice cream is submerged, or close to it, in a shot or double shot of espresso. At Bucato in Culver City, chef Evan Funke feels very strongly about how things are made, particularly Italian things. Get the Spago-trained, L.A.-bred, Italy-obsessed chef on the subject of properly orchestrated pasta or porchetta and you'll be at his restaurant all day. Just imagine the thoughts he has about gelato and espresso. (An imperfectly made affogato, after all, can seem like a crappy milkshake instead of a blissful union of two art forms.) Thus Funke's affogato is a work of art: a demitasse filled with a single scoop of Nocino gelato, made in-house on Funke's PacoJet with Nocino, a walnut liqueur from Emilia-Romagna. At table, Funke will gently pour the espresso, pulled from the espresso maker he inherited from Kazuto Matsusaka's Beacon, the beans roasted up the street at the Conservatory for Coffee, Tea & Cocoa. You'll be given a spoon and maybe a moment of silence, well-deserved. —Amy Scattergood
3280 Helms Ave., Culver City, 90232. (310) 876-0286, bucato.la.