You would be forgiven for following the trail of pigs to Bucato. After all, it was chef Evan Funke's Porchetta Truck that functioned as the precursor to his recently opened Italian restaurant in Culver City's Helms Bakery plaza. But as good as the pig-intensive portion of Bucato's menu is, it's the pasta that is the spiritual center of the restaurant. Not only is Funke a master sfoglino Bolognese, or maker of handmade pasta extraordinaire, but so is Kosaku Kawamura, the Tokyo-born pasta chef Funke met in Italy and brought to America. Look up, from your dinner of tagliatelle with rabbit sugo or gnocchetti in uni butter, and you'll see the windows into the upstairs pasta lab where Kawamura works, a temperature-controlled temple to the art. Look up again, and you'll see the pasta rollers that function as chandeliers and that — again — remind you of why you're here. Order one of the many, ever-changing pasta dishes on the menu and you will no longer need a reminder. These are frequently gorgeous dishes, but just as often their beauty is in their utter simplicity: strands of perfectly orchestrated pasta in basic, long-cooked sauce with only a dusting of cheese as accompaniment. Marcella Hazan would have been pleased. 3280 Helms Ave., Culver City. (310) 876-0286, —Amy Scattergood

LA Weekly