In addition to a streamlined new look, Melrose-and-Western neighborhood favorite Osteria La Buca is getting a streamlined menu courtesy of new executive chef Jason Neroni, an Orange County native known for his cooking at Brooklyn's Porchetta and Manhattan's 10 Downing Food & Wine. (He's also known for sending an email, something of a New York tempest in a teapot, soliciting nominations for a James Beard Award.)
La Buca, a “bastion of new-generation Italian comfort food,” has been without an executive chef since Alberto Lazzarino relocated to Italy with his family a couple of months ago. The restaurant closed last week for the revamp, but will reopen on April 6th, with new dishes being rolled out incrementally in subsequent weeks. Look for house-made salumis and pastas as well as pizza, sputini and porchetta. The overhaualded bar menu will feature more Italian-style cocktails, a popular theme among the newest wave of L.A.'s Italian bars and restaurants (see: Bar Toscana, Sotto).
Osteria La Buca's wine list will also expand to feature not only beyond Italian varietals to include California wines, featuring the restaurant's own labels, Veritas, a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet grown, as well as a Malvasia, both of which are produced in Paso Robles.
This is the second major expansion for Osteria La Buca, which opened in 2004 as a tiny, 20-seat eatery. A few years ago, it expanded into the adjacent store. Now, owner Graham Snyder is simultaneously making the restaurant larger while trying to bring the menu back to basics.
Neroni has done stints in the kitchens of Chez Panisse, Spago, Le Cirque, Tabla, Blue Hill, The Tasting Room and at three of Alain Ducasse's restaurants: Essex House (New York), AD Louis XV (Monaco) and AD Champs-Elysees (Paris). Most recently, he was cooking at saucebox in Portland.