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Restaurant review: Osteria La Buca

Ah, Italian cuisine. Is there a better way to put a delicious accent on a day?

From the moment I stepped into Osteria La Buca I felt like I was in one of the restaurants I’d visited during my trip to Rome. You are immediately greeted by the servers— either Filippo or Ricardo, who are Italy natives. Plastered all over the walls are photos from Italian movies and a soccer jersey from the last World Cup. While I was there, I also saw radio DJ Adam Carolla.

All week, you generally have to make a reservation because it gets packed. There are just five tables— enough seating for 20 to 25 people. Once seated you are comforted by the sound of other peoples’ conversations. It takes the pressure off of you to make constant conversation.

La Buca is a family-owned restaurant. “Mama,” as she is called, is the cook, and her sons are the owners and servers. According to the menu, Mama will get upset if she is asked to change any of her sauces. Often, you’ll hear the servers yelling across the room at each other in Italian, trying to get things in order. It almost seems like you’re spending a brief moment as part of their family, and it’s a very nice feeling.

The ingredients are very fresh, like the cheeses used generously on many dishes. The cheeses have a very organic taste, full of flavor and quality, and next to no grease when melted.  I suggest you order the calamari appetizer, which is fried squid tentacles. It may sound terrible, but it’s the perfect combination of golden, chewy and crispy, yet hardly greasy.

La Buca’s pizza has amazing flavor, combining peppers, cheeses and tomato sauces. The crust is not too thick and not too thin— just right for those who are picky about their crust. If you’re planning on ordering on the fancy side, I suggest gnocchi, a round pasta made from potatoes. The kind I ordered, gnocchi verde, had spinach mixed in, and the sauce was a drizzling of olive oil and garlic. If you want to keep your order simple, you can go with the pasta with a meat sauce called Bolognese. It has a small amount of tomato sauce, mixed with large portions of ground meat. Pretty much anything you order at La Buca will be delicious.

While a bit pricey, usually $14 to $20, and inconveniently located on Melrose and Wilton near Paramount Studios, La Buca is a perfect place to have a friends-night-out splitting the bill, or a great place for a romantic dinner with your girlfriend or boyfriend. As a teen among adults, I felt equally welcomed, and was given amazing service. The servers made recommendations for the best food, not the most expensive, they were very fast even though there were five people ordering multiple dishes, and they were also attentive to our needs. I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone, but just remember to make a reservation!

Osteria La Buca
5210 1/2 Melrose Ave.
(323) 462-1900