In the old Hollywood days, movie executives would have power lunches; meetings where they would hash out ideas, sign contracts, negotiate deals. Now while most business isn’t so formal anymore with e-mails, video-meetings, and even long-distance globe-encompassing phone calls, there’s a local restaurant just a couple blocks down the street from Paramount Studios that channels that old-school power lunch charm; long lost in the oldens days of the Brown Derby.
For Hollywood lunch-goers looking for a change of scenery from their Kraft Service trucks or even the studio cafeteria, there’s Osteria La Buca. This small local Italian joint has been around for a few years, but just recently experienced a face-lift after Chef Jason Neroni (formerly of Porchetta and other great establishments) took over the kitchen. With a menu over-haul and a redesign, Neroni transformed Osteria La Buca into a rustic, yet elegant dining space that is filled with natural light, wood accents, and that industrial-chic look that is oh-so popular with designers these days.
Under Neroni, the restaurant has simplified the old menu (originally created by Mamma). While Mamma was definitely a master of comforting traditional Italian, Neroni taps into what’s beautiful about simplified preparations; utilizing seasonal and local ingredients as often as possible and relying on farmers’ markets to help dictate his rotating menu. The new Osteria La Buca may not be that traditional portrait of large-portions, Italian comfort foods that Mamma fans knew and loved, but for what it’s worth, La Buca is keeping things honest, exciting, yet simple.
A recent lunch found me noshing on an awesome meatball sandwich served with a side of gnocchi fritti. Moist and tender pork meatballs that were slightly dense and very flavorful were enhanced with a bright tomato sauce and served on very soft house-baked bread. The gnocchi fritti were out of this world. Potato dough, fried for a slightly crisp but very soft pillowy snack–seasoned with parmesean cheese.
Boyfriend decided to go with their P.L.A.T, which was a great sandwich that featured thick pancetta, lettuce, avocado, and tomato with a savory garlic aioli.
Of course this meal would not have been complete with a glass of wine. In this case, a glass of 2009 Casina Val Del Prete Barbera D’Alba ($13). Even their complimentary bread was very tasty…!
Overall, Osteria La Buca’s a great little spot for lunch or dinner. The price tag may be a little out of the normal lunch time budget, but it’s definitely a nice treat. They’ve also got a lunch special that includes a pizza, a glass of wine, and tiramisu for only $20. Reservations aren’t required, but recommended.
Osteria La Buca is located at: 5210 Melrose Avenue.