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Osteria La Buca LOVE/almost HATE experience…

Ok, The food was great…the prices…hmm, a little f***ed -up.
Glass of Orvieto $9...not bad, since who else has this by the glass, (even though you can get a good bottle for $12) and this one was mighty refreshing and went well with my Ticolore Salad.
The Ticolore Salad was $9.25...thought is was good, until I saw that they charged me $2.50 for a side of anchovies, (they weren’t even salt packed) and they only gave me 4 and never mentioned the xtra charge and they never used to charge for them back in the day before the renovation.
So, the salad was pretty much $11.75 and the parm they put on top is not as good as it used to be…hmmm…not looking too good.
The Pappardelle Mamma really was amazing and worth every penny at $19.25 as a special (I did ask the price of the special, since I do not like surprises and sometimes specials can be pretty over the top-this special was well worth it!)…it was with the radiccio cream sauce with sausage and pork checks…amazing!
The pasta was perfect…flavor, texture, mmmm!
A glass of Merlot Dal Bello at $8 (was a great suggestion from the young man behind the bar) went well with the pasta special.
Now, this is where I am freaked out:
The Tiramisu was… $10 !!! Yes, $10 for a tiramisu...this is NOT normal, is it?
Are you F***ing kidding me?!?!?!!!
I didn’t notice it till after I paid!
At first, I thought that they had put the decaf cappuccino into the dessert bill, but, NO! They really charged $10 for it…F**K that!!!
(And then charged $3.25 for a cappuccino that had slightly chilly foam on top…hmmm.)
The tiramisu was a larger than usual serving, but I didn’t need a serving for 4...(if I wanted to go to Buca de Pepeo (or however you spell it, please, just kill me on the day I know how to spell it) and the Tiramisu was fine, but not worth more than $6-$8 and that’s the price I remember).
What the hell!?!
Now, I love what they did with the place.
The food is still good and the wine list is perfect for the food, and the selection is fun and thoughtful.
I had originally wanted to go to ORRIS tonight (I had a meeting in MDR and was driving back to the East Side) but didn’t want to deal with the parking at ORRIS (since I had a car full of backpacking and Kayak gear), was almost home when I saw La Bucca, and thought back to all the amazing meals I had enjoyed there with my friends back, before the rennovation, and wanted to see the “improvements”.
Well, I will go back because I love the pastas, and the wine list is great, but I will NOT be ordering any useless and over-priced nonsense.
The bar is comfortable as long as some bitter tarts aren’t sitting there NOT making room for others who want to sit in a seat…I am sure that they may be afraid that their super-cool boyfriends may run away with a girl that prefers to bathe on a daily basis.
I will not give up on this place since I have always enjoyed the food and tonight was no different.
I love that they have a bar now, but it was fun back in the day when you had to sometimes share a table with hospitable strangers.
Good food, but price surges in the wrong places...c'mon, it's not like you have to drive around the block for six hours in a H2, burning fuel, to get the tiramisu, so I just cannot justify the freakin' crazy price hike for an ok tiramisu!
Tell me what you've experienced since they re-opened.

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  1. I basically agree. In the past we spent $50 for two, although of course that was when corkage was free and we brought our own wine. Recently we tried it again and ended up spending more than $150. Granted, we had a nice $40 bottle of wine, but although the food was quite good, that's more than I can spend on a regular basis. And while the food is good, it's more like home cooking than the really creative, full-flavored Mozza type food. Inexplicably I managed to get out of Mozza for $130 for two. I know you order different things on different nights with different appetites, but it's hard to justify spending that at La Buca.

    1. I used to love La Buca. But ever since their renovation, I've been less and less and the experiences have been worse and worse. Their pastas are still great, but their bread is quite bad now and ordering a pizza is a gamble. And is it just me, or have they changed their menu now so that you cannot choose whatever pasta and sauce combo you want? I loved their gnocchi or tagliatelle with vodka sauce but the last few times I went, they said they only make the vodka sauce with fusilli. WTF? I have to say I preferred the old, tiny La Buca.

      10 Replies
      1. re: baloney

        They CHANGED THE BREAD!?!? Oh man, PLEASE tell me this ain't so!!! I haven't been back since the remodel was done, (we moved our office, and we're not close anymore, so it's now a "destination") and now I'm kinda wondering if I will go. I understand that they need to pay for the remodel, but still, $10 tiramisu?

        r gould-saltman

        1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

          super expensive, insane wait between courses, mediocre pizza. and i went w/ a CH'er who is a regular. did the expansion overpower the kitchen?

          i really wanted to like this place too...

          1. re: TonyC

            "... and i went w/ a CH'er who is a regular."

            Man up and call me out by name, TC.
            I can take it. <smile>

            At any rate, if you will recall, the night of your, ahem, single, solitary visit was particularly dreadful. The rain was coming down in buckets and the line of folks waiting to get in was very nearly out the door...


            1. re: Erik M

              I went last week and thought dinner was fine. While the bill came out to $150 for 3, we all split an app, a bottle of wine, and a dessert, so all in all I thought it was reasonable. I dunno, I still like it.

              1. re: SauceSupreme

                We spent $150 for two, so you're lucky to get off easier than we did. I have to say though that we did not experience any service or attitude problems like the other posters, and all the food was good if not life-changing. I kind of hate threads that are just the prices went up, whine, whine, but in this case, it seemed more abrupt and excessive than usual.

                1. re: Chowpatty

                  I think that the expansion was a decision to try and vault OLB into the same stratosphere as Mozza (with Paramount across the street, why not?) which unfortunately raises them to a higher level of scrutiny.

                  I haven't eaten upstairs but I think the main room is great, and I really like that table in the breezeway. No service problems either, and we were lucky enough to score a table prior to the second turn of the evening. While the price might have been on the high side, I still thought it was fine.

          2. re: silverlakebodhisattva

            Well, I wouldn't say they "changed" the bread, but it is a shell of it's former self. The last several times I've been, the bread has been wicked flat like the yeast didn't do it's thing, dull tasting, and often burnt and cold.

            Also, it's been a LONG time since I've gotten their tiramisu, but they charged $9 at lunch for a very small portion.

          3. re: baloney

            Oh, yep, forgot about the fact that I went in because I really wanted the raddiccio/cream sauce on something and they said they only had the sauce for the special...no longer can we choose....pain in the butt.
            I thought I would feel better about the experience this morning, but now I am only gettin more peeved about it...sh!t, the $10 tiramisu is really p!ssing me off!
            Oh, and the bread was never my favorite, but now it is really unbearable.

            1. re: tatertotsrock

              Their price point on certain things is a bit ridiculous, I also don't feel we got very good service there when we went a few weeks ago.

              1. re: Muhlyssa

                I rarely post but I felt I needed to pipe in. La Buca reminds me of the close childhood friend from the small town we grew up in. One day, to the town's surprise, 'Bukes' as we knew her, left us for the bright and lights and the big city. Upon her return, we could barely recognize her. This wasn't the Bukes we knew. She spoke different, wore an ostentatious watch and a handbag the size of an elephant's ear. She even smelled different. We grew up with Bukes and felt a little sad knowing that she wasn't comfortable with who she was. But, like all dear friends, we wish Bukes prosperity and success. It's just too bad we can't hang out like we used to.

          4. I too recently had a horrible experience at La Buca. This used to be my favorite local neighborhood italian joint. They now feel like they are on the same page with Osteria Mozza and Madeo. Are you joking me? So, about two months ago we went to La Buca on a Saturday with an 8pm reservation. We sat down upstairs which was nice, and intimate but that is where the civility ended. We proceeded to order our wine, appetizers, and mains......our appetizers came out and we waited.... and waited.....for the wine. We asked multiple waiters on the status of the wine and there was the response, "Ok, coming." We must have heard this 5 times. RIDICULOUS Do these people understand that the margins are best on the wine that is consumed on the check. We were served our wine well after all the apps were finished at the table.

            Now comes the best part, it is now about I would say 8:45pm, we did not receive our main course until 10:15pm. We were so irate we did not know what to do. We called over the manager (a brother of the la buca family) and explained the situation, that there were a few large tables who ordered ahead of us. After waiting an hour and a half for our meals, he said that he would get us an additional bottle of wine. We protested, and he basically told us to take it or leave it.


            1. wow,
              that makes the papardelle more expensive than the version at fraiche...and more than likely, more expensive than angelini osteria!!!!

              am i the only one who thought their pasta tasted like chinese egg noodles?
              i used to go there occasionally back when it was dead inside all the time, and when i worked at paramount, but with these changes theres really no reason to go back as the food is actually pretty uninspired...

              10 bux for tiramisu is insane, can just go down the street to providence and get dessert there!

              2 Replies
              1. re: modernist

                their service is really slow, even when it was a tiny little dining room. They need to work on improving the service operation especially since the size of the place went up by threefold.

                1. re: risottoman

                  They also have some serious attitude if your aren't gorgeous, tall, thin, or someone they know. (can you tell I'm short, fat and not someone they know?) I'll go west and get some love from Angelli.

              2. Damn, after hearing all of this I'm glad I cancelled my la buca reservation a few weeks ago.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ns1

                  sucks how good quality at a good price usually doesn't last.

                2. I've been a La Buca fan for a few years and was a bit nervous about returning on Monday because of this thread. There was no reason to fear.

                  Service at La Buca has always been a bit rough around the edges, but I have never found the guys to be rude or nasty in any way.

                  4 of us shared a salad, 2 pizzas and 2 pastas. We also brought 2 bottles of wine. Everything was delicious and fresh. The bill came to $103 before tip.

                  I do miss the days of that tiny room and the ridiculously cheap prices, but I don't resent them trying to make a living. The specials at LB have always been disproportionately high-priced compared to the rest of the menu. If you steer clear of those and stick with pasta and pizza you will have an excellent meal that is reasonably priced.

                  Give them a chance

                  1. I believe the restaraunt lost some of its charm during renovation. I used to go all the time prior, but just one bad experience in the new space and I am hesitant to return. The prices didn't seem to justify the food experience and the service was not so great - it didnt seem like we had a waiter, just people roaming around.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: SecretHeadquarters

                      Hubby and I LOVED the old La Buca. It was the perfect Friday night restaurant; low-key, great atmosphere, good value and consistently delicious food. Even the abrupt manner of the waiters couldn't put us off. But the new La Buca is a total disappoinment; we gave it two tries and we will not return. The great cosy atmosphere is gone, the prices are inflated and the love in the food has been lost. Simply put, it just wasn't fun. And for the same price (or less) you can get a spectacular meal down the road at Mozza. They have squandered the magic of a true LA gem.

                    2. We went for our first time to La Buca tonight and I have to say I will NOT go back. The food was one of the worst meals I've ever had in my life. The term bland would not describe the meal enough. Now I'm not sure if all Northern Italian should taste this bad and maybe I'm partial to southern Italian but I was not impressed. Anyhow I'm starving so I think I'll look in the fridge for something edible because if i wanted noddles, watered down ketchup and Vons hamburger meat I'd just make it at home myself and save 60 bucks.

                      1. Went last night and I will not go back. Indifferent service, bland food, and high prices. I ordered a duck ragu special and my friend ordered the bolognese, and when the server brought them to the table he could not tell one from the other. After trying both, neither could I. Noodles were fresh tasting, but the anemic sauces tasted nothing like the meats that were supposed to define them. A gorgonzola/endive/walnut appetizer might have redeemed a bad bagel, but was otherwise as exciting as veggie cream cheese.
                        Save your money and head to any of the actual Italian places in LA: Angelini, Mozza, All Angello, Terroni, hell, even Angeli Cafe.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: tookyt

                          Pre-renovation, I probably went to La Buca once a month, was a regular, knew Filippo and the others very well, and never had anything less than a fantastic meal. Post-renovation, I have been once period, and have no inclination to go again. Why would anyone, when they can drive another 2 miles west and spend the same amount at Angelini?

                          ma9e11an's post above completely nails it. Such a shame.

                          1. re: nimo

                            I too used to be a serious regular at the old La Buca and have not been since the early days of their new space(over a year and half?). But I have to say I'm not in agreement with the Angelini love I'm seeing all over the board these days. I went a week or so ago and had a terrible experience. The pizza was blandish and the pasta I had was barely edible, it was so undercooked. I didn't have time to send things back. But honestly, I was just shocked at the quality of the food because Gino was in the kitchen and the terrible terrible service! And I've been before and had a fine time with good service. I know it was probably an off experience but I don't have the interest to return. I'm really disappointed in the lack of great italian these days. I'll stick with Brunello's Trattoria where I get deliciously cooked pasta and wonderful service.

                            1. re: baloney

                              WOW! I love Brunellos... but never thought I would see it uttered under the same breathe as La Buca... the fall has been THAT bad... *sob!* But now where do I go for truly excellent gnoochi?!


                              1. re: Dommy

                                Give the gnocchi at Sprazzo a try sometime.

                                Sprazzo Cucina Italiana
                                1389 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024

                                1. re: Dommy

                                  That reminds me to ask, has anyone tried to gnocchi special on Thursday nights at Brunello's? I've always been curious but haven't been able to make it yet on a Thursday...

                                2. re: baloney

                                  In the couple of dozen times I've been to Angelini, I've had perhaps only one experience like you mention. It was likely an off-night.