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Jun 2, 2006 12:37 AM

La Buca.

  • j

Greetings hounds,

Kind of a hypocritical review coming your way. We had a REALLY fun evening tonight at La Buca (our first time). On the other hand, I cannot rave over all of the food. Started out with crispy calamari, which was a generous sized portion, and not strictly all "rings"- - -plenty of the tentacle portion. Crispy, tender- - -but a tad strong in the "fishy taste" department. We shared an order of a special of the day pasta. Trenette with mushrooms and truffle oil. This was really delicious. Our third item was a pizza with Mozarella, blue cheese, ham and of all things- - -an egg! Very nice- - -just not exceptional. Sorry to buck the other reviews I've read, but the crust was not anything to write home about. We live in Sherman Oaks, and the vibe change of being near Hollywood was a major draw. Dining in this intimate spot, right off of a fairly busy (albeit industrial) stretch of Melrose was indeed enjoyable. Spent the whole ride home though debating if we would return. I'm thinking that instead of La Buca, we'll probably return to Girasole, or La Luna on Larchmont. Regarding La Buca, they have a very generous policy of being able to tote your own bottle of wine to the restaurant, with no corkage fee. On the other hand, if you ask for water, they tell you that it is not the policy of the restaurant to serve "L.A.'s finest". In other words, if you want water, you have to ORDER water- - -as in 5 bucks per bottle.
Hope I haven't ruffled feathers in this review. Our wallet's weren't tapped out from tonights dinner ($54 for two), but as the late Peggy Lee sang- - -"Is that all there is?"


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  1. i think people need to have tempered expectations when it comes to la buca. your review is fairly written and level - and la buca fans can't be mad at that. i am fortunate enough to live super close, so i enjoy the spot if i don't have to guzzle gas to get there - i'm sure i would feel differently if i had to travel from sherman oaks.

    i'm surprised about your preference with la luna on larchmont, i've never tried but the buzz i get from the place (or even lack there of) does not certainly draw me there (or any other place on larchmont aside from village pizzeria and cafe du village, which are simply sentimental faves).

    2 Replies
    1. re: jaydee

      Regarding La Luna, I was there one time and I was part of a large group. I was impressed with 2 aspects of their menu. Inventive salads and superb risotto. The one I had, contained tender artichoke hearts. Girasole also is a restaurant I've visited only once. They prepare excellent soups and pastas. I remember leaving that restaurant thinking that the next time I would like to try their main dishes. Their antipasti seemed to be a little out of balance with the rest of the menu, dollar wise.

      1. re: JeffW

        I love Girasole and La Buca, but I'm also surprised you recommend La Luna. The first and last time I was there the food was spectacularly mediocre.

    2. I like La Buca too, I've had great service and a delicious appetizer of burrata, very fresh and nicely served. I think La Buca is suffering from the "if you are good, you must be citywide destination good," syndrome. It's a great neighborhood place, serving really nice food. It should be respected for that.

      Not every place aspires to be Spago. I've seen it time and again, where people hear that a little local place is doing good, and show up and then proceed to compare them to Restaurants they are not competing against. LA should have as rich a restaurant scene as NY or San Francisco, and it starts with places like La Buca. I hope they continue to do well and please patrons.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DanaB

        I think that your view is what my review neglected to say. If I lived in the neighborhood of La Buca, I believe that I would be a regular.

        1. re: JeffW

          Even though Girasole is also nearby, and similarly has no abc license and thus either way you benefit from the no corkage issue.
          With the expansion of Buca to the east, two bathrooms are being added, and a beer and wine license will be applied for, and then many things about the place may change - but patience in those regards will have to be the optimum word.

      2. A restaurant refusing to bring you a glass of water? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. I wanted to try the place, but have definitely changed my mind now.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Jeff

          I've been to La Buca several times, and have never had this problem with water. It might take awhile to get refills, but I've never been told that I can only get bottled water.

          That being said, it was there that I first had burrata, and now am in love. It is a great neighborhood place - no more, no less. If I lived a bit closer I'd go more often.

          1. re: jacinthe

            I've been dozens of time, and have got tap water whenever I wanted. Not sure what this is all about.

            1. re: NM

              they have had septic tank issues as of late . . . which may have lead to the tap water ban.

              1. re: blackbookali

                Maybe that's why their pasta tastes so great. And I thought a little olive oil and salt was all you needed to boil it with...

                1. re: NM

                  try beef stock, it makes for a more tender noodle - especially gnocchi.

            2. re: jacinthe

              We never had this water issue until a few mos ago - they blamed it on the construction. Hmmm.

              1. re: Megan

                A drag. I also wouldn't patronize a place with this policy.

                Sounds like they're starting their transition to the post-renovation La Buca, the one with no BYO, expensive water, and 'tude. In other words, destroying everything that made them special.

          2. t
            the spaghetti incident

            Not suprised at all. I found their staff to be very obnoxious actually. We never gave them a second try.

            1 Reply
            1. re: the spaghetti incident

              I used to be a huge fan of this place--my previous reviews will demonstrate this--but ever since the tall guy (Michael? I am bad w/ names) departed, service has gone downhill IMO. Usually it is passable, but at least for us, not very friendly. I asked what happened to Michael (let's call him that), b/c I always got the impression it was his family's business and he was the mgr, and the waiter was really rude to me. I said - where is he now? He replied, "Working," and laughed at me. I didn't care for that response, nor for the way he acted like my question was ridiculous.

              Anyway, the last time my SO and I went, there was a HUGE party there (given the size of La Buca) - 15-18 people - in an L shape and we were treated like 2nd class citizens. Obviously a large party like that takes over such a small place, so I don't think La Buca should allow parties of more than 8 or 10 unless they take the whole place. After all, it was a Friday. They would have been full w/ or w/o that party.

              We are now thinking we may just get takeout from La Buca. Because I do love their burrata/proscuitto, and as well as the homemade pastas. Just don't care for the treatment.

            2. I , too, used to love La Buca. However, the last time we went they did not have our reservation listed, gave us a table with a stern,"You must leave by 8:00" and had the "no tap water due to water problems" policy. HOw can you operate a restaurant without tap water?

              Very so-so food, too.

              Haven't returned...