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Clusi Batusi is a GEM! (And awesome for a pre-arranged party)

YUM.
After a few hounds mentioned it, we went for a simple dinner at Clusi Batusi a few weeks ago and were very impressed with the pizza (margherita), chopped salad and pasta (puttanesca). All were really fantastic.

I was quite surprised to see so many fish and meat dishes on the website but not the menu. We talked to the delightful young chef, Michele Gargani and his staff about that. They told us the location, and price-point, are pizza-pasta perfect but so far have not brought in too many customers looking for more creative cooking. Also, the set-up (very limited space, only one burner) makes it very hard to do the kind of cooking he is capable of without advance planning. So we decided to set-up a little birthday dinner for 8 diners - which was just wonderful. I really recommend doing this with him/them. In addition to several great pizzas (spicy meatball, the margherita and the San Gennarro) he made a beautiful salad, fresh whole snapper with his own fennel rub, delicious (moist, bursting with flavor) roast chicken and roasted potatoes.

It was really a great evening. Nice and quiet for 8 to talk. VERY inexpensive (please don't ask, I set it up but did not pay). Super high quality. Great staff and service. Nobody missed the expensive, loud, stuffy Italian we were planning on going to.

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  1. So glad you enjoyed it. =) Went there this past wk w/ a friend and, upon the rec of J.L., also tried the puttanesca. Really tasty, and surprisingly spicy. My partner had one of their red wines a few wks ago, and it was delicious (apparently the owner has a sommelier friend who works at one of the high-end restaurants in LA).

    For me, this has become my go-to place for inexpensive but tasty pasta. And I agree that it'd make a great place for a really casual party.

    1. The key to eating exceptionally well here is finding out about the off-menu specials. If you call 1-2 days ahead of time, Chef Michele can probably tell you what specials he'll be offering. Or, if you ask, he can whip up some awesome regional Italian dish for anyone interested. A few weeks back it happened to be penne all'arentina.

      BTW CB, I had the puttanesca there again a few nights back - It's considerably spicier than the last time I had it (which was 2 weeks back). Not necessarily a bad thing - It was still tasty as hell. Just thought I'd let everyone know.

      8 Replies
      1. re: J.L.

        Forgot to add: Roasted potatoes may sound pedestrian, but Clusi Bautsi's potatoes are probably my favorite spuds in L.A. these days.

        1. re: J.L.

          Really? Will have to try that.

          The puttanesca caused some, er, digestive problems after I had it. Worth the pain, though. ;) Waiter said it was in the style of "Rome" (said it was very tomato-y; don't know if the spiciness had anything to do w/ that).

          There was also an uni pasta when I went this wk. My friend said she really liked it.

          1. re: ilysla

            FYI: The potatoes come with the meat dishes.

            The uni pasta is a regular item on the menu.

            1. re: J.L.

              uni is put on cold after the pasta is cooked or is warm uni ????

              please say cold ???? maybe ?????????

              1. re: J.L.

                So, to get the off-menu specials, can you simply ask him when you arrive, or do you need to call ahead?

                kevin, I didn't get a big enough bite of my friend's pasta to see if the uni was hot or cold. It looked as if it had been mixed into the pasta (not the dough itself), so I assume that it was likely at least on the lukewarm side....

                1. re: ilysla

                  I like to call ahead, like 1-2 days ahead. Some dishes need the prep time.

              2. re: ilysla

                is the uni hot or cold ????

                if cold, then that's a plus for me.

              3. re: J.L.

                +1 - the potatoes were extremely delicious
                +2 - asking him what he wants to cook or telling him what you would like is a treat
                +3 - that putanesca is one hot bitch

            2. I really hope you finished off with some of their fine tiramusu. Easily one of the best I've had, if not the best.

              13 Replies
              1. re: soniabegonia

                i really hate you guys, the tiramisu is good too.

                i probably should just go there right now and set up

                the proverbial shop.

                1. re: kevin

                  I was thinking of doing the same thing. Uni spaghetti, pizza, tiramisu... and I can walk there! This has high potential for being my dinner spot.

                    1. re: J.L.

                      There you go.

                      JL, you are our main main for finding this place.

                      How many hounds, or rather patrons call this joint fill up ????

                      25 hounds ???

                      1. re: kevin

                        25 tops. Let's ask him to cook a special Italian feast and reserve the whole place for the 'Hound meet. Closed party.

                        1. re: J.L.

                          sounds great.

                          set it up.

                          or post a thread. :)

                          kind of like an omakase/kaiseki meal, but italian, and served family style ????

                          we can close the place down. maybe even $25 if it's spread across 25 fellow hounds.

                          1. re: kevin

                            Can we bring wine at least? Or do they have wine & beer?

                              1. re: Ciao Bob

                                But I think you can also BYOB/BYOW.

                              1. re: J.L.

                                That would be fun! Maybe I can actually make this one.....I'll try anyway!

                      2. Sorting out finer details for the Chowmeet proposal... Look for a thread later today dedicated to the topic.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: J.L.

                          Sounds great JL. Thanks buddy.

                          And by popular demand, I will have no part in the setting up of this event nor future events. :)

                          Thanks again. For some reason people are flocking to this event, which most be due to the JL imprimatur.

                          I will make one suggestion, after the event at Clusie Batoitie, I'll probably still be hungry and will be hitting up my tamagoyaki at where else but Kiriko.

                          1. re: J.L.

                            J.L. -- You need to find out exactly how many the place can seat. I've seen estimates above of as few as 25. You as founder have first dibs, then all other places should be determined by order of responses on the new thread. And there needs to be a prepaid deposit -- we don't want the venue or you or anyone to be shortchanged.

                            Note that 25 x $25 is (only) $625. Not a huge amount for a restaurant to open on an off day.

                            I do not mean to be a downer. I played a role in organizing the February chow meet at O'Brien's and I'm really glad we did it. I'd like to attend this one -- so add me as a +1. (And I'll guarantee my spot by sending a check.)

                            But space will be limited here if we are planning a one-turn sit-down dinner. And if even only the 'hounds that attended the previous event are interested, that is probably more than 25. So if this takes off we may be dealing with order of reply, a lottery, waiting lists, or increasing to two seatings (we haven't even specified afternoon or evening yet or considered which Sunday should be the date) or something more casual.

                            1. re: nosh

                              Again - await my thread.

                              I'm not sure who said $25 per person, but the downer is that the final tab per person may be CONSIDERABLY above $25pp for this high quality Italian feast.

                            2. re: J.L.

                              Still awaiting for reply on some details... Dedicated thread for this event is coming soon to a screen near you...

                              1. re: J.L.

                                Sorry. My
                                Bad.

                                I liked the idea of 25 seats at $25.

                            3. Honestly I have no idea how you can find this place good. The pizza is worse then Domino's and the rest of the food mediocre. The prices are for sure fair for everything on the menu but not for the specials. I paid $16 for a tomato soup coming straight out of a can.

                              1. Has a new thread been started up yet ????????

                                5 Replies
                                  1. re: Ciao Bob

                                    Oh, shoot. Ok, tell me how the event goes.

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      Don't let Ciao Bob mess with you kev. I actually haven't started the thread yet because (1) I am still in the midst of due diligence with the eatery, and (2) the mods wanted to instruct me on the fine art of arranging a Chowmeet, and (3) Russ Parsons from the L.A. Times keeps wanting to set up an interview with me.

                                      OK (3) isn't actually true. But (1) & (2) are: Stay tuned.

                                        1. re: J.L.

                                          Ok, but don't us hounds take precedence over Mr. La Times ????

                                          Just saying.

                                          and thanks again for setting it up.

                                          I'd get you an Ice Teller but it would melt by the time I got to Sawtelle. :)

                                  2. I wonder if Watusi Jenkins works at Clusi Batusi...