This week SIV awards two stars to the revamped, recheffed neighborhood Italian staple, Osteria La Buca on Melrose. Though the wine list could use some work and the menu offers both hits and misses, La Buca is at the best its ever been:
At La Buca, his menu resembles those of previous chefs in only this: It includes pasta and pizza. But because everything else is so different, including the quality of the ingredients, Osteria la Buca has to be considered an entirely new restaurant. And certainly a more interesting one with a farm-to-table philosophy...
...If you don't already know the restaurant, this may be the time to check it out. The food is more compelling and the space more inviting than ever...The menu is always changing, which is a plus, in the entree department avoid the Moroccan-spiced lamb ribs, and instead go with either chicken saltimbocca, roast chicken, or hanger steak. [LAT]
Jonathan Gold praises the banchan at Soban and considers a new marinated raw crab dish: "...Then the crab came out of the kitchen, two neatly bisected blue crabs, not transformed by rice wine, as is the norm, but by what seemed to be a soy-tinged distillation of the animal's juices, crabbier than the crab itself. When you sucked at a leg, the flesh pulled cleanly away from the shell, firm but not cooked, briny and sweet. The crab was nearly glazed with big clumps of roe. The carapace brimmed with musky juice — you spoon hot rice into the shell and eat it. The best single dish in L.A.? Hard to say. But a reason to keep Soban on speed dial." [LAW]