This week Jonathan Gold gives his take on Uovo, Santa Monica’s new fast casual pasta restaurant by Sugarfish co-founders Jerry Greenberg and Lele Massimini. The affordable, almost assembly-line format of Kazunori Nozawa’s sushi restaurant is reformatted to pasta, with a menu of pasta and vegetable dishes, all with sub-$20 prices.
The Goldster recaps the extremely streamlined restaurant experience:
Are there appetizers? There are not. You order a plate of pasta, maybe a plate of nicely roasted string beans or broccoli, and you get on with your day. Uovo serves neither bread nor salad, fish nor meat, coffee nor dessert.
The pasta plant is in Bologna, so there are tortellini — tiny, floppy dumplings stuffed with ground meat that is a little dry but flavored nicely with cured pork — either in chicken broth or a thick cream flavored with Parmesan cheese; a crusty green lasagna, the rich kind with béchamel; or tagliatelle with a meaty Bolognese ragu. [...] One will be your favorite. None will be bad. [LAT]
However, the real star of the show is the tonnarelli all’Amatriciana, which J. Gold says “is almost distressing to admit” that it may be the best in LA:
The tomatoes in the sauce are puréed, which I hate, but they are nicely reduced, and the guanciale is aromatic and crisp in a way I can’t quite figure out. The sheepy hint of pecorino cheese is sharp but not overpowering. The funk of the melted fat perfumes the dish without overwhelming it. And the pasta — the handmade, square-cut spaghetti called tonnarelli, flown in daily from a kitchen in Bologna — is just two steps short of magnificent, a bit softer than you might expect but still wriggly and alive, absorbing the sauce without becoming soggy, with a vibrant, wheaty flavor of its own. [LAT]
Ultimately, the Times critic seems to endorse the restaurant, and certainly makes Uovo out to be a handy place to get a quick pasta fix.