It turns out that many of L.A.'s notable kitchen workhorses are really just dreaming of the day they can make their own pasta. Recalling the latter-day leads of chefs like Jason Neroni, Victor Casanova, and Alex Reznik, recently liberated Rustic Canyon chef Evan Funke is taking the former Beacon space in the Helms Bakery complex to open Bucato, which the L.A. Times calls a "pasta laboratorio."
The Culver City space used to serve as a laundry, and Funke explains that the name "Bucato" insinuates the ancient way of doing the wash by hand and drying it on the line, something to consider as he revives the bygone pasta-making skills he studied at La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese
Betty Hallock reports that this 100-seat restaurant will include "a temperature-controlled, glass-enclosed pasta lab" where Funke's visiting Sfoglino**, Tokyo-based Kosaku Kawamura, will assist him in executing a menu of ten handmade pastas, tapping into the team's knowledge of roughly 300 shapes. In addition, the duo plans to break down whole animals and bake their own sourdough bread with the chef's carefully tended starter. Funke will also employ a spit for making tronchetto di porchetta and wood-roast whole fish like Morro Bay sardines and other goodies like lamb chops.
A dining room of reclaimed wood, attached to two patios, will be soft on noise for Bucato's mid-December debut, as the chef is pulling the thoughtful move of having some sound designers advise on the place to keep the din down.
All in all, terrific news from an honored local chef. Bucato sounds impressive, especially considering Funke could have made a fortune with yet another chef-driven burger chain. Speaking of which, maybe we should have predicted Bologna was on his mind when he merged his beef with ragu on a burger back in 2010.
In any case, with a restaurant of this kind of ambition in Culver City, who really needs a Rao's? This is the real Italian we can't wait to experience come winter.
**Earlier we'd written that Kawamura was Funke's partner in Bucato. More correctly, he is a pasta maker lending his talents to the restaurant on a planned short-term basis.