I love to catch up with friends and use that as a pretense to try new restaurants. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the company of my buddies, but I also enjoy EATING. Killing two birds with one stone is how I like to think about it. So when it was time to spend some quality time with LoMa-Linda, I suggested trying Osteria La Buca. I had heard great things about this place, but apparently it hasn’t been as amazing since “Mama” left. Who is Mama? I dunno, but apparently Mama makes all the good food and she decided to open up her own restaurant, Osteria Mama, which I will certainly be trying one of these days.
The place is two stories and we were seated on the 2nd floor. It felt like a cozy place, although I didn’t appreciate the fold-up nature of my chair. We started off with the calamari which looked delicious at the table across from us. It was lightly breaded and delicately seasoned, served with a marinara sauce and a creamy tangy sauce.
Surprisingly, or not suprisingly, we finished the whole dish pretty much. Was it the best calamari I had? Probably not, but it was solid.
We ordered the gnocchi alla boscaiola served with cream, peas, mushrooms, and ham. The gnocchi were just how I like them, pillowy soft and light. The sauce had a light sweetness imparted from the peas and subtle smokiness from the ham. I really liked the dish, but I don’t think I could eat it all by myself. 1) Gnocchi becomes too filling after a while 2) the cream and sweetness became a little one note after a while too. I could totally eat this shared, and paired with something bolder.
Behold, linguine di mare served with clams, mussles, shrimps, squid in a tomato wine sauce. I apologize for the blurriness but I was hurrying to dig in because there is nothing I love more than seafood and tomatoes. The linguine was so deliciously al dente. I dunno why my al dente at homes never ends up tasting like al dente in the restaurant. I’m sure they’re using fresh pasta, but still, I never get that right “bite” to the home-boiled pasta. The sauce was not overwhelmingly “tomato-y” and the seafood was abundant! LoMa-Linda chowed down on a lot of the pasta and left a lot of seafood for me to eat solo. The shrimp were a tad overcooked, but I never turn down shrimp! This dish was a perfect complement to the gnocchi. I could probably eat this dish in its entirety by myself.
We were pretty stuffed, but were persuaded by our server to get dessert. It was a trio of gelato flavors, figs, mascarpone cheese, and balsamic vinegar. Not exactly exciting flavors huh?? There were 3 scoops so naturally we thought each scoop was a different flavor. After seconds of nibbling, noshing, and palate swirling we thought they all tasted the same. Our server confirmed this and our confusion disappeared. The gelato was soo smooth, deliciously creamy yet light. I could eat the whole thing if I tried. Also there were bits of mint sprinkled throughout which I found a bright addition with flavor. It was like no gelato I’ve had before. The flavor and texture was soo unique. Mmm, I’m craving some right now!
I will certainly come back here if I’m ever craving affordable and solid Italian food. I would recommend this place for a nice casual date too. It’s not terribly pricey and the portions aren’t chintzy. I heard it can get crowded, so make your reservations (through opentable if you like *wink wink*).