Bucatini Carbonara at Osteria La Buca

Photo by Stephen Sakulsky
Photo by Stephen Sakulsky

Jason Neroni was a bit of a lone wolf chef for a while, bouncing around from city to city, trying out different cuisines and styles at various hot restaurants. For a time it looked as though Southern California had lost Neroni to the Pacific Northwest, but he returned in March, wood spoon in hand, ready to man the stoves and roll out the pasta at Osteria La Buca, an Italian restaurant that has quickly turned from neighborhood spot to destination dining.

One of the highlights of Neroni's menu is the carbonara. It's a simple dish easily elevated to higher planes, with the right technique and ingredients. Neroni, who loves the city of Rome and it's cuisine, acknowledges that his take on the dish may not be "traditional" (the egg is placed atop the pasta, rather than mixed in), but says that he saw a number of different variations of it in that city. So yes, you can call it authentic.

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Though spaghetti is generally used as the pasta in this dish, do make the effort to find bucatini. Another long pasta, this variety is thicker, and hollow, allowing the sauce to coat both the inside and outside of the pasta, for extra decadence. The recipe also calls for a 62-degree egg, but if you don't have the equipment or time for that, a poached egg will do - the dish will be practically perfect in every way.

Recipe below serves one. Multiply as needed.
1 serving of bucatini
1oz rendered pancetta
1 egg, cooked at 62 degrees Celsius for 58 minutes
3 tbsp mascarpone
3 tbsp Parmesan
1 tbsp cracked tellicherry pepper (or whatever black pepper you have)
Salt to taste

Chop your pancetta and render out the fat. Cook the 62 degree egg - the correct way if you're so inclined, or just poach it. Cook the bucatini for six and a half minutes. Place black pepper and mascarpone in sauté pan and begin to heat. Remove pasta from water, remembering to reserve a little of the water. Add the pasta and about an ounce of the reserved water to the sauté pan and cook over moderate heat until you have a nice creamy glaze. Place pasta in a bowl with the pancetta and the Parmesan and put the egg, still warm, on top. If you wish, garnish with more panchetta and cheese. Have fun with it!

Osteria La Buca
5210 Melrose Ave., 323-462-1900

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