A pasta maker at Bucato rolls out a “snake” from which smaller pieces will be cut and molded into pasta shapes. (Photo: Melanie Dunea)
When I think handmade pasta, I imagine someone in the window of a shop, cranking pasta out on a machine … but at Chef Evan Funke’s Bucato, in Los Angeles, handmade pasta truly means handmade — no machines allowed.
The technique is called pasta fatta a mano, and while there are a few wooden contraptions to help craft different shapes, the bulk of the work gets done with a simple wooden board and stick — and of course, two hands.
Chef Funke says a trip to Italy made him fall in love with Italian cooking. “Italians are funny,” he says, “because they’d never do anything to that food that’s going to impede on them having a good time. And their cooking reflects that.”
A pasta maker at Bucato rolls lengths of pasta dough against a garganelli board to create ridges. (Photo: Melanie Dunea)
The chef keeps to traditional Italian technique, but there are some traditions he’s happy to break. In Italy, the common perception is that pasta making is women’s work. “Pasta making traditionally is something that the ladies of the house will do,” he says. “Sit around the communal table, gossip, make some pasta for Sunday, you know? When I showed up in Italy, they looked at me like I had ten heads.”
When I visited Bucato, Chef Funke helped me try out my pasta fatta a mano skills on some homemade cavatelli (Want to try making pasta yourself? Try this recipe and lesson).
Playing with pasta dough and making a handful of pieces was actually quite a task, so I can’t even imagine how much work goes into making the thousands of pasta pieces that the restaurant serves every day. Luckily, the payoff is delicious.
Why Go: For one of the few restaurants in the country serving traditional pasta fatta a mano.
Where: Bucato is located in Culver City at 3280 Helms Avenue
Fun Fact: Planning a visit to Bucato for a great Instagram photo? Think again. Photography is “politely discouraged” by the management, and Chef Funke asks guests to refrain from using their mobile devices in the dining area. Bucato is also possibly the only restaurant in the country with a dedicated “pasta lab,” which is temperature controlled to match that of Bologna, Italy. Craving more Italian food? Check out my visit to Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn for a look at what many people say is the best pizza in New York City.
“Photo Tripping” is a video series from Yahoo Travel, hosted by renowned celebrity photographer Melanie Dunea (author of My Last Supper). Melanie takes us on a photographic journey with her as she visits America’s top cities, exploring off-the-beaten-path spots to experience the best tastes, sounds, and sights the city has to offer. Going on recommendations of her friends — chefs, celebrities and tastemakers, a couple of whom even come along for the ride — we uncover some truly special places, seen through the lens of a photographer.