The Pasta Paradigm

Jason Neroni's Superba cooking

Italian food is the European cooking tradition treated most conservatively in Los Angeles restaurants.

Jason Neroni (pictured) worked in such a classical vein while in the kitchen at Osteria la Buca, but he's tossed aside that slavish fidelity since moving to the beach. His latest gig is at the newly opened Superba Snack Bar, which is owned by Paul Hibler of Pitfire Pizza, a pizzeria notable for not worshiping all things Neapolitan.

Superba has billed itself as a "postmodern pasteria," a dubious claim surely borne out of the inventive nature of Neroni's pasta dishes, which include carbonara made with smoked bucatini ($16), and garganelli with pheasant and kale pesto ($18).

Judging by the cucumber salad ($13), we think Neroni has a better shot at claiming to be a post-noodle pasta chef. Shredded into angel-hair-thin strands, the cucumber's cool crunch is offset by the dry crackle of puffed rice. Dressed with a Vietnamese-inspired vinaigrette and scattered with savory flecks of salted black beans, the plucky dish was more enjoyable as a summer "pasta" dish than other picks, like agnolotti with sweet corn and Dungeness crab ($18). 

Superba Snack Bar, 533 Rose Ave., Venice; 310-399-6400 or superbasnackbar.com