Harder, Better, Pasta, Stronger

Evan Funke gets hands-on at Culver City's Bucato

"This is all you need to make pasta," says Evan Funke, brandishing a long wooden dowel.

Boy, does he make it sound easy.

The former Rustic Canyon chef–a self admitted dough obsessive–trained for months in Bologna to master the laborious craft of pasta fatto a mano (made by hand).

On the second floor of Bucato, his new ultra-traditionalist trattoria in the Helms Bakery complex, Funke has built his own pasta laboratorio: a temperature-controlled, glass-enclosed room where rollers and presses are eschewed for old-fashioned elbow grease.

Don't worry, the results are worth the carpal tunnel.

From soft, squiggly gnocchetti tossed in vibrant green pesto Genovese ($14) to bands of tagliatelle smothered in creamy ragu bianco ($15), these lovingly sauced bowls are simple but decadent works of art.

Tomato focaccia (Photo: Scott Smith)

It isn't just that pasta that stuns, either: Puffy rounds of focaccia ($5) topped with roasted tomato and salt-dried olives achieve Mozza-level greatness, while a dense shelling bean zuppa ($15), fortified with roasted octopus and spicy nduja, delivers a double punch of umami and spice.

For dessert, pastry chef Zairah Molina, who worked alongside Funke at Spago, turns out an elegant orange-pistachio torte ($7) served with roasted peaches and basil ice cream.

You can't make everything with just a stick, after all.