As one of the only establishments in the U.S. that still practices the Bolognese tradition of pasta fatto a mano, L.A.’s Bucato restaurant is a lesson in the appreciation of old world simplicities.
Pasta is rolled daily by hand in the glass-enclosed “laboratorio,” which overlooks the dining area of this Italian eatery. Design firm Undisclosable gave the interior architecture a vertical focus, reminiscent of sacred spaces. “Like the choir, it’s elevated into a privileged position and is responsible for the delivery of Bucato’s most meaningful content,” explained Undisclosable co-founder Alejandra Lillo of the pasta lab.
“Although the origin of pasta is somewhat difficult to identify, most will state that it was roughly in the 13th century that pasta evolved into the definition we assign today. The notable architecture during this time was predominantly Gothic and religiously focused. Architectural elements generally existed to bolster the feeling that God exists, and God’s presence is immanent,” Lillo said.
Walnut banquettes feature tall tapering backs and Baltic birch inlays, a nod to the typical dark wood of church pews. Hanging in the double high space in front of the pasta lab as a chandelier are mattarelli (long thin wooden rolling pins used to produce the pasta), which are reminiscent of a pipe organ and help to draw the eye upward.
The verticality is also naturally inherent within the architecture of Bucato’s home: the iconic Beacon Laundry building, exemplary of the Zig Zag Modern Art Deco style which is known for its angular patterns.
The interiors and architecture also mimic the simplicity of chef Evan Funke’s cooking and ingredient choices, as they often call for no more than three to five ingredients. Similarly the material palette consists of five refined, vibrant, and compositionally balanced materials: birch, walnut, stainless steel, glass, and plaster.
Funke also employs very strict responsible sourcing practices when it comes to his food, which Undisclosable sought to illustrate with a large-scale knife installation. Reclaimed butcher knives identify the geographic locations of the local farms they are derived from throughout California, and a large meat cleaver identifies the location of Bucato in relation.
And while both the aesthetics and practices within Bucato bring everything back to basics, that doesn’t mean either are simple to execute.
“Despite the restraint when it comes to ingredient count per dish, the ingredients themselves are defined with an extreme precision, in their selection, preparation, and use. Evan’s process is extraordinarily refined and difficult. Undisclosable sought to draw these elements out and into Bucato’s architecture. Complexity and the uncommon weave through Bucato as thoroughly as simplicity and approachability.”