Noodle Tuesday: Fresh Pasta at La Cucina
Trenette norcina (left) and vongole pasta (right)
La Cucina Italiana is like the little Italian restaurant you’ve always dreamt of, with just one person, ideally an Italian grandmother, running the kitchen.
Except instead of a spot in the base of the Italian foothills, it’s a nook at the bottom of a condo building. And the person in the kitchen is a young Vietnamese cook who studied business in college.
But what makes La Cucina so unique is that Don Truong makes all of his own pastas and prepares each dish to order, one plate at a time.
Hear the pounding in the back? That’s him flattening out the veal right before he cooks it and serves it to you. He is basically a one-man operation, in the same vein as Angry Korean Lady a few doors down.
Scan the Yelp reviews, and you’ll find raves about the food, with varying degrees of acceptance about the time it takes for it to arrive.
But nobody complains about the pasta. All of them are fresh and made in house; semolina in the dough makes them extra firm. Unique to La Cucina is trenette, a wide, flat noodle similar to tagliatelle, but with a slightly ruffled edge. It captures bits of sausage perfectly, as in the trenette norcina, with a deeply savory sauce of meat and mushroom. The hints of clove and star anise call to mind Chinese food, a reminder that spices—and possibly noodles—flowed from China to Italy for hundreds of years.
Truong also makes a tagliolini, almost like spaghetti but slightly flatter, with a bite that pairs well with tender clams in the vongole pasta.
But remember, dinner at La Cucina is best enjoyed with lots of time, just like a trip to Italy.
Pastas $12 to $21
La Cucina Italiana, 725 Kapiolani Blvd c112, 593-2626, lacucinaristoranteitaliano.com