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FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Go for the Pasta--Sardinian Style

April 11, 1993|LAURIE OCHOA

Over on Third Street, the people who run Zucchero have solved the problem of distinguishing their restaurant from all the other Italian places by emphasizing a regional cuisine that has yet to really be discovered here: Sardinian food.

The name (it means "sugar") and the blaring orange exterior would lead you to believe that Zucchero is yet another loud pizza and pasta cafe. But inside--if you ignore the fashion sense of some of the ponytailed members of the bar crowd--you'll find a comfortable and sophisticated restaurant. Though you won't find any hard-core Sardinian dishes--goat or stuffed snails, for instance--some of the best things on the menu are the Sardinian-style pastas. Malloreddus is pasta shaped like gnocchi , but made of flour instead of potato, here tossed with smoky hot sausage and tomato sauce. Culingiones are Sardinian ravioli, filled with ricotta and spinach, in a tomato-basil sauce. A variation, on special, was zucchini-filled ravioli, topped with shrimp, in a good, light saffron sauce.

Of course, there are familiar things to eat: veal milanese , lamb chops topped with herbs, nicely grilled prawns. From the polished-copper pizza oven come cracker-thin focaccia and pizza.

* Zucchero, 8338 W. Third St., Los Angeles, (213) 852-4868. Pizza, pasta and entrees $7 to $17.50.

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