Category Archives: meatballs

Meatballs (Osteria La Buca, Los Angeles CA)



The décor at Osteria La Buca is charming and warm for an urban conversion, with high ceilings, exposed steel beams and brick walls. The interior blends simple sophistication into an overall feeling of a neighborhood joint and since that part of L.A. doesn’t have many, it’s a nice feeling to be there.  The place has three dining sections: two downstairs and one upstairs. The little front garden room where people want to sit most looks to me like a sad terrarium or after-thought of a smokers’ lounge in a forgettable foreign airport. You’re too close to the neighboring tables, which is OK if the food is stellar. It just depends if you like that room enough to sit close or if you have the L.A. gene that requires you always be seen. I prefer the front wraparound area downstairs, which feels more like  a bustling neighborhood cafe.

The all-Italian wine list is a nice touch, but most diners would need some waiter assistance with selections from a list of grapes and blends uncommon to the typical American palate. Unfortunately, my waiter at Osteria La Buca automatically pushed the most expensive glasses to us. I knew two other choices were equally good and about half the price, so this was a bad takeaway. Pushing higher priced menu items without consideration for the customer is just a pet peeve of mine regarding restaurant service. Hopefully, that guy’s not working there anymore.


The most recent night I dined at Osteria La Buca, meatballs were a special appetizer. They were excellent and perfectly cooked, the way an ancient family recipe warrants. It was a bit odd that the meatballs didn’t sit on, say, some polenta or something to make the appetizer a bit heartier. But the meatballs properly hit the spot nonetheless, with fresh-baked crostini to soak up the ruddy marinara sauce.

Meatballs, Osteria La Buca, Los Angeles


THE DAMAGE: about $14


5210 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles CA

Phone: (323) 462-1900


Meatballs (Roasted Veal Meatballs, Town Hall, SF)

The Dish: Roasted Veal Meatballs

There are meatballs that are forgettable (Chef Boyardee, and his ilk in many mediocre restaurants), and those that inspire drool when remembered. The roasted veal meatballs at Town Hall in San Francisco are the drool-y kind. Creating meatballs with veal instead of the more traditional pork-beef blend was inspired, and ladling rich peppercorn gravy over potato puree instead of pasta pushes the dish to perfection. This meatball dish is fantastic, and just one of many reasons I love Town Hall.

Roasted Veal Meatballs, Town Hall SF
Roasted Veal Meatballs, Town Hall SF

The Damage: $12

This is a high-value appetizer for the price. It’s rich and complete, a generous portion that’s great to share.

The Grade: Awesome (5 out of 5) 

The Skinny: Town Hall

342 Howard Street, San Francisco CA 94105

Phone: (415) 908-3900


Lunch weekdays, 11:30 to 2:30

Dinner nightly, beginning at 5:30 pm

Town Hall on Urbanspoon