The old Il Buco space on Robertson Blvd, owned by Giacomino Drago, is now A1 Cucina Italiana, a restaurant celebrating rustic dishes from various regions of Italy. The restaurant is named after Italy's first highway, Autostrada 1, and run by LA restaurant veteran Danilo Terribili and chef Freddy Escobar who has worked for him at other restaurants including Alto Palato. (Terribili is a photographer too and the restaurant is decorated with his works.)
|Danilo Terribili and Freddy Escobar|
A1 has some pretty unique offerings that you can find in the daily special menu. There's porchetta on Saturdays, oxtail stew on Tuesdays, and veal kidneys on Sundays. If you like tripe, you really have to go on a Monday and get their Trippa alla Romana (stewed beef tripe, tomato, herbs, and pecorino, $17) - the picture below shows half of the regular portion as your waiter would actually divide and serve the dishes on your individual plates
My staple order at Italian restaurants is the pappardelle with lamb ragu. At A1 this is done Neapolitan style with the lamb cooked for hours then shredded ($16) - again, the picture below shows half the portion
|Swiss chard ravioli in sage butter sauce|
For dessert, you have to try the Zuppa Inglese. This is a dessert I have not seen anywhere else before, but if you like tiramisu you will love this. Although the name meant "English soup" the dessert is actually a homemade pan di spagna with Alchermes liqueur (a hard-to-find Italian herbal/spice liqueur), cream, and chocolate ($9)
You can get good wines for under $10 a glass here including a Negroamaro from Puglia for $8. They also have a couple of nice beers and pairing suggestions (they suggest Allagash Dubbel with the pappardelle). The location being what it is, A1 is not a place you would randomly walk into, but their daily special menu would keep me coming back. I still have to try the veal kidney, for one, and I'm already looking forward to a Monday night with a bowl of trippa alla Romana and a zuppa Inglese to finish.
Read SIV's LA Times review of A1.
A1 Cucina Italiana
107 N Robertson Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Disclosure: this meal was hosted