By Raymond Bill

Most restaurants featured in this column are places that I have reviewed after one visit. To be fair, it would be best to visit a restaurant more than once to get an accurate depiction of what they are about. Because any restaurant can have an off night (a steak gets overcooked, a server spills a beverage, etc), I make an effort to highlight the very best that each restaurant has to offer, forgiving minor imperfections and focusing on the whole experience. It is part of being a “good guest,” but that is a subject for another article. Bucatini Trattoria is a restaurant that I have frequented many times for both lunch and dinner and it has been consistently delicious!

Recently, my girlfriend and I took her parents to dinner to celebrate their anniversary. We dined on their heated patio for the first time and I have to say that each experience is better than the previous. The menu features classic Italian favorites from lasagna and spaghetti while showcasing house specialties with tender veal and fresh seafood. Salads and appetizers are generous in portion and pastas are always a perfect al dente! On this visit we would share their Mele Salad of fresh arugula with apples and crisp pancetta, crunchy walnuts and crumbled goat cheese. Certainly a modern approach, this salad is well presented and large enough to share. Other favorites of mine include the Italiana and Panzanella salads.

We had all agreed that we would be fulfilling our pasta cravings and we were sure to order a variety. As a seafood lover, I ordered the Tagliarini Crostacei, a large serving of linguini pasta and shellfish to include lobster meat and lobster tails, snow crab claws, and scallops in a spicy white wine sauce with cherry tomatoes. This was a huge portion for less than $20. My girlfriend would share with me her Taglietelle Verdi Tartufati; a long flat spinach pasta, similar to fettucine, with wild mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, and onions in a white wine cream sauce with truffle oil. Both were rich in flavor and beautifully plated. Our guests would rave about their pastas as well, the Bucatini Broccoli and a classic Bolognese prepared with Bucatini pasta in place of the recommended papardelle. Fortunately the chef is humble enough to make minor changes like this. In many restaurants, the chef will refuse to make any modifications, regardless of how minor they may be, as their egos are grossly inflated.

Desserts are presented on a tray to include all the traditional selections. I have yet to have enough room for dessert, though I have promised that my next visit will begin with dessert!

Bucatini is my favorite lunch venue, offering incredible Paninis, and pizzas from their wood burning oven. Our favorite Panini is their Triolese with Thin sliced Speck, melted Brie and Swiss, and radicchio. These Italian sandwiches are served with fries or a salad for $10 – $13. I cannot tell you which pizza is my favorite but it is either the Salsiccia (Italian sausage, mushrooms, roasted peppers and gorgonzola) or the Quattro Gusti (Parmacotto ham, artichokes, mushrooms and mozzarella). Pizzas ($10 – $13) are individually portioned but I can never finish one.

Whether you are looking for a great place for lunch or dinner, Bucatini Trattoria is casual and a great value! Located at 46-660 Washington Street in La Quinta, Bucatini is just south of Hwy 111. Visit them at www.bucatini.biz or call for more information 760-777-9007

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