Review: At Bulgarini in Altadena, a gelato master tries his hand at pasta


Um…hasn’t Leo been making pasta at his shop for at least 4-5 years? I learned about this all from the good folks here via Chowhound.
So pleased for Leo! Looks like he’s on the path to being “discovered” by the general population. Any meal with him is a delight.


Would you want to have this combined with this still recent thread?

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interesting that a review ostensibly about pasta only has one paragraph about pasta

His cooking is centered around clean, classic Tuscan-style pasta dishes, made with ingredients that are neither magnified nor perfected but simply allowed to exist. There is a lovely pici all’aglione , a swirl of long, plump, hand-rolled noodles served in a tangy tomato-garlic sauce. There is what Bulgarini calls his signature dish: pappardelle al cinghiale, a mild egg noodle pasta bolstered by an earthy ragu of wild boar. There are very tender potato gnocchi, super-saturated in a thin, bracingly fresh basil pesto; a bowl of spaghettini in a brilliant lemon-butter sauce; and tagliatelle, smooth and wide as a belt, lathered in a basic yet satisfying red-sauce sugo.

Be careful, Escarcega and Addision are reading every word of what goes on around here.




I wasn’t fond of the title, either. She spends more time talking about the experience of dining on the Chef’s Table menu.
I just didn’t appreciate how she makes it sound like he’s only been doing it for a short time…like it’s a new thing. I would have rather loved a nod to JGold for really leading the public to Leo.


This gets back to my point about about Addison calling Jitlada Thai Town “defining.”
They could do a little more research and be more respectful of our history. Still I enjoy them both.


Are they really? If they were, I’d think the content of their writing would include some respect for the history you referred to. I understand that FTC folks might not be the be-all and end-all, but there’s a lot of solid information and experience that’s more than useful here.


perhaps, but then you run the risk of appearing to plagarize someone else’s efforts. it’s a difficult balance. and it may well be that a fresh perspective may reveal things we’ve taken for granted or even overlooked.

What a difference a piece in the LA Times makes.
Some friends wanted to try it out, and so I booked a Chef’s Tasting Menu for our group of 7. Walking in at 7PM on a Saturday evening and there’s an immediate difference…there was a ton of people in the dining room and most buzzed about Patricia Escarcega’s article. By 8PM, every single seat was taken with some ordering just pasta and focaccia or a select few going full gamut and doing the Chef’s Tasting like us.
Also notable is that Leo has help now. He has at least 4 more people in addition to his sous chef in the back kitchen helping with front of the house and some assistants doing double duty taking care of table service and kitchen prep.
Dinner was fantastic as always. We had focaccia, an appetizer (instead of the soup, we had a sheep’s milk ricotta with prosciutto and fresh tomatoes), 2 pastas (gnocchi and cinghiale pappardelle), 3 supplemental dishes (lemon panko-crusted scallop, ginger-soy ahi, and braised short rib) and an interesting intermezzo (a pear popsicle infused with rose, rosé, blood orange, and Mastica). Leo is a welcoming and gracious host…easily my favorite in the city. I enjoy feeling like I’m dining in his kitchen…albeit, a very crowded kitchen last night. He makes time to give each group individualized attention…just like any fantastic host.
The gelato pairings are no longer done in the plastic cups, they’ve been replaced by glass but are reminiscent of the cups Leo uses to serve at the gelato counter. The addition of help has likely made Leo’s job easier, but I imagine he’s still working out kinks…our reservation was at 7, but we didn’t finish dinner until about midnight. He’s rearranged a bit more so now there’s an elevated pasta making station that all the dinner guests can see from every seat in the house.
Leo says the article has really changed his weekends. He’s enjoying the challenge of it and sharing his craft with people who appreciate it. But if you don’t want the hustle and bustle of a full house, make reservations during the week and you’ll get the intimate experience that you may be used to if you’re a regular.
New flavors alert:
Lemon cream - if limoncello and fior di latte had a baby, it would be this
Grapefruit granita - like eating a perfectly ripe grapefruit half for breakfast, but better
Macadamia nut - we didn’t get to try it because it sold out during dinner
Yogurt with sea salt - delicious frozen yogurt made in gelato form with a healthy kick of sea salt…we had this paired with an Italian white wine and it brought out the salt while making the gelato seem even creamier
**Leo mentioned that he’s getting stone fruit shipment next week, so be on the look out for different peach flavors, various nectarines flavors, and I think he mentioned apricot and plums.


:face_with_raised_eyebrow: how many courses did you get in that 5 hour span?

Focaccia with a welcome pour of Moscato di Asti
Prosciutto with sheep’s milk ricotta and fresh tomatoes
Gnocchi with pesto
Lemon panko-crusted scallop
Seared ahi with ginger soy and avocado
Cinghiale with pappardelle
Braised short ribs with haricot verts
Pear popsicle

There were gelato-wine pairings in between each course except at the end. Then we hit up the gelato and sorbetto bar for official dessert. Leo’s Zin was free-flowing throughout the meal and there was Pelligrino also included.
Also worth noting is that his new help may or may not have restaurant experience and Leo is still pumping out a ton of wonderful food from his tiny, tiny back kitchen.