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DineLA: Ugo: An Italian Café
I like to think of myself as a person who does what they say they’re going to do when they say they’re going to do it. So it was that, two days after spending the afternoon in the bathroom with the stomach flu, I found myself walking into Ugo: An Italian Café to partake of their DineLA menu. I’ve been there before, and generally Ugo is a solid though not particularly creative Italian option in the Culver City area (though in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve not yet tried the gelato place they opened next door.)
As usual, it was bustling at lunch time and we were wedged into a middle table against a wall. We had to keep shifting the table from one side to the other as people moved around (to avoid the guy next to me from knocking elbows with me.) Still, everyone was really nice about it. It’s a bright space, decorated mostly in white and accented with designs from Deruta china (classic, colorful designs from Italy.)
The DineLA menu was a three course meal for $15, which is a great deal. We ordered the Arancini and the Caprese Salad. The salad had lots of tomatoes and cheese, flavored with lots of fresh basil. Very nice. The Arancini was balls of risotto and cheese with a little salami in them fried and presented in meat sauce. I was surprised that they would have it in meat sauce – it seemed too rich for that, but they were quite good and the sauce wasn’t spicy, but it was very flavorful.
For a second course, I had the Spaghettini d’Almafi, which was spaghetti with chopped up shrimp and capers in a creamy red sauce. I was really pleased that it wasn’t an exciting dish (see first paragraph) but it was a good one. The shrimp, though chopped, were tender and almost translucent, and the sauce itself wasn’t too seafood-y. The pasta was perfectly al dente and the capers provided a tart addition to each bite. My friend had the Chicken Masala, which I found a little sweet, and was certainly a lot of food for lunch, but the chicken was perfectly grilled. It came with vegetables and potatoes, which were peppery (like bell peppers). Not a favorite of mine.
Though I was passed full, there was dessert to be had. My companion had the Limoncello Cake. It had lemon custard in between layers, and came in a freestanding slice. I had the tiramisu, which I liked really well – it wasn’t too boozey, so you could enjoy the fluffy lightness of it and the creamy-chocolate-coffee flavors.
Ugo held no particular surprises for us. It was good, solid food for stomachs that were in need of just that. I didn’t get sicker. The people around us seemed delighted with the luxury of a three course lunch, and though I ate very little while we were there, I can nearly always be talked into some good tiramisu!
Ugo: An Italian Cafe
3865 Cardiff Ave
Culver City, CA 90232
Photos by Jacy for LAist