Claudio Urciuoli's restaurant is a temple to simple food in the form of a 24th Street bungalow. Or maybe it's more of a low-key barracks: There's a spartan rigor to Urciuoli's approach to ingredients. He gets the very best and often the most obscure, commonly from his native Italy: olio nuovo, heirloom beans, Tuscan pecorino, high-end polenta, heady wines. He also gets the best of what's locally available, including marine life like skate and scallops from Nelson's Meat + Fish, and sausage and steak from Arcadia Meat Market. His menu is tight. Dishes have few parts. All pieces appear to be working hard, because you never seem to want more than those Urciuoli adeptly unites. His food is solidly Italian, but not tied to any one region or regular classic preparations. Pa'La is small, almost half patio, and the heart of the eatery is a wood-fired oven. Beautiful breads emerge from its flames. Cast iron pans of colored zucchini frittata and crisp-skinned bluefish emerge, and once you bite in, the olden rusticity of the food washes you in a timeless warmth. Despite this, Urciuoli's commitment to technique and his far-reaching supply chain of erudite ingredients feels very new, or at least firmly anchored in the 21st century. You can taste that commitment in plates as humble as grain bowls, or as starters of bread, cheese, and cured meat. New Normal: Seating is limited inside but takeout is always available.
- Price: $$$
- Hours: Tuesday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
- Outdoor seating: Open-air patio