Of course, this isn’t Funke’s first foray into the LA restaurant world: his last place, Bucato, was also fresh-pasta focused and roundly acclaimed, but the Culver City spot folded back in 2015 when the relationship between Funke and some of his business partners went sour. After the dissolution, Funke took a bit of time away from LA, working in other kitchens and getting his mojo back in Italy before returning to prove himself this year. “I guess the stakes were very high for me to open a comeback restaurant [after Bucato closed],” he says. “I just kind of went off the radar and did some soul-searching and some consulting... I felt like I needed to re-ground myself, because of what happened with Bucato.”
“This year there was a lot of pressure, but for me that's my sweet spot. I work best when I'm under pressure,” he continues. “I've just learned an incredible amount over the last five years about what kind of business I want to run, what kind of chef I want to be, and what kind of mentor I want to be. That was really the jumping off point for this. The food I was cooking at Bucato was a little bit like sophomore year -- and this is like my thesis in grad school.” Diners obviously agree: the restaurant’s sfincione bread (an air-filled, light, doughy miracle) is a must-order delight, and everything from delicate squash blossoms to pork meatballs are near-perfect.