After seeing "Rio" with two friends we wanted something sweet to eat, but we also didn't want to just have dessert for dinner. Across the street from the theater we saw Ugo, which turned out to be a good choice for appetizers and gelato.
My friend Mika chose the Polpette, two 100% ground beef meatballs with homemade bread crumbs and marinara sauce ($6.50) because it said on the menu they were the "best you would ever taste". While she didn't agree with the description (neither did I) because they were a bit dense and dry, they were good enough to finish and the sauce was a very good light rendition of marinara.
I chose the beef carpaccio with Parmesan, capers, and arugula because I was in the mood for beef and it's not often that I see raw beef on any menu. I was relieved to find this dish so balanced with greens, beef and cheese, rather than other versions I've had which either drown the dish in olive oil or smother it with Parmesan. I loved the lemon vinaigrette dressing on the bed of arugula which gave my bites of the beef with salad a piquant fresh crunch.
Alia chose the fried calamari which I tried to photograph, but none of those pictures came out, sorry. The calamari was tender and did include tentacles as well as rings, so although it was not noteworthy, it was a well executed version of this dish.
Alia's dessert choice was the Bacio di Dama Hazelnut and vanilla crunch gelato topped with thick whipped cream, Bacio di Dama cookies and chocolate for $9 (sorry the picture is blurry). The dessert was big enough to share, but Alia somehow managed to eat nearly all of it even after her appetizer; it was as delicious as it looked. She especially loved the crunchy bits of hazelnuts in the gelato.
I was boring and ordered the wild raspberry cheesecake. It was a dense, thick version, with a layer of raspberry jam for $6.99. Like many other things on the menu, I found it uninspiring but decent.
Mika chose the cappuccino gelato served in a chocolate coffee cup topped with whipped cream $9 and adored both the presentation and the taste of the perfect way to end a meal for non coffee drinkers.
Ugo has a wine bar next door and they have a happy hour, so if you are happy with decent appetizers and great gelato desserts, this is a good choice before or after your movie in Culver City.