Matteo Ferdinandi patrols the dining room with the the look of someone who cares deeply about what is being served in his restaurant – as he should since Factory Kitchen is one of the best things that has happened on the Los Angeles culinary scene to truly show off the elevated quality of Italian cuisine.
Angelo Auriana’s kitchen puts out a delicious array of Italian treats that are a far cry from the ho-hum menus that are repeated day after day at L.A.’s countless, but all very similar Italian restaurants. No scaloppini, or pasta with ragu – no Branzino with Puttanesca sauce or Chicken Vesuvio on this menu. At Factory Kitchen, Chef Auriana’s menu is filled with not only original Northern Italian selections but with a presentation of a variety of ingredients and choices that are rarely seen around the city. It is obvious, that the Factory Kitchen team is concerned with offering its guests a genuine Italian experience focusing not only on delicious ingredients but also on unique techniques and combinations.
The menu is laid out quite simply, with a friendly and rustic list of dishes that takes you from a deliciously varied selection of plates to “begin” followed by sharing options of salads and larger appetizers. For myself the highlights are the simple Insalata with oranges, white frisée, arugula, taggia olives, lemon~chili dressing – I have a great appreciation for a well made and flavorful combination of greens highlighted by citrus and salty olives. Additionally some notable options are the Sanremese another delicious salad highlighted by perfectly sautéed calamari, celery and cherry tomatoes. And lets not forget the Brodetto a superb soup plate of littleneck clams, muscles, garlic and garbanzo beans – perfectly seasoned and with the taste of the sea in every bite.
Further down the menu shared plates such as the 24 month old aged prosciutto topped with a fantastically smooth stracciatella cheese on a perfectly oven roasted round of bread dough sounds conventional but is simply delicious. Also don’t ignore their Frittura, a selection of deep fried vegetables fritters including baby leeks and chickpeas – light, crunchy and perfectly seasoned.
On Chef Auriana’s menu, prior to getting to the main courses and pastas are what I consider one of the restaurant’s most delectable offerings – the Foccacine Calde di Recco con Formaggio. How to describe these? There are usually three selections to choose from – a very light focaccia type dough, though thinner and more pliable than traditional focaccia topped with a selection of options from sautéed chanterelle mushrooms, to arugula and prosciutto to San Marzano tomatoes, capers and anchovies… all mingled in with a cheesy filling that is simply magical in the way the dough, the toppings and the cheese commune to create what I can only describe as the perfect marriage of a pizza and a crepe.
If by this time you are not totally sated by the variety of delightful starters, the menu offers a selection of pastas which I challenge you to find anywhere in the city. I list just two or three for your delight –
casonzei – veal, pork, sausage filled egg~pasta, cured pork, butter, sage. Pockets of delicate dough filled with a combination of delicate meats dressed with a light buttery sauce.
pappardelle – whole-wheat long egg~pasta, braised beef&oxtail sugo, pecorino – what more can I say….
corxetti stampati – hand stamped marjoram infused egg~pasta, veal shoulder tomato sauce – so light, so delicious you’ll be craving for more.
Factory Kitchen’s main course selections are limited in number but very high in quality including two or three fish selections such as the very simple yet delightful Dentice – a sautéed mediterranean pink snapper served with spring onions, artichoke hearts, and savoy spinach. The meats are highlighted by the unctuous Porchetta a rolled pork belly infused with aromatic herbs, red onion, carrots, fennel and celery – rich but surprisingly delicate. Additionally, one of my favorites, Coniglio, a slow braised rabbit with taggia olives, vermentino wine and a delicate slice of polenta Contadina (farmer’s polenta).
The list goes on and the desserts also do not disappoint for those with room for more and a sweet tooth. But what really is highlighted at this restaurant is the commitment from the entire team to provide an Italian culinary experience far from anything you have ever had anywhere else in the city.