THE BEST PASTA IN L.A.
Italian restaurants are ubiquitous throughout L.A. However there are only a handful of places that can be considered as the best in the city. I grew up in a culture where pasta was the main staple of the family meal. The ingredients and techniques that once made up these delicious recipes have changed dramatically over the years. And now, though “tradizione” is the cornerstone of Italian pasta dishes, innovative chefs throughout the city have been able to create new recipes and new ingredients that surpass what we have known as the traditional pasta experience.
The best pasta in L.A. is a popular topic amongst chefs and food writers in this city. Just recently several articles have surfaced in L.A. Weekly and other local periodicals listing where to go for the best pasta in the city. Some I agree with and some, such as Jon and Vinny’s I found to be overly generous in their assessment.
So here you go – if you are ever in Los Angeles and want to eat what I consider to be a true representation of this sacred Italian culinary tradition, try any of these establishments and you will not be disappointed.
1710 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
Zach Pollack runs today what I consider to be the best Italian food in the city at Alimento. In the heart of Silver Lake, Alimento provides a list of pasta options that are as different from each other as they are original and delicious. Starting with his Radiatori with Pork Ragu – rich, luscious, savory – to his delectable Gnoc with Oxtail, Marrow and Potato. These dishes are quintessentially Italian but with a touch of genius when it comes to ingredients and technique. I can assure you that once you taste these pasta dishes you will be coming back for more because they remain embedded in your culinary consciousness for a very long time.
Other pasta highlights at Alimento are the Squid Ink Strozzapreti with Octopus, Fennel and Chili as well as the unforgettable Tortellini in Brodo “al contrario” – the broth is in the tortellino instead of around it. You can’t just eat one serving so order two to start, you won’t be sorry.
37 E. Union, Pasadena, CA 91103
Pasadena is one of the Los Angeles area’s most culturally rich neighborhoods. The Norton Simon Museum, The Pasadena Playhouse and The Rose Bowl are all landmarks of this great part of Los Angeles. But as far as foodie landmarks are concerned, Pasadena is fast becoming the home of some of Los Angeles’ best eateries. One such establishment is Union – a simple name for a simple but delicious restaurant. Located smack in the middle of old town, Union is a restaurant that offers a variety of dishes but the primary spirit of the place is focused on Italian culinary traditions. And among these menu selections are some of the best pastas in the city.
Chef Bruce Kalman and Chef de Cuisine Dan Rebello put together some exquisite pasta combinations that maintain, as with Alimento, basic traditions, but with original and locally sourced ingredients. A few samples that stood out in my opinion were the delectable Bombolotti with Lobster, the luxurious Tagliatelle with Pork Ragu and finally the simple but delicious Fusilli with Pork Sausage. These great pastas were all homemade and prepared with delicious ingredients that highlighted the kitchen’s understanding and heart of what a great plate of pasta should be.
7313 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Most of Los Angeles’ best pasta dishes are coming from new establishments brought to life by new young chefs that are reinterpreting the culture of Italian pasta making. However, there is one restaurant that is more of an established eatery and has been recognized over the years as one of the best Italian restaurants in Los Angeles – Angelini Osteria.
Here one can find a plethora of dishes that represent Italian cuisine with class and mastery of ingredients. The restaurant is small and still quite popular so a table is not always easy to come by – try lunch, it is much easier to get a taste of Chef Gino Angelini’s cuisine.
Chef Angelini’s pasta dishes vary from what I consider the best Carbonara in the city – made simply, traditionally, deliciously – to more refined pasta dishes such as his Trofie alla Riviera made with a delicate fresh tomato sauce and shrimp, to his Agnolotti Osso Buco stuffed with rich and luxurious veal shank. Everything at Angelini Osteria is made with “tradizione” and class and for this reason it continues to strive as one of the city’s best restaurants.
1300 Factory Place, Los Angeles, CA 90013
In the past several years Downtown Los Angeles has started to thrive as one of the city’s hottest restaurant locations. New places have popped up throughout the downtown area providing a wide selection of new and exciting restaurants representing some of the city’s finest chefs. One of my favorites is Factory Kitchen, located off of Alameda Street near the vast outdoor markets of downtown Los Angeles. Here, owner Matteo Ferdinandi and Chef Angelo Auriana have put together a bustling room which serves, for all intents and purposes, some of the best Italian food in the city.
At Factory Kitchen, possibly thanks to Matteo’s Venetian origins, the pastas served are not only filled with Chef Auriana’s culinary imagination and bravura, but are also influenced more by what we would call a Northern Italian touch. Odd pasta shapes such a Maltagliati (literally badly cut), Francobolli (postage stamps), Mandilli di Seta (Silk Napkins) and Raviolini (small Ravioli) are dressed with a variety of delectable sauces; anywhere from a creamy Almond Basil Pesto, to a veal shank sugo or stuffed with a mind blowing cured pork smothered in butter and sage. Unlike my previous preferences, these pastas are much richer, not for the faint of heart but nonetheless as exquisite in their preparation as they are in their flavor and satisfying luxury.
Matteo Ferdinando also runs Oficine Brera, located in the same area as Factory Kitchen.
As a side note, by all means there are several other establishments in the city which, by reputation at least and according to other writers’ accounts, provide a wide variety of delicious pastas. But honestly, when establishments such as the ones I infer to make it quite impossible to get a reservation no matter how early you book, I truly lose any interest in trying them. Blocking the best reservation times to satisfy their celebrity clientele or just making it so damn hard to get a table is just a way for them to say they are not interested with the general public’s business, and so neither will they get mine.
Los Angeles is a food-centric city filled with the cooking passion of so many different cultures, this is why I love living here. But when it comes to pasta, given my 25 years living in Italy, it becomes a sacred mission to find the best pasta the city has to offer. Hopefully at some time, you too will be able to try the places I have listed for you in this article. Let me know – just go to www.dinewithjb.com and keep up with my travel and food adventures and let me know if you had the same fantastic experiences.