The Best Pasta In Los Angeles
Flour, water, maybe an egg. How difficult could it be, right? Well, if you've ever tried making fresh pasta at home, you know that making it to any level of excellence is a true art form. It's always the simplest things that are easiest to screw up. Thankfully, there are a few restaurants in L.A. that would make nonna proud with how they're handling Italian-style pasta. Here are our favorites.
Chef Evan Funke's pasta haven pays homage to the Old World, both in style and sentiment. The Culver City spot initially received a barrage of press for their no-cell-phone/no-photos policy, which is a shame because it overshadowed what's really going on here: obsessive commitment to the ancient art of pasta making. Frankly, the lack of smart phones forces diners to engage in actual conversation and take note of the heritage, hand-made pastas — some whose processes are at risk of being lost in the ever-industrializing European country. It’s certainly not cost effective to be making pasta from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily without using a single machine, crank or extruder. But the result is some of the most soulful pasta you’ll ever have. Funke has a real passion for perfecting the simplest things — like cacio e pepe—a humble, minimalist Roman dish made with fresh spaghetti noodles, heaps of fresh ground pepper and grana padano cheese—or papparadelle egg noodles that soak up every last ounce of hearty lamb ragu. It’s rare to see such love and commitment to a single thing, and it's truly beautiful.
Bucato is located at 3280 Helms Ave, Culver City, (310) 876-0286
Superba Snack Bar
If there's a flavor out there more primal than smoke, we've yet to find it. That smell of burning wood-infused into food has become quite trendy as of late, and chef Jason Neroni somehow managed to master the art of infusing his house-made pastas with it. He smokes his uncooked bucatini over smoldering cherry wood chips, then boils it until just al dente. It's then topped with pancetta, parmesan, an oozing poached egg and plenty of black pepper. Perfection.
Superba Snack Bar is located at 533 Rose Ave, Venice, (310) 399-6400
Cavatelli (Photo courtesy of Bestia on Facebook)
Chef Ori Menashe knows how to rock classic Italian cuisine at his Arts District restaurant Bestia. He does a magnificent job of curing his own meats for the charcuterie bar (the mortadella and sopressata are excellent), but the real star here is the hand-made pastas, namely the cavatelli a la norcina—ricotta dumplings tossed with chopped black truffles, spicy pork sausage, and salty grana pardano cheese. It's so savory and morish and comforting, made even more so when paired with a cocktail by Julian Cox or a glass of esoteric vino curated by Maxwell Leer.
Bestia is located at 2121 7th Place, Los Angeles, (213) 514-5724
Osterias are traditionally casual, homey restaurants where diners nosh on a few singular traditional, country-style dishes and a glass of wine. Though he's been known to mix it up at his Italian restaurant, it's hard to be mad at Chef Gino Angelini's soul-hugging pastas. Some of the classics we love at his Mid-City restaurant are the tagliatelle with lamb ragout, pecorino, and mint and homemade spaghetti alla chitarra with black truffles, sausage and parmigiano reggiano. Nonna Elvira's green lasagna, made with a dozen layers of pasta and mild cheese, has rightfully become an L.A. staple. If Rivabella is closer to home, we recommend trying Angelini's delightfully light and citrusy tagliolini pasta with lemon, basil and cream. It's a memorable, crave-worthy dish that we just keep coming back to. (They also serve the famous green lasagne.)
Angelini Osteria is located at 7313 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, (323) 297-0070
Photo courtesy of Osteria Mozza
It would be sacrilege not to include Osteria Mozza on a list such as this. Though the restaurant definitely is a splurge, you can sit at the bar on a weeknight and order the Amaro Menu, which gets you a salad, a main, and dessert plus a quartino of wine for $45. It’s easy to get tempted by everything else on offer, but make sure that you try the egg raviolo. The thickness and consistency of the dough is always perfect, and when you cut into the pasta the yolk oozes out over the brown butter sage sauce. When combined with Nancy Silverton's house-made ricotta, it's just plain sexy.
Osteria Mozza is located at 6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, (323) 297-0100
It's often wrongly assumed that chef Josiah Citrin's nearly 15-year-old Santa Monica restaurant is all about highfalutin' French cuisine. That couldn't be further from the truth; though his cooking is strongly rooted in classic technique, what he's doing these days is much more modern California, which is a blessing because it means that Mediterranean ingredients are treated with reverence. Same goes for the pasta. We had a bowl of damn-near perfect fettucine with shaved Perigord truffles on a recent visit, and our minds were blown.
Spaghetti Vongole (Photo by Emma Gallegos/LAist)
Delicious pasta doesn't have to be a precious (and unaffordable) thing. That's why I love Maccheroni Republic in downtown. Its signature dish osso bucco ravioli will only set you back $12.95. All the pastas are handmade with semolina flour, al dente and mouth-watering. It's not too fussy, but there are some quirks: the security guard might double as your hostess and they don't have a liquor license. But that's just another way to save money: BYOW. —Emma Gallegos
Maccheroni Republic is located at 332 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, (213) 346-9725
Garganelli pasta (Photo courtesy of Drago Centro on Facebook)
Celestino Drago could well be the godfather of terrific pastas, and his protégée Ian Gresik faithfully executes the Italian chef's vision at this massive modern Downtown dining room. The savory garganelli with pork sausage, a thin layer of parmesan, and fennel seeds is full of flavor, and rightfully one of the more popular pastas on the menu. We're also fans of and the burned wheat orecchiette with pork, rapini, tomato, pecorino as well as the handmade egg pappardelle with perfectly roasted pheasant and earthy, meaty morel mushrooms.
Drago Centro is located at 525 S Flower St, Los Angeles, (213) 228-8998
We were admittedly first skeptical about Scarpetta, simply because they charge $24 for a plate of spaghetti. But once you taste the purest form of the dish made by the perfect harmony of pasta, basil, and cheese, you'll see that the dough is worth yours. The spaghetti isn't the only star on the menu though, and you certainly don't have to spend a fortune to dine at Scott Contant's restaurant; mascarpone ravioli is available at happy hour for a mere $8 at the Food Network star's Beverly Hills restaurant, and he also offers a chef's counter experience for $45. There, you'll belly up to the barstools inside the kitchen for an intimate four course meal that includes the famous stramboli bread, hand-made pasta, a protein, and dessert.
Scarpetta is located at 225 N Canon Dr, Los Angeles, (855) 370-8021
When we first heard that Walter Manzke was opening a restaurant called Republique in the former Campanile space, we assumed it would be an updated version of the French bistro fare that he was doing at Church & State. And while there are some resurrected dishes from his stint in DTLA (thank goodness his fantastic moules frites and the infamous charcuterie boards are back!), the menu is more eclectic. On a recent visit we had some truly spectacular angnolotti, the dough just the perfect thickness to contain a whipped cloud of butternut squash. It’s nothing groundbreaking to serve a dish like this with brown butter and sage, but pasta isn’t about reinventing the wheel. It’s about flour and water making alchemy. And this dish did it.
Republique is located at 624 South La Brea Avenue, 310.362.6115