Italian restaurateurs Antonio Tommasi and Jean Louis De Mori first emerged on the Los Angeles dining scene with the very popular West Hollywood Locanda Veneta in 1988. Four LA restaurants and 26 years later, they have opened Maccheroni Republic, another great Italian eatery located in downtown.
This quaint osteria is a far cry from their trendy high-end first restaurant venture. Now they serve fresh Italian comfort food in an inviting and intimate setting.
Diners can choose to sit al fresco on the small patio or inside in the cozy main dining area. Either choice is a winner, but be sure to arrive early, as there is usually a long line of Angelinos waiting to taste the outstanding affordable Italian cuisine. Set across from the Grand Central Market and next to a fast food franchise, the restaurant is a hidden gem.
The 70-seat restaurant is tiny at 1,600 square feet, but cozy with a dark wood ceiling, brick wall, and vintage furniture. The 30-seat patio faces Biddy Mason Park and is housed around olive trees with strands of twinkling lights.
Standout appetizers include the burratina con le verdurine, buttermilk mozzarella with mixed grilled and pickled vegetables; violetta di melanzane, baked eggplant rolls stuffed with mozzarella; and insalata di polpo, Spanish octopus and faro salad with an olive oil and lemon dressing.
The handmade pastas, however, are the star at Maccheroni Republic. Gnocchi is pillowly, light, and melts in your mouth with a meat and forest mushroom filling, The ravioli de zucca is equally stunning with huge pumpkin filled ravioli under a butter, cream, and truffle sauce. Traditionalists will love the Bigoli Della Nonna, a thick Venetian spaghetti with Angus beef and sausage ragout and the lasagna di carne, a Emilian lasagna with layers of meat and cheese.
Desserts are also traditional with huge cream filled pistachio-crusted cannoli, panna cotta, and gelato.