Whether it’s big, family-style shared dishes at a casual trattoria or upscale, refined courses at an elegant restaurant, Angelinos love their Italian eateries. Here is a list of some of the best places to get your pasta on in the Los Angeles area.
Located in an old industrial warehouse in the Arts District, Bestia has an upscale urban architectural fell with exposed brick walls, concrete floors, and an open kitchen. The L-shaped interior space is divided into a main dining area with small booths, communal tables, and a long charcuterier bar featuring a salami counter with marble tabletops. Dishes are both traditional and adventurous, including a house made selection of cured meats, roasted bone marrow, chicken gizzards, rustic handmade pizzas, pastas, dorade, braised pork, ricotta gnocchi with pork sausage, and black truffles.
Tucked in the corner of Grand and 7th in downtown is the massive airy Bottega Louie. Marbled walls, floor to ceiling windows and an open kitchen provide lots of space for café tables and three cooking areas – a main kitchen, wood fire burning pizza oven and a bread and pastry oven. Diners can get all types of pizza and pasta here as well as steak and chicken dishes. The large glass patisserie also provides a wide variety of desserts.
Top Chef contestant Fabio Viviani’s Firenze Osteria in Toluca Lake specializes in regional Italian comfort cuisine. The restaurant is divided into three warm-toned eating areas — diners can enjoy specialty cocktails and appetizers at the long bar, get a glimpse of the celebrity chef cooking in the open kitchen from the main dining room, or share an intimate meal in the back dining area. The extensive menu has a variety of choices, including duck sausage and fennel pasta, spinach ricotta dumplings, and lamb with braised pistachios.
4. Il Cielo
Modeled after owner Pasquale Vericell'as country house in Sorrento, this charming Beverly Hills Italian eatery is all about romantic Italian dining. From the vine cloaked patio in front, the side patio alfresco seating near the fountain to the inside tables by the fire, Il Cielo provides an ideal locale to savor robust Southern Italian cuisine from house made ravioli to whole striped sea bass.
If you’re craving an old-school atmosphere, Beverly Hills’ La Dolce Vita is the place to dine. Traditional Italian dishes including spaghetti with slow cooked meatballs, veal scaloppini, lasagna Bolognese, Steak Sinatra (filet mignon with peppers in a Chianti sauce) are served amidst dark red circular leather booths, white tablecloths, and dim lighting. The cocktails are also retro, with plenty of martinis, sidecars, and Manhattans.
Owned by three of the most famous restaurateurs in the country — Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Nancy Silverton — Mozza is both a pizzeria and a traditional osteria joined in one location. The upscale restaurant includes a marble bar for Amaro and a fresh cheese counter, as well as tagliatelle with oxtail ragu, gnocchi with duck ragu, butternut squash mezzelune, and sweetbreads piccata.
The 3,500-foot trattoria and pizza bar at Soleto has something for everyone. Diners looking for a bargain will love their $5 happy hour food specials including shrimp oregano, charred cauliflower, crispy polenta croquettes, and peach sangria. Those who love pasta but are gluten intolerant can order a gluten-free version of any pasta on the menu. Pizza enthusiasts will appreciate the open pizza bar and specialty pies, including truffled mushroom and smoked peck, and potato, egg, and bacon.
Located in the heart of Brentwood, Toscana serves up Northern Italian dishes in a rustic atmosphere. Celebrities and locals frequent this brick-walled, Tuscan style trattoria. The menu offers a wide variety of pastas, from comfort food such as lasagna and spaghetti, to rich gnocchi and ravioli, as well as thin-crusted pizzas, grilled steak with rosemary, and a wine list with over 300 choices.
Chef Bruce Kalman’s Union in Pasadena is small and rustic in atmosphere but big on Northern Italian flavor. The 50-seat eatery houses a cement bar, exposed brick, wood tables, and a chalkboard displaying the specials. Menu standouts include the house made charcuterie, spring lamb with pickled green garlic, bistecca with porcini mushrooms and marrow-onion jam, and the seafood cioppino.
A local LA fixture for over four decades, Valentino is divided into four fancy dining rooms in earth tones of rust and brown, with travertine floors and glass chandeliers. Serious oenophiles will savor the extensive 130 page wine list of over 140,000 bottles. Settle into an intimate table or booth and enjoy several courses of the best Northern Italian cuisine in Los Angeles.
For more reviews of Los Angeles restaurants and food related events, visit author, publicist, magician and freelance travel and food writer Shaena Engle’s culinary blog The Divine Dish.