The Best Pasta Dishes in Los Angeles

LA chefs are creating modern twists on traditional recipes

Cento Pasta Bar at Mignon | Instagram by @eatswithanthony

Cento Pasta Bar at Mignon | Instagram by @eatswithanthony


Pasta noodles, initially consumed as an easy and inexpensive food staple for the masses, has evolved as a complex culinary star taking center stage at the ever-growing number of Italian restaurants in Los Angeles. Innovative chefs are putting inventive twists on traditional recipes with hand cut and house made pasta; local and sustainable ingredients; variations of cheese, meat, and seafood; and unique accents, such as fennel pollen and nettles. Check out some of the best pasta dishes in LA right now, from newcomers to classics that stand the test of time.

Morning Glory Radiatori at Alimento in Silver Lake

Morning Glory Radiatori at Alimento | Photo: @alimentola, Instagram

Alimento



Nestled on a small block just down the street from the Silver Lake Reservoir is Alimento, a tiny neighborhood restaurant owned by chef Zach Pollack that's become a destination for those seeking some of the most fun and interesting rustic Northern Italian dishes in Los Angeles. Sharing plates is the way to go here, so ordering multiple pasta dishes is always an option. The tortellini in brodo al contrario is Pollack’s whimsical rendition of the popular Bologna dish of cheese-filled pockets in broth, but done in a reverse fashion with broth-filled pasta pockets placed in a sauce of Parmesan and mortadella cheese. It’s a brilliant, playful dish, but for more substance a must-order is the radiatori with braised pork sugo, kale, and fennel pollen. This accordion shaped pasta is cooked perfectly al dente and provides the perfect weight to carry the rich braised pork sauce, highlighted with unique spikes of buttery, sweetness from fennel pollen. Due to popular demand, Pollack recently introduced a breakfast version: the Morning Glory Radiatori with house-made breakfast sausage, soffrito, egg and parm.

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Uni linguini | Instagram by @angeliniosteria

Angelini Osteria



This bustling Osteria has been a fixture on Beverly Boulevard since opening in October 2001—and with award-winning chef Gino Angelini’s authentic menu, it feels like the closest thing to an Italian dining room you’ll find in Los Angeles. Indeed, there are cult favorite dishes, such as the whole Mediterranean branzino in salt and the lasagna verde “omaggio nonna Elvira” (Angelini’s grandmother’s recipe). But, if you’re a fan of uni, then the uni linguini is an absolute must. There are other pasta dishes featuring uni in Los Angeles, but none matches the classic simplicity of Angelini’s version. Fresh uni is tossed into linguini and blended with olive oil producing a creamy sauce. Two more pieces are then crowned on top of the pasta. Mix the uni in with the linguini to make it a richer sauce, or enjoy the uni pieces separately. Either way the dish is a uni lover’s dream.

Cavatelli alla norcina at Bestia in the DTLA Arts District

Cavatelli alla norcina at Bestia | Photo: @reborns14, Instagram

Bestia



Although Bestia opened in November 2012, it is still one of the toughest reservations in LA. Co-owned by chef Ori Menashe and his wife, pastry chef Genevieve Gergis, this acclaimed restaurant is located on a side street among warehouses in the Downtown LA Arts District. Bestia occupies an impressive industrial chic loft space with an open kitchen, salumi bar, and close-fitting tables. Featuring inventive multi-regional Italian cuisine, Menashe is known for his cured meats, house-made charcuterie, and sublime pasta. The menu constantly evolves, but some of the most beloved dishes remain. A highlight since opening day is the cavatelli alla norcina— spiral ricotta dumplings surrounded by small chunks of house-made pork sausage and a generous sprinkling of black truffles. Delicately mixed together with a rich grana padano cheese sauce, it all adds up to a flawless bite.

Beet spaghetti at Cento Pasta Bar in DTLA

Beet spaghetti at Cento Pasta Bar | Photo: @jenn_harris_, Instagram

Cento Pasta Bar at Mignon



Avner Levi worked for Italian leaders like Bestia and Sotto before opening a no-frills lunchtime concept called Cento Pasta Bar at Mignon in Downtown LA. Pile into marble tables or the wood bar, both lit with coat hanger chandeliers. Air-dried Italian pastas and hand-made fresh pastas rotate with the seasons and with Levi’s whims. Bright-pink beet spaghetti with tangy goat cheese, chives, and poppy seeds is pretty close to a signature dish. Depending on the time of year, you might find riccioli, ridged corkscrew pasta with peas, preserved lemon, and pea tendrils; or farfalle, bow-ties with pork and fennel sausage and beet greens. When Levi feels luxurious, he serves spaghetti with lobster and uni.

Mandilli di Seta at The Factory Kitchen in the DTLA Arts District

Mandilli di Seta at The Factory Kitchen | Photo: @akangasaurus, Instagram

The Factory Kitchen



One of the most unique pastas in Los Angeles comes from a bustling trattoria located in a former industrial building in the Downtown LA Arts District—and from the hands and mind of Chef Angelo Auriana, who spent 18 years at the esteemed Valentino in Santa Monica. Mandilli di Seta (or handkerchief pasta), is made fresh in-house and literally looks like a handkerchief that’s been gently folded over a few different ways. Cut into thin sheets and paired with a silky almond basil pesto sauce and grated pecorino cheese, it is most definitely a pasta dish that wows with its lightness and simplicity—making it the perfect complement to a shared meal.

Trofie at Felix Trattoria on Abbot Kinney

Trofie at Felix Trattoria

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Felix Trattoria



When Chef Evan Funke and his Toronto-based business partner Janet Zuccarini opened Felix in April 2017, they reignited an Abbot Kinney corner that housed Joe’s for more than two decades. A buzzing bar and two dining rooms flank twin kitchens, including a glass-fronted room where pastas are made by hand with no shortcuts. Pasta derives from four distinct Italian regions: Le Paste del Nord, Le Paste del Mezzogiorno, Le Paste del Centro, and Le Paste delle Isole. Highlights include orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta) tossed with spicy sausage sugo, broccoli di cicco, and pepperoncino and topped with thin-shaved Provola. Trofie is a wonderfully chewy, screw-shaped pasta coated with pesto Genovese and Parmigiano Reggiano. Mezze maniche alla gricia ("friar’s sleeves") involves oversized tubes slicked with guanciale, black pepper, and Pecorino Romano DOP.

Sweet corn cappellacci with funghi misti and fresh thyme at HiPPO in Highland Park

Sweet corn cappellacci with funghi misti and fresh thyme at HiPPO | Photo: @sherwingoo, Instagram

HiPPO



Opened in July 2018, HiPPO is a collaboration between James Beard Award winning Chef Matt Molina and Silverlake Wine partners, Joe Capella and Randy Clement. Tucked inside the complex that houses Triple Beam Pizza and Go Get Em Tiger, the 80-seat HiPPO (as in "Highland Park Post Office") features a bow truss ceiling, open kitchen, and a marble-topped bar. The menu is divided into starters, pastas, meat/fish/game, and desserts. Highlights of the freshly-made pastas include the seasonal sweet corn cappellacci with funghi misti and fresh thyme; and the hearty fettuccini with heritage pork ragu.

Bucatini Alla Amatriciana at Knead & Co. Pasta in the Grand Central Market

Spaghetti and meatballs with Sunday gravy at Knead & Co.

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Knead & Co Pasta Bar + Market



Two years after opening Union, a 50-seat Pasadena restaurant featuring rustic northern Italian cuisine known for its spectacular fresh pasta dishes, Bruce Kalman and his business partner, Maria Petulla, opened Knead & Co, a pasta bar and marketplace at Grand Central Market in Downtown L.A., featuring old school meets new school Italian food. Sit at the counter and watch pasta makers turn the four different types of flour from Pasadena’s Grist & Toll into more than 20 different shapes. While it’s difficult to choose which dish is best, there’s one that truly sets itself apart from others of the same ilk around town: the spaghetti and pork meatballs with Sunday gravy—an extra rich tomato sauce cooked for hours. There’s nothing more comforting—unless you add a soft egg on top.

Tagliatelle with oxtail ragu at Osteria Mozza

Tagliatelle with oxtail ragu at Osteria Mozza | Photo: @sureleeann, Instagram

Osteria Mozza



It’s impossible to write about Italian food in Los Angeles without including James Beard award-winner Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, partners at the Highland and Melrose "Mozzaplex," which houses Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza and Chi Spacca. Pasta, wine, and an appointed mozzarella bar are key components at the restaurant. If you’re looking for a hearty pasta dish, the tagliatelle with oxtail ragu hits the spot without being overwhelming. The oxtail is slow-cooked so it's melt-in-your-mouth tender. Despite its meatiness, the sauce lightly clings to the thick, yet perfectly al dente pasta. Hot tip: No reservation? Dine at the Amora Bar inside Osteria Mozza Sunday through Thursday and enjoy three small plates (mozzarella bar, pasta, dessert) for $35.

Spaghetti with bottarga at Pasta Sisters

Spaghetti with bottarga at Pasta Sisters | Photo: @pasta_sisters, Instagram

Pasta Sisters



Eating fantastic pasta doesn’t have to be expensive, and the family-owned Pasta Sisters proves it. Paola Da Re, along with her son and daughter, Francesco and Georgia Sinatra (no relation to Frank), opened their pasta-focused Italian deli in 2015. They opened a second larger location at Helms Bakery in Culver City in March 2018. With grab-n-go offerings and desserts, in addition to made-to-order dishes, it is a one-stop-shop for a perfect Italian meal. The name is a tribute to Paola’s two sisters, who were raised in Padua, a small town in Northern Italy. They spent hours with their mother learning how to make pasta with recipes passed down through generations. Paola moved from Italy to Los Angeles and brought her mother’s handwritten recipes compiled in two diaries. Some of those pastas and sauces (which can be mixed and matched), and sweets are made in-house daily. Perhaps the most authentic and not widely offered in Los Angeles - especially for $12.50 - is the bottarga (salted, cured fish roe from Sardinia) with either spaghetti or gnocchi, that’s blended into the pasta with a light olive oil sauce. If that doesn’t fit your fancy, the pesto, three-cheese, porcini mushroom, or Bolognese surely will.

Nonna’s Tagliatelle al Ragù Bolognese at Rossoblu in the Fashion District

Nonna’s Tagliatelle al Ragù Bolognese at Rossoblu

 |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Rossoblu



Chef Steve Samson and wife Dina honor his mother’s heritage in Bologna with Rossoblu, located at City Market South in Downtown LA’s burgeoning Fashion District. A patio gives way to an elevated dining room and bar with a grand mural and open kitchen. Rossoblu’s massive hearth burns almond wood and seemingly imparts magical powers to everything the smoke touches. Rossoblu serves up fantastic Bologna-style pasta dishes. Tortellini en brodo ("in broth") is a classic with tiny pork, chicken, mortadella, Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano dumplings served bobbing in a brilliant beef and chicken broth, with Parmigiano Reggiano shaved tableside. Nonna’s Tagliatelle al Ragù Bolognese would make Grandma proud, with a rich stew of beef, pork, and “not too much” tomato sauce coating beautifully delicate pasta.