The Best Pasta Dishes in Los Angeles

L.A. chefs are creating modern twists on traditional recipes
Spaghetti pomodoro | Photo courtesy of The Ponte, Facebook

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 10 of the best pasta dishes in Los Angeles right now, including some newcomers and a few classics that stand the test of time.

Radiatori with braised pork sugo, kale and fennel pollen | Photo courtesy of Alimento, Facebook

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 the most lauded pasta in the press. It 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.

Uni linguini | Instagram by @angeliniosteria

Angelini Osteria



This very buzzy 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 | Photo courtesy of Bestia, Facebook

Bestia



Although Bestia opened in November 2012, it is still one of the toughest reservations in L.A. 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 L.A. 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.

Mandilli di Seta at Factory Kitchen | Instagram by @stevenlo1284

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 L.A. Arts District—and from the hands and mind of Chef Angelo Auriana, who spent 18 years at the esteemed Valentino in Santa Monica. The pasta, 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.

Spaghetti and meatballs with Sunday gravy

 |  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 | Photo courtesy of Osteria Mozza, Facebook

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 | Photo courtesy of Pasta Sisters, Facebook

Pasta Sisters



Eating fantastic pasta doesn’t always have to be expensive, and this family-owned mini-mall storefront proves it—starting at $8.75. Paola Da Re, along with her son and daughter, Francesco and Georgia Sinatra (no relation to Frank), opened their pasta-focused Italian deli, Pasta Sisters in 2014. 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. Located in the Los Angeles Country Club area, 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 a few years ago 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.

Spaghetti pomodoro | Photo courtesy of The Ponte, Facebook

The Ponte



After closing Scarpetta in 2016, James Beard-award winning chef Scott Conant is back in Los Angeles and partnered with Stephane Bombet at The Ponte, a contemporary Italian restaurant that opened in the former Terrine space in February 2017. They’ve kept the tree-filled patio intact, but have redesigned the interior into a more casually elegant experience—complete with white tablecloths. Although Conant is acclaimed for his modern take on a breadth of Italian cuisine, there is one dish forever attached to his name—spaghetti pomodoro. Sounds simple enough—and it is—only it seems that no chef has matched his recipe, introduced at Scarpetta. The secret is in the freshness of the tomatoes, quick cooking, infusing the oil with herbs, and adding a bit of butter at the end. The result is a surprisingly rich and creamy sauce that delicately clings to the strands of house-made pasta.

Spaccatelle with pesto trapanese, pecorino and basil at Sotto | Instagram by @sottola

Enter this award-winning Pico-Robertson restaurant by taking a few steps below sidewalk level into an Old World style building. Inside, it feels like a secretive dinner club filled with a warm wood design and a friendly ambience. Marking its six-year anniversary in 2017, chef/owner Steve Samson continues his focus on regional southern Italian cooking with an evolving, multi-dimensional menu. Although beautiful blistered-edge Neapolitan pizza, fresh bread, and succulent meat dishes come from the kitchen’s centerpiece— a 15,000-pound hand-built pizza oven—other worthy stars include inspired rustic pasta dishes. A highlight is Spaccatelle with pesto trapanese, pecorino and basil. Pair it with a fine boutique wine or one of bar manager Ramsey Musk's marvelously eclectic cocktails.