Top 10 New Italian Restaurants in L.A.

Discover 10 of L.A.’s most interesting new Italian restaurants.

Pepperoni pizza at Cosa Buona | Photo by Joshua Lurie
Pepperoni pizza at Cosa Buona | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Italian food has long been of the L.A.’s most consistently popular cuisines, with restaurants like Dan Tana’s, Marino, and Valentino thriving for decades, and consistent lines at Bay Cities Italian Deli. The arrival of restaurants like Bestia, Chi Spacca and Sotto ushered in a new era that dialed up interest in regional Italian cooking and genre-bending concepts. Discover 10 of L.A.’s most interesting new Italian restaurants.

 Tortellini en brodo at Rossoblu
Tortellini en brodo at Rossoblu | Photo: Joshua Lurie  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie


The follow up from Sotto chef Steve Samson and wife Dina honors his mother’s heritage in Bologna. They’ve blazed a trail with Rossoblu at City Market South, a young complex in Downtown L.A.’s destined-to-develop 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. Plump oysters are grilled on the half-shell while bathing with brown butter, sage, Parmigiano Reggiano, lemon, and breadcrumbs. Rossoblu also has some 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 raga Bolognese would make Grandma proud, with a rich stew of beef, pork, and “not too much” tomato sauce coating beautifully delicate pasta. Secondi go big, so be sure to share. Choose your favorite piece of crisp-skinned roasted suckling pig. Do you prefer rib, shoulder, leg, or head? Sweet grilled Santa Barbara spot prawns, when in season, are also delectable. To finish, consider Westin’s chocolate torta, a textured cacao cake dressed with blackberry gelato, maple hazelnuts, and fruity 64% Valrhona Manjari chocolate from Madagascar.

Pepperoni pizza at Cosa Buona | Photo: Joshua Lurie
Pepperoni pizza at Cosa Buona  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Cosa Buona

Chef Zach Pollack co-founded Sotto and turned Alimento (which could easily be in this guide) into a must-try restaurant near the Silver Lake Reservoir. Cosa Buona is his 45-seat follow-up in Echo Park. Pollack strays from Northern Italy and super-charges Italian American classics. Smoked mozzarella sticks with molten cores and shattering coats glide into zesty marinara sauce. Chicken wings come slathered with Zach’s Red Hot sauce and dive into creamy Gorgonzola dip. Pizza is char-pocked and pull-apart after cooking in a wood-burning Stefano Ferrara oven. The version with crispy-cupped pepperoni discs, tomato, mozzarella, and Parm is great. So is the spicy sausage pizza with mozzarella, mustard greens, and chile. Cosa Buona’s chicken Parm sandwich is state-of-the-art, with juicy fried thighs joining Tamworth prosciutto, mozzarella, Provolone, red sauce, and basil on a soft bun. Cannoli Siciliani are a fitting finish, with crispy dark chocolate shell, sweet ricotta, orange, and crushed pistachios at both ends.

Riccioli at Cento Pasta Bar | Photo by Joshua Lurie
Riccioli at Cento Pasta Bar | Photo by Joshua Lurie

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 L.A. 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. 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. Bright-pink beet spaghetti with tangy goat cheese, chives, and poppy seeds is pretty close to a signature dish. When Levi feels luxurious, he serves spaghetti with lobster and uni. Crostini are typically the only pasta-free options, topped with avocado or chicken liver.

Trofie at Felix Trattoria on Abbot Kinney
Trofie at Felix Trattoria  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Felix Trattoria

Just when it was starting to look like Abbot Kinney may have peaked, chef Evan Funke and his Toronto-based business partner Janet Zuccarini opened Felix, reigniting a corner that housed Joe’s for over 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 all Gricia ("friar’s sleeves") involves oversized tubes slicked with guanciale, black pepper, and Pecorino Romano DOP.

Felix is adept with more than just pasta. Pizzas enjoy a blast of wood oak smoke. Secondi star hearty proteins like brisket, chicken, and swordfish. Antipasti may include porri bruciati, charred leeks formed into coils and dressed with pepperoncino, garlic, mint, and bottarga; and cicoria, a chicory salad tossed with honey dates, capers, pine nuts, and Pecorino. No matter what, order sfincione, a puffy, pull-apart focaccia Siciliana round seasoned with rosemary, sea salt, and olive oil.

Spaghetti with bottarga at Pasta Sisters  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie
Spaghetti with bottarga at Pasta Sisters  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Pasta Sisters Arlington Heights

Padua native Paola Da Re, son Francesco, and daughters Francesca and Georgia are bound by Italian tradition at Pasta Sisters, their casual Arlington Heights café. They make pasta using her grandmother’s recipes within clear view of customers using Italian flour. Tagliatelle, spaghetti, ravioli, and more are pair-able with a bevy of sauces. Consider pesto with pine nuts, butter sage with a sprinkling of Parmigiano Reggiano, or spicy arrabbiata with tomato, garlic, olive oil and chile flakes. Specials may include spaghetti with bottarga, savory cured mullet roe garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. Non-pasta highlights include beautifully caramelized eggplant Parmigiana and off-menu risotto prepared with minced lettuce, Parmigiano Reggiano, light butter, and vegetable stock. Panzerotti are deep-fried calzones filled with combos like spinach and ricotta or ham and mozzarella and dipped in zesty tomato sauce. Francesco says, “Our mission is to reeducate people on how to eat good Italian food the right way.” That mission extends beyond this shop, since many key ingredients (and pastas) are available for home cooks.

Pignatiello pizza at Pizzana | Photo: Joshua Lurie
Pignatiello pizza at Pizzana  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Pizzana - Brentwood

Brentwood was already littered with Italian restaurants, but Pizzana still manages to shine. Sprinkles Cupcakes founders Candace and Charles Nelson teamed with Chris and Caroline O'Donnell on this Neapolitan-style pizzeria. They crafted a sleek space with a small patio, airy dining room, and black-tiled, wood-burning oven that devours white oak. They hired Naples-born chef Daniele Uditi. Pizza is clearly the star, with pliable two-day fermented dough singed in all the right places. Organic, stone-ground flour, San Marzano tomatoes and fior di latte mozzarella all come from Italy. Their classic Margherita is fantastic, but Pizzana excels with atypical toppings. Consider the Pignatiello, loaded with rich shredded beef “Sunday gravy, ” fior di latte, Parmigiano crema, and basil. Pounce if they have special cacio e pepe featuring sharp Parmigiano Reggiano and cracked black pepper. Top antipasti include wood-fired pork, lamb, and beef meatballs; and charred artichoke hearts with fried baby artichokes, toasted pine nuts, Parmigiano, and tangy lemon citronette. Nelson is a cupcake legend, but her baking skills run far deeper. Her torta al cioccolato is a rich dark chocolate olive oil cake slathered with chocolate ganache and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and crumbled biscotti.

Bucatini Cacio e Pepe à Union | Photo: Joshua Lurie
Bucatini Cacio e Pepe à Union  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie


Bruce Kalman and Marie Petulla have turned an Old Pasadena side street into a destination with Union, their seasonal Italian restaurant that has proven to be quite the crowd pleaser. Part of the appeal must come down to transparency, and a personal touch. Every kitchen team member appears at the bottom of the menu. Local farmers (and nearby markets) grace the dining room’s blackboard. They even educate with illustrations of pasta shapes like garganelli (tubes) and farfalle (bow-ties). House-made bucatini (hollow spaghetti) prepared cacio e pepe style is a major hit, tossed with Pecorino-Romano and black pepper and topped with a jiggly 63-degree egg. Spaghetti alla chitarra features pasta cut with a tool that resembles guitar strings, San Marzano tomato, garlic, and Fresno chile. Since people cannot live on pasta alone, Union serves tasty salads and vegetable dishes, which fall under “Field” on the menu and might include little gems with roasted stone fruit, croutons, dukkah, and tangy crème fraiche poppyseed dressing. Hearty mains might include roast chicken, lamb chops, or crisp-skinned porchetta.

Tagliatelle al ragú at Uovo | Photo: Joshua Lurie
Tagliatelle al ragú at Uovo  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

UOVO | Santa Monica

Sugarfish and KazuNori co-founders Lele Massimini and Jerry Greenberg have started to diversify in Santa Monica. Near the Third Street Promenade, Greenberg imported Ojai burger fave HiHo Cheeseburger and teamed with Rome-born Massimini, his brother Carlo, and Lowell Sharon on neighboring Uovo. Their Italian concept stars cut pasta made in Bologna using eggs containing vivid red yolks. The sleek space touts KazuNori-like design with reclaimed wood, an open kitchen, and long counter. The menu divides pasta into Roma, Bologna, and Classiche. From Bologna, consider tagliatelle al ragú with al dente strips tossed with a savory blend of ground pork and beef. Mix thoroughly. Tortellini in brodo is another classic Bologna-style dish touting tiny beef and pork tortellini submerged in a vegetable, chicken, and beef broth. Tonnarelli - thick, spaghetti-like pasta - pairs well with cacio e pepe, a rich blend of Pecorino and black pepper. Tonnarelli alle vongole is a Massimini family recipe with clams and dusting of red chile pepper. Uovo also serves ravioli with fillings like ricotta, fresh artichoke, and “meat.”