Culinary pros often stress that fresh pasta isn’t necessarily better than the more familiar dried version -- it's just different. While that may be true, we’ve officially become die-hard devotees of the fresh variety as of late, likely because those delicate, dreamy noodles are having a moment in LA, and the offerings have never been better. Across the city, chefs from low-key neighborhood joints and Michelin-starred standouts alike are crafting housemade, hand-cut pastas of all shapes and sizes, meant not just to serve as supporting players to thoughtful sauces and seasonal ingredients, but to full-on steal the show. Here are 16 places doing fresh pasta to celebrate kicking your Keto diet to the curb.
Downtown Chef Steve Samson created the menu for Rossoblu -- an expansive Fashion District restaurant with vaulted ceilings anchored by an open kitchen in -- as a love letter to Northern Italy’s Bologna region where he spent summers as a kid. (The name is even a tribute to Bologna’s soccer team). The result is a robust offering of unique pastas like the tortellini in brodo, tiny rings stuffed with pork, chicken, prosciutto, and parm bobbing in a clarified chicken and beef broth; the maltagliati, a plate of hand-cut square pasta pieces cradling a rotating mix of mushrooms along with greens and sage; and Mom’s minestra nel sacco, a cult-status dish assembled tableside by a server who empties a bag of puffy parm dumplings into your bowl of broth for a little dining drama.
Venice Since Venice-based chef Jason Neroni and partners revamped the longstanding neighborhood mainstay Rose Cafe into stylish and sprawling The Rose a few years back, the bustling, day-to-night eatery offers everything from baked goods to tiki drinks to fish tacos. However, the absolute do-not-miss dishes here actually revolve around his house-made pastas. Neroni, who first learned the craft under Alain Ducasse in New York, creates innovative offerings like the vibrant seaweed-based green wakame noodles paired with uni, as well as his personal fave, the cherrywood-smoked radiatore: a short noodle fashioned with ruffles meant for catching the classic carbonara sauce. His seasonal gnocchi, made from Bellwether Farms ricotta, are also reliable standbys.
West Hollywood Pasta guru Casey Lane stands at the helm of this glam Southern Italian-inspired eatery hidden inside the Kimpton La Peer Hotel, where he’s got a library of recipes with various flour-egg-water ratios depending on the strand and shape he has in mind. The current menu’s fiery spaghetti con ricci with crab and jalapeno is definitely worth an order, but for something heartier, go for the pasta alla piastra: a 100-layer lasagna that does indeed comes replete with 50 layers of paper-thin pasta sheets and 50 more of what he’s matter-of-factly dubbed the “world’s best bolognese.” On Sundays, Lane dreams up a rotating special lasagna that might incorporate chicken and caramelized onions one week, or clams and Calabrian sausage another.
Culver City The beloved Brooklyn pizzeria opened its first West Coast outpost last year, offering several of the signature wood-fired pies that first made it famous. Is it crazy, then, that when we’re craving pasta over pizza we still come straight here? That would be a hard no: it’s inside the colorful, mural-covered space where co-owner and chef Carlo Mirarchi, who splits his time between New York and LA, makes knockout noodles via techniques he learned growing up with his Calabrese-born dad. His tubular spaccatelli (which he makes much longer than its usual ziti-like length, because why not?) is a perfect pairing with its sweet-and-tart-summer sungold sauce, while the fat twists of gigli are ideal for sopping up vongole broth dotted with plump manilas and breadcrumbs (though the anchovy-and-mint setup that’s often done with the gigli is a winner too).
Venice Those who got to know and love chef Evan Funke at his first pasta palace, Culver City’s Bucato, were thrilled to see his triumphant return to the dining scene with this Abbot Kinney trattoria. It's here that Funke is constructing next-level noodles for all to (quite literally) see inside the restaurant’s temperature controlled, glass-enclosed pasta lab. The pasta menu is a tribute to a quartet of Italy’s cherished culinary regions, with ever-changing rustic offerings like tagliatelle with a rich ragù bolognese and an intense 48-month parm vecchia scuola (translation: old school) from the north; his alla gricia sauce, a sort-of cacio pepe-meets-carbonara centered around squatty tubes of mezze miniche stemming from Central Italy; and a lemony Sicilian-style spaghetti with pepperoncini, lemon leaves and aged olive oil. If it seems like Funke is giving every single ingredient an inordinate amount of thought and that he’s clearly at the top of his pasta game these days, well, it’s because he is.
Hollywood Nancy Silverton’s upscale and elegant Italian eatery (that was just bestowed one of those shiny new Michelin stars) gets a lot of attention for that marvelous mozzarella bar, but the place is also a pasta powerhouse. Look for simple-but-standout offerings including the long-running orecchiette with housemade sausage and Swiss chard, and a pillowy ricotta-and-egg raviolo in a brown butter sauce. For what just might be the deal of the century, eat at the amaro bar on weeknights when you get a three-course dinner (and yes, one of them is indeed a pasta course) for $35.
El Segundo Chef/co-owner Jackson Kalb can’t pinpoint exactly where he learned to master making the kind of hand-rolled pasta he serves at the popular neighborhood joint he opened with partner Melissa Saka (the me in Jame) in a South Bay strip mall last summer. More likely it was a combination of places -- his after-school gig at Josiah Citrin’s Melisse (where he worked from age 13 until he went off to college), the months he spent living in Italy, and his stint as chef de cuisine at Downtown’s Factory Kitchen. The result is his menu of inspired pastas and equally artful sauces, like yarn-thin cappellini twirled in a “36-hour” tomato sauce (some of that time admittedly dedicated to the painstaking deseeding-by-hand process) and a lemony arugula-infused pappardelle with braised pork. Then there's the squid-ink bavette: flat, black ribbons beneath chunky rock shrimp, a hot helping of sliced chiles, golden breadcrumbs, and a big dollop of burrata, proving (yet again) that seafood and cheese can be a dynamic duo.
Downtown The downside of this pasta bar that’s currently running a residency inside wine bar Mignon is its seriously limited hours -- just 16 a week (lunch only, 11am to 3pm Wednesday-Saturday). The upside? Killer pastas from LA-born chef Avner Lavi, whose resume includes stints at Superba Snack Bar and Bestia. The limited menu changes up weekly, but Lavi’s most fabled is by far the always-on-menu technicolor beet spaghetti done with a dollop of goat cheese. Be sure to grab up any gnocchi he’s got going (and he’s usually got one going).
Culver City This rooftop spot atop the Platform project is more than a pretty face (though it is really, really pretty), courtesy of an equally impressive Med-inspired menu under exec chef Mike Williams, who’s also at the helm of sister restaurant Norah in WeHo. Coastal influences abound here, with a selection of crudos and oysters in addition to seafood-heavy pastas like tuna conserva-tossed spaghetti, and ribbony taglioni with saffron, fennel pollen, and housemade knobs of seafood sausage. Williams’s favorite is the pappardelle, crafted from an heirloom einkorn wheat milled weekly at a local grain mill and served with a Wagyu beef bolognese. Do yourself a favor and try as many as you can.
Downtown Though Middle Eastern juggernaut Bavel has gotten more of the spotlight over the last year, it was their first-born Bestia that turned spouse-chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis into the stuff LA culinary legends are made of, and pushed the envelope for Arts District dining. Seven years on, this modern Italian masterpiece still puts out some of the city’s finest handmade pastas, including its renowned ricotta-dumpling cavatelli paired with an Umbrian Norcina sauce of shaved black truffles and nubs of housemade sausage. The spaghetti rustichella is currently sharing a bowl with tomato, Maine lobster meat, and Calabrian chiles, in case you’re looking for something a little luxe.
Venice The place doesn’t scream old-school Italian at first glance, with its industrial-chic dining room, super-serious liquor selection, and perennially happening bar scene, but chef Antonia Lofaso does indeed churn out terrific takes on the classics. We can wax poetic on the bubbly baked eggplant parm and the bright green bean-and-fingering-laced Sicilian tuna salad, but we’re here to talk pasta. Lofaso's handmade, al dente designs get to shine in familiar favorites like a bowl of fat rigatoni with a fresh ricotta-topped vodka sauce or a simple cacio e pepe chitarra, in addition to a creste rigate: a rustic bowl of mohawk-shaped pasta pieces we’ve not seen anywhere else in town, paired with seasonal mushrooms and greens. We very much miss the fan-favorite fusilli with tomatoes, melty eggplant, and fluffy burrata, and hope it returns by the time you get there.
Silver Lake Zach Pollack (who also helms Echo Park pizzeria Cosa Buona) focuses on a melting pot of regions inside this bright space with an itty-bitty sidewalk patio in the heart of Silver Lake. Even the familiar pastas here (agnolotti, spaghetti, fusilli) quickly become standouts thanks to thoughtful ingredients like bottarga breadcrumbs, pea tendrils, and smoked butter. You’ll probably stumble into a noodle you’ve never heard of here, too, whether it’s the snail-shell-shaped lumache done with duck sausage and braised radicchio, or fat strands of bigoli tossed with tomatoes and a nutty fiore sardo cheese.
Century City The two-year-old LA outpost of this chain of energetic marketplaces is a shrine to all things edible and Italian, including daily-made fresh pastas -- many of which you can find at the duo of casual carb counters La Pizza & La Pasta, where you can spy skilled pasta makers doing their thing. The stuffed offerings are especially notable here, with a seasonal rotating ravioli and a hearty spinach-and-fresh-ricotta-filled pansotti: ruffled-edge half moons done with a rustic walnut pesto. Upstairs, the swankier rooftop restaurant Terra focuses on fare from its massive wood-fire grill, but the pasta offering is equally solid with black squid ink spaghetti contrasted with peachy pieces of Santa Barbara uni along with a simple chitarra pomodoro.
Santa Monica Before you take down that tagliatelle without a second thought, know that these noodles have had quite the commute. The pastas at Uovo (opened by a group including Sugarfish co-founder Lele Massimini and brother Carlo) are made daily in the restaurant’s kitchen, which actually happens to be across the planet in Bologna. It’s there that the Italy-based crew utilizes a traditional sheeting-and-cutting technique, as well as eggs only available in Italy (where Italian chickens reside, we hear) to create these noodles’ deep yellow hue. The stuff is then overnighted via the temperature-controlled belly of a commercial passenger jet bound for LA. The menu is split between rich Bolognese dishes like meat-stuffed tortellini done with parmesan cream, Romanesque variations of tonnarelli (which you probably know better as spaghetti) including a guanciale-flecked carbonara; and classics like a simple spaghetti with clams and ricotta-filled ravioli pomodoro. Bonus: No dish is currently over 17 bucks.
Downtown Chef Angelo Auriana was serving a solid mix of pastas with a nod to Northern Italy here in the Arts District long before the hood was this hot. With another Factory Kitchen outpost now open at The Venetian in Vegas and sister restaurants Brera Ristorante and pizzeria Sixth & Mill nearby, the original is still a strong contender for your fresh pasta fix. Some of the stuffed pastas are the standouts, including the agnolotti of roast-beef-and-kale scallop-edged ravioli packed with seafood and plated with langoustines and a cured tomato sauce.
Hermosa Beach With its dim lighting, drippy candles, and cracked French doors letting the ocean air waft in, this place screams date spot. Plus, since the plates are not overwhelmingly huge (a la the way they come in Italy), you and said date can probably order up several and not feel completely disgusted with yourselves. Chef/owner Luca Manderino (who operated nearby Sosta Enoteca for more than a decade before opening this new incarnation last fall) focuses on delicate Venetian-style handmade pastas, like his signature spaghetti beneath a flavor powerhouse of slow-cooked onions and anchovies, and extra-wide pappardelle glazed in porcinis.
Sign up here for our daily LA email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Los Angeles has to offer.
Lizbeth Scordo is a food and lifestyle writer who grew up in New Jersey and is therefore legally required douse every pasta dish in red pepper flakes. Follow her as she spices things up on Instagram @modlizbeth and Twitter @lalizbeth.