30 Essential Italian Restaurants You Must Visit in LA

From casual neighborhood trattorias to regional specialties and high-end ristorantes.

Cento Pasta Bar
Cento Pasta Bar | Photo by Liam Brown
Cento Pasta Bar | Photo by Liam Brown

Los Angeles is so saturated with phenomenal Italian restaurants that the bar is set dangerously high for every new trattoria, osteria, or enoteca. And yet exceptional Italian dining concepts continue to open in LA—proffering fresh, hand-rolled pastas; artisanal meats cured in-house; and sublime pizzas that taste as if you’re in Naples or Rome. Indeed, our city is a veritable paradise for Italian cuisine—with eateries springing up in every neighborhood and spanning the spectrum from casual neighborhood joints to regional and high-end spots. But with so many extraordinary places to choose from, how do you narrow down the options? We’re here to help with our comprehensive list of LA’s 30 best Italian restaurants—whether you’re in the mood for highly traditional fare or a more contemporary menu.

Mother Wolf
Mother Wolf | Photo by Eric Wolfinger

Mother Wolf

Hollywood

Evan Funke, the pasta prodigy behind Felix, one of LA’s most beloved Italian stalwarts, recently opened this plush and romantic spot in Hollywood’s upcoming Vinyl District that acts as an ode to Roman cuisine. Here you’ll find classic interpretations of Roman pizzas and pastas, like a Clasica pie with buffalo mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, prosciutto, and wild arugula on top of a chewy and crispy blistered crust; and Rigatoncini Alla Vaccinara with oxtail ragu, guanciale, red pepper flakes, and pecorino romano DOP. The DOP categorization that you’ll see next to a handful of ingredients across the menu refers to the Protected Designation of Origin—meaning the ingredient is produced, processed, and packaged in a specific geographical area and according to tradition. Also not to be missed are the craft cocktails and a lengthy Italian wine list.

Available for Reservations
Bacetti
Bacetti | Photo by Dylan + Jeni

Bacetti

Echo Park

The city of Rome serves as the inspiration for this design-driven Echo Park trattoria, which offers up crave-worthy antipasti, pizzas, and pastas in a magnificent wood-framed space with dark green banquettes. Chef Joel Stovall is an expert at preparing classics like Bucatini alla Carbonara—which proves that it only takes a few humble ingredients (in this case, guanciale, pecorino, and egg yolk) to create something that’s marvelously satisfying. But the menu offers a few unique surprises too, most notably the Focaccia Ebraica. Stovall’s take on Jewish pizza—a traditional specialty from Rome’s historic Jewish quarter that’s studded with nuts and dried fruit—adds currants, black olives, sea salt, and rosemary to the mix. Made fresh daily and served warm with melted butter, this sweet and savory dish sells out every day.

Available for Reservations
Cento Pasta Bar
Cento Pasta Bar | Photo by Liam Brown

Cento Pasta Bar

West Adams

After attracting a cult following for his lunchtime pasta pop-up in downtown, chef Avner Levi has finally opened his first brick-and-mortar restaurant in West Adams. Levi—who cut his teeth at Sotto, Superba Snack Bar, and Bestia—whips up regional Italian fare with unexpected (yet highly welcome) Middle Eastern touches: chicken liver smeared on grilled bread with aged balsamic; a fistful of perfectly al dente spaghetti crowned with buttery uni, burrata, and Persian saffron; rich, earthy, beet-dyed spaghetti with ricotta and brown butter; and tender, cedar-smoked salmon with pickled cabbage. Although the spot sits on a lively stretch that includes several restaurants and a new boutique hotel, there’s a sense of privacy when you step into Cento Pasta Bar’s idyllic outdoor dining patio, partially screened by a row of trees with 360-degree views of an open chef kitchen.

Available for Reservations
Grandmaster Recorders
Grandmaster Recorders | Photo by Frank Lee

Located in a former recording studio where legends like David Bowie and Stevie Wonder once recorded their hits, this 15,000-square-foot expanse houses a cocktail lounge (complete with a jumbo disco ball acquired from Dancing With the Stars!), a rooftop deck with stunning views, and a restaurant with one of the most interesting New World approaches to Italian cooking. Helmed by Australian culinary powerhouse duo Monty and Jaci Koludrovic, Grandmaster Recorders’ seasonally focused, Italian-meets-Australian menu is a breath of fresh air in a city that’s full of restaurants serving ultra-traditional fare. Dig into as much of the daily crudo menu and antipasti as possible: ‘gram-worthy tuna, caviar-stuffed cannolis, chili-crisp burrata, and Cacio e Pepe Churros wrapped in paper-thin slices of salty mortadella. More substantial offerings include pastas (like sourdough cavatelli with slow-cooked Magra lamb) and grilled meats (such as a Florence-style porterhouse steak served with house-made pickles and dipping sauces). While every dish is beautifully plated and presented, the show-stopping tiramisu is a highlight—topped with a record-shaped chocolate disc to mimic the look of a vinyl record.

Available for Reservations
Etta
Etta | Photo by Ryan Tanaka

Etta

Culver City

Situated in a boutique hotel called The Shay, Etta is a celebrated Chicago transplant (and its first outpost outside of the Windy City). The restaurant group was eager to break into the Los Angeles market and capitalize on California’s abundant produce and fresh ingredients, all of which are on full display at this Culver City hotspot. A frequently updated menu stars seasonal salads, wood-fired pizzas, and made-from-scratch pastas—like hand-shaped orecchiette and fire-wilted kale in a pomodoro sauce of Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes, which are riced for a silky-smooth texture. One of the most impressive items is a 40-ounce, bone-in, hearth-roasted short rib served with soft bread, lettuce cups, yogurt sauce, marinated tomatoes, and all kinds of fun and delectable accompaniments. It’s the perfect dish to share with a group while drinking in Etta’s well-appointed indoor-outdoor space (and while drinking superb cocktails).
How to book: Make reservations online.

Sparrow
Photo courtesy of Sparrow

Sparrow

Downtown

Dining at this elegant restaurant in downtown’s Hotel Figueroa is a transportive experience, assisted by enchanting, Mediterranean-inspired elements (think: arched entryways, a 1920s limestone fireplace, and patterned tile insets) in a light-filled, indoor-meets-outdoor space that opens up to the hotel’s pool deck. With an emphasis on sustainable and organic ingredients, Sparrow’s coastal Italian menu—as well as its innovative cocktails and well-edited selection of French and Italian wines—keeps pace with the resort-like surroundings. Pizzas, pastas, and wood-fired dishes come with a made-you-think twist, like Pistachio Pesto Radiatore or a wagyu-sausage-flecked vodka pie. Dessert lovers will appreciate the respectable sweets menu—which includes everything from Bread Pudding Panettone to creamy Panna Cotta. Sip on an after-dinner amaro (there’s a list of over 25!), and suddenly it’s easy to pretend you’re somewhere along the Amalfi Coast instead of DTLA.
How to book: via SevenRooms.

The Barish
Photo courtesy of The Barish

The Barish

Hollywood

Situated in the lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt, Nancy Silverton’s Italian-inspired steakhouse is her first new restaurant since Chi Spacca in 2013. The menu exhibits the renowned chef’s inclination toward California-Italian fare and highlights dry-aged steaks, fish, and poultry cooked over a wood fire. Prepare yourself for unapologetically bold flavors and contrasting textures: The Dutch Baby pairs a puddle of salty, aged prosciutto with an exquisitely light crepe. The subtly sweet rigatoni arrives in a cast-iron skillet bubbling with brown butter—each noodle stuffed with squash and pungent goat cheese, then covered in vadouvan spices. The playful, deconstructed approach to Steak Tartare includes buckwheat, mustard seeds, kohlrabi, and egg, which you’ll mix vigorously before piling onto the accompanying shiso leaves. In addition to a mouthwatering menu, Silverton’s also put her stamp on the vintage-inspired decor, sourcing some of the tabletop pieces herself from European flea markets.

Available for Reservations
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
Photo courtesy of L’antica Pizzeria da Michele

This Hollywood gem is the first U.S. outpost of the legendary pizzeria in Naples, which has operated since 1870 and even made an appearance on Eat Pray Love. While the original location only serves two classic pies—marinara and margherita—its LA counterpart has significantly expanded the offering with spicy diavola, arugula and prosciutto, truffle, and much more, using the same highly guarded recipe to achieve that soft, bubbly, chewy, charred, Neapolitan-style crust (which you can watch the chef tossing in a glass-walled pizza kitchen). The menu also includes a robust dinner and brunch lineup that’s not to be ignored, with authentic pastas that would impress any Italian nonna and a slew of sublime desserts. But perhaps what makes L’antica Pizzeria da Michele so special in LA’s sea of Italian restaurants is owner Francesco Zimone’s particular brand of hospitality and five-star service; enjoying a meal in this restaurant’s romantic brick courtyard feels like coming home.
How to book: Make reservations online.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Jame Enoteca
Jame Enoteca | Photo by Jakob Layman

Jame Enoteca

El Segundo

Helmed by chef and co-owner Jackson Kalb, who’s worked at prestigious kitchens like Chicago’s Alinea and New York’s Union Square Cafe, Jame Enoteca is the South Bay’s “It” Italian destination. This cozy, no-frills space is nestled in the corner of an El Segundo strip mall, where it serves up Italian comfort food as its finest—like vodka-sauced chicken parm, hot and melty arancini balls, and a fall-off-the-bone pork shank glistening with lambrusco-mustard glaze. And don’t even get us started on the hand-rolled pastas, which are Jame’s claim to fame. You’ll find about ten options for dinner, including a daily chef’s choice, but most gravitate toward the sensational scarpinocc, stuffed with braised beef cheeks and bathed in brown butter, or the mandilli, a pile of glossy, handkerchief-size noodles coated in a vibrant kale-almond pesto.

Available for Reservations
OSPI
Ospi | Photo by Max Milla

Ospi

Venice

On the heels of Jame Enoteca’s successful debut, chef/owner Jackson Kalb—along with wife and co-owner Melissa Saka—opened this approachable Southern Italian restaurant just steps away from the Venice boardwalk. You’ll definitely want to try the romana tonda-style pizzas, adapted from the techniques of storied Roman bakery Antico Forno Roscioli, with crusts thin and crispy enough to remind you of a cookie’s edge. Inspired by Saka’s go-to Fresh Brothers order (a tomato pie with pepperoni, pineapple, and jalapeno), the Hapa is a flavor explosion of slow-smoked pepperoni macinati, slow-roasted pineapple, and raw pickled jalapeno and fresno. House-made pastas, fett’unta (thick slices of toasted bread slicked with olive oil and topped with stracciatella or garlic or ricotta), and a few finger-licking secondi fill out the menu, while a fine assortment of Californian and Southern Italian wines and a special negroni section means you may need to call an Uber home.

Available for Reservations
Urban Soup & Salad Bar
Pasta|Bar | Photo by Liam Brown

Pasta|Bar

Encino

As part of chefs Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee’s renowned Scratch Restaurants group, Pasta|Bar is a celebration of Italian cuisine and Californian flavors. Despite opening only a year ago, this 13-course tasting menu concept in the Valley has already earned a Michelin star. The intimate space serves just ten guests per seating at the chef’s counter, where you’ll kick off with a parade of delicate bites (like sweet, juicy tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and crispy quinoa). The pastas come next; despite the restaurant’s name, there are usually only four, but each one is marvelous—from the brown-buttered Sunflower Agnolotti to the Squid Ink Garganelli. Proteins quickly follow (recent dishes have included pigeon with squash and succulent spot prawns swimming in hazelnut cream). Even the palate-cleansers are top-notch—like Meyer lemon granita served in a hollowed-out citrus with malted milk custard and a dusting of black lime.
How to book: via Tock.

The Tasting Kitchen
The Tasting Kitchen | Photo by Derrick Reed

At this Venice institution, chef Travis Passerotti makes everything from scratch—down to the sauces. Using Chino Valley-sourced eggs and different combinations of flour produced throughout the Western states, including durum, semolina, bread, whole wheat, and chickpea, he creates unique bases—the perfect foundation for sauces, proteins, and other mix-ins. In addition to Passerotti’s appetizing pastas, the seasonally changing menu sports shareable cheese and charcuterie boards, a handful of seafood-focused bites, and heftier plates, like chorizo-spiced king prawns and pork chop with duck fat cabbage. Brunch includes many favorites from the dinner menu, with the addition of some a.m.-friendly dishes, such as Italian cream-filled buns, Sicilian-style crab cakes, and a cacio e pepe soft scramble.
How to book: Make reservations online.

Little Dom's
Photo courtesy of Little Dom's

Little Dom's

Los Feliz

This intimate neighborhood haunt in Los Feliz has served dependably delicious Italian-American fare for the last 15 years from its charming corner on Hillhurst. With its brick facade, wood-paneled walls, and leather booths, this spot channels a nostalgic Rat Pack vibe that’s practically begging for date night. An all-day menu starts with Scrambled Eggs Bruschetta and Ricotta Pancakes for breakfast before transitioning to comfort food favorites for dinner—like deep-fried rice balls bursting with melty cheese, umami-charged Squid Ink Mafaldine with uni butter, and cracker-thin Pizza Margherita with choose-your-own toppings. On any given night, you’ll find this place giving off major New York or San Francisco restaurant vibes—with diners leaning over cozy bistro tables lined up on the sidewalk and stealing bites of decadent Meyer lemon icebox pie.
How to book: Make reservations online.

Vito

Santa Monica

This long-running establishment has stuck around in Santa Monica for over 40 years, surviving the area’s occasionally volatile dining landscape and a pandemic. Westsiders in the know flock to this old-school Italian haven, owned and operated by a Naples-born family devoted to home-cooked Southern Italian cuisine and authentic, passed-down recipes. Attentive waiters suited up in tuxedos bring out fresh bread and totally classic, unpretentious Italian dishes, like the Caesar salad and fan-favorite Spaghetti Della Casa—a Cognac-torched marvel of chopped shrimp in a velvety tomato cream sauce. The Old World atmosphere—white tablecloths, cloth napkins, leather booths, and dark wood paneling—is polished but never stuffy, so you’ll feel right at home even if you stroll in wearing flip-flops after a day at the beach.

Available for Reservations

Union

Pasadena

Even eight years after opening, this cozy, understated Pasadena restaurant remains one of Old Town’s most sought-after reservations. Since naming Chris Keyser as its new executive chef a few years ago, Union has only continued to improve upon its seasonal, rustic menu, which includes Lamb Meatballs, White Truffle Fettuccine, and a beautifully prepared 14-day Dry-Aged Ribeye served with poblano chimichurri. Even the simple bread accompanied by cultured butter and giardiniere will keep your belly satisfied. If you’d rather eat at home, the restaurant now offers family dinners for four, available for takeout or delivery; you’ll get one of Union’s all-star pasta dishes (we’re partial to the Pork Ragu Torchetti with fried rosemary and ricotta), accompanied by garlic bread and arugula salad.
How to book: Make reservations online. Order takeout online.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Available for Reservations
Bestia
Bestia | Photo by Ren Fuller

Bestia

Downtown

This modern Italian restaurant from chefs Ori Menashe (savory) and Genevieve Gergis (sweet) was a game-changer for downtown LA’s Arts District—and it’s still going strong today. Meat hooks in the dining room might come across as macabre elsewhere, but here that accent just hints at the intentions. Salumi is made in-house, roasted bone marrow is spooned over spinach gnocchetti, and a whole roasted lamb neck arrives with smoked anchovy creme fraiche. Most everything is handcrafted, including the bread, pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and dessert; there are usually a handful of sweets in play, most of them seasonal, typically including cakes, tarts, and fritters.

Available for Reservations
Jon & Vinny's
Jon & Vinny's | Photo by Sacha Cosentino

Jon & Vinny's

Multiple locations

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo transformed a dingy Fairfax Village pizzeria into a ray of edible sunshine. The family-friendly, Italian-American restaurant has pretty much everything an adult (or kid) could want, including pizza with crave-worthy crust, house-made pasta dishes, and Chocolate Budino and Straus soft serve ice cream for dessert. If you wake up early—a big if— you’ll also find the restaurant makes a killer breakfast pizza and BLT. The duo’s front-of-house partner/beverage director Helen Johannesen also presides over Helen’s Wines in the back of the restaurant (as well as at the newer Jon & Vinny’s outposts in Brentwood and Windsor Hills), which focuses on organically farmed labels, small production vineyards, and other thoughtful wines.
How to book: Make reservations online.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Alimento
Alimento | Photo courtesy of Alimento

Alimento

Silver Lake

While this beloved neighborhood restaurant underwent a complete design overhaul last fall, its soulful Italian cooking has remained largely unchanged. Zach Pollack, Sotto’s co-founder, traded his previous post’s Southern Italian focus for the top half of the boot, but that doesn’t mean the chef feels bound by tradition. Far from it at this glass-fronted restaurant, where soup-stuffed Tortellini en Brodo resemble xiao long bao and Chicken Milanese forms the backbone of one of LA’s best fried chicken sandwiches. Bonus: the electic wine list showcases small-production, natural wines with a focus on Italian and women winemakers.

Available for Reservations
Angelini Osteria
Angelini Osteria | Photo by Ryan Tanaka

Gino Angelini has been a champion for his country’s cuisine since immigrating to LA from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region in 1995, often credited with helping to pioneer dishes like bone marrow and uni pasta in LA long before they were popular. Before opening his namesake Mid-City restaurant, he cooked at some of the city’s best Italian restaurants and mentored many chefs, including Bestia co-founder Ori Menashe. Regulars who frequent Angelini Osteria enjoy consistent quality and a sprawling menu that includes a parade of house-made pasta dishes, including his famed Lasagna Verde (an homage to Gino’s grandmother), and hearty secondi like Veal Chop Milanese or Dover Sole finished in the wood oven. Chef Angelini recently partnered with Tancredi Deluca of Amici Brentwood and EMILIA on a new Angelini Osteria location that just opened in Pacific Palisades.

Chi Spacca

Hollywood

Nancy Silverton and Joe Bastianich transformed a kitchen classroom into a salumi bar, and ultimately, LA’s most over-the-top monument to meat, adding even more value to a compound that also includes Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza. SoCal native Ryan DeNicola now helms the open kitchen, which includes a wood grill that yields massive cuts like Bistecca Fiorentina and a fennel-pollen-dusted tomahawk pork chop that are consistent with the restaurant’s clever logo. Charcuterie is made in house using exacting standards, with salumi, pate, and terrine, and rarely seen culatello all making appearances. The crispy flatbread—Focaccia di Recco—contains no meat, but it does ooze Stracchino cheese. Although it’s tempting to just order the Beef Cheek and Bone Marrow Pie for dessert, try to make room for the sweets—like Butterscotch Budino and Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Available for Reservations

Chef Angelo Auriana, front-of-house partner Matteo Ferdinandi, and beverage director Francine Diamond-Ferdinandi turned an Arts District back alley into an industrial chic dining destination in 2013. Since then, this tucked-away Italian restaurant has become a popular choice for dishes like handkerchief pasta tossed with Ligurian almond basil pesto. Dinner brings out big guns “from the sea and land” like juicy porchetta or Pink Snapper Filet. The Factory Kitchen also makes its own Focaccia di Recco, which is filled with Crescenza cheese and available topped with combos like San Marzano tomatoes, capers, and anchovies, or foraged Pioppini mushrooms and parsley.

Available for Reservations

Osteria La Buca

Multiple locations

The first Osteria La Buca outpost, located down Melrose from Paramount Studios, has been a neighborhood favorite for over a decade, which has allowed the restaurant to grow and improve its design. Owners Stephen Sakulsky and John Moezzi made a big score when they hired chef Cameron Slaugh, who previously worked at Manhattan culinary temple Eleven Madison Park. Slaugh takes an inspired approach at Osteria La Buca (which now has a location in the Valley too), with house-made pastas, pizzas, and salads starring seasonal ingredients and some precisely prepared proteins like fish and a top-flight pork chop.
How to book: Make reservations for the Larchmont location online. Walk-in dining only on the Sherman Oaks pop-up patio. Shop Buca Grocers online or call the Larchmont location at ​​323-462-1900 for pickup and delivery. Call 818-456-1216to order pickup and delivery from the Sherman Oaks location.

Osteria Mozza
Osteria Mozza | Photo by Anne Fishbein

Osteria Mozza

Hollywood

Nancy Silverton and Joe Bastianich created the Italian Army knife of restaurants with Osteria Mozza, which combines a high-end Italian restaurant with a lively amaro bar and a mozzarella bar, where Silverton herself can be found preparing dishes with mozzarella and burrata. James-Beard-award-winning Dahlia Narvaez makes sure seasonal desserts—like moist olive oil cakes and Meyer lemon gelato pies—keep pace. The only thing this mozza doesn’t have is pizza, but neighboring Pizzeria Mozza more than covers that territory.
How to order: Order takeout and delivery online via Mozza2Go (pickup is at Chi Spacca).

Available for Reservations
Felix Trattoria
Felix Trattoria | Photo by Wonho Frank Lee

Felix

Venice

If you’re lucky enough to snag a reservation at Evan Funke’s Felix, consider fasting before you go. The restaurant, which pays homage to Italy’s most beloved culinary regions, boasts a glass-enclosed, temperature-controlled pasta lab where you can watch Funke himself (who sat down with Thrillist to talk about this very subject) roll and hand-cut delicately shaped orecchiette or round, dumpling-like strangolapreti. Though pasta’s his specialty, the rest of the menu is no afterthought, from stuffed squash blossoms to the bubbly, pillowy, profoundly delicious sfincione—a loaf of Silician focaccia that’s beautifully dressed in sea salt and olive oil. Don’t sleep on the pizzas here either; the kitchen proudly mixes its dough by hand, which results in thin, slightly charred crusts topped with seasonal ingredients.

Available for Reservations

Top Chef contestant Antonia Lofaso’s food reflects her Italian-American heritage, making Scopa one of the Westside’s best spots for shareable small plates with an old-school Italian slant. The hot starter offerings are all rich and excellent—crisp, lemony calamari blackened by squid ink; a fried rice ball stuffed with meat; squash blossoms oozing fresh ricotta; and scallops, large, plump, and sitting in brown butter. The salads, pastas, and mains (like whole branzino and eal Chop Milanese) are equally memorable, but you’d be forgiven if you have a hard time getting past the antipasti menu. And since mixologist maestro Pablo Moix curated a selection of exclusive spirits, don’t leave without sipping on one of Scopa’s small-batch bourbons.
How to book: Make reservations and order pickup online.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Rossoblu
Rossoblu | Photo by Andrea d’Agosto

Rossoblu

Downtown

The Bolognese-inspired menu at Rossoblu is an ode to chef Steve Samson’s childhood memories and the two places he considers home: Los Angeles and Bologna. The pastas are clearly the star of the show—from sfoglia lorda, a regional dish of cheese-stuffed pasta pillows from Emilia-Romagna that Samson first tried at a childhood friend’s home, to minestra nel sacco, which are Parmesan dumplings wrapped in cloth and released into a fragrant broth. Perhaps most surprisingly, Rossoblu whips up some of LA’s best fries—Apennine fries to be exact—which are triple-cooked for ultra crispiness with sage, rosemary, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Like so many other downtown spaces converted into restaurants, Rossoblu preserves its building’s industrial feel—all high ceilings and soaring concrete columns—but couch-like banquettes and a colorful mural that spans the full length of a wall warm up the space, which feels mercifully remote from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Available for Reservations

This charming Downtown trattoria serves up saucy, stick-to-your-bones Italian comfort food, which, at the end of the day, is really the best kind. Start off with Pan-Fried Shrimp Cakes and thin-sliced Baked Eggplant Rolls, load up on Pumpkin Ravioli swimming in creamy truffle parmesan sauce or gnocchi with slow-cooked ragu, and end strong on classic Italian sweets—perhaps a bite of homemade biscotti or the cold-pressed Olive Oil Cake. You’ll leave happy, and so will your wallet, since the dinner bill at Maccheroni usually tends to be more palatable than other Italian restaurants of a similar caliber.

Available for Reservations
Fritto Misto
Fritto Misto | Photo courtesy of Fritto Misto

Fritto Misto

Multiple locations

The namesake dish at this long-standing neighborhood joint is a hearty plate of mixed, fried things (quite literally, that’s what fritto misto means in Italian)—and it’s exactly how you should kick-start your meal. Piled with battered and fried shrimp, calamari, and veggies, the platter comes with a dangerously addictive roasted garlic mayo dip that will have you begging for a refill. And while other restaurants pride themselves on Instagram-ready fare and photogenic interiors, Fritto Misto is as cozy, homey, and unassuming as they come. That’s what you’d expect from a place that plies you with plenty of warm, fresh bread and butter and has a build-your-own-pasta option on the menu.
How to book: Walk-ins only. Order pickup from the Santa Monica location online.

Two words: cheese wheel. This perpetually lively eatery (which first opened on Santa Monica’s Montana Avenue) serves some of its pastas dalla forma—a preparation method in which the noodles are tossed in gigantic cheese wheels and arrive steaming, fragrant, and irresistibly cheesy. (Warning: The practice isn’t executed tableside, so if you want a peek, sneak over to the dining room’s back corner for a look-see.) For a simple, straightforward dish that truly showcases the perfection of Forma’s al dente noodles and the flavors of the cheese, ask for the Chitarra Cacio e Pepe—a combo of black pepper, extra-virgin olive oil, and slightly sharp, salty, melty Pecorino Romano. Don’t overlook the cheese bar either—there’s an overwhelming array of options, from pungent goat Cheddar to Caciotta al Tartufo (a nutty, sour, sweet, and truffle-flecked cheese made from cow’s milk).

 

Available for Reservations

Uovo

Multiple locations

The brainchild of Sugarfish co-founders Lele Massimini and Jerry Greenberg, Uovo is known for its rich, deep yellow noodles—hand-made in their kitchen in Bologna using special red egg yolks available only in Italy, and flown stateside daily so that Uovo’s cooks can prepare classic dishes. With locations in Santa Monica, Mid-Wilshire, and Marina del Rey, this well-priced pasta bar executes every dish perfectly—like Spicy Tonnarelli Arrabiata made with exclusively imported tomatoes from Basilicata and its signature Tagliatelle al Ragu, made without cheese, milk, or cream. Since opening, Uovo has also launched tasting menus for two ranging from $32 to $37 per person, where you can nibble on several pastas with either yellowtail crudo or 100% grass-fed Wagyu Beef Tartare from First Light to start and Tiramisu for dessert.
How to book: Walk in or order pickup and delivery online.

Available for Delivery/Takeout
Tiffany Tse contributes to Thrillist. See what she’s eating now by following her at @twinksy.