Food & Drink

The Best Italian Restaurants in LA

Published On 01/20/2015 Published On 01/20/2015
Bestia DTLA
Spaghetti Rustichella at Bestia | Bestia DTLA
AlimentoLA

Alimento

Silver Lake

The City of Los Angeles drained the Silver Lake Reservoir and Spaceland became the Satellite back in 2011, but the neighborhood is still popping thanks to a new crop of restaurants, none better than Alimento. Zach Pollack, Sotto’s co-founder, traded his previous post’s Southern Italian focus for the top half of the boot. That doesn’t mean that Pollack is bound by tradition. Far from it at this family-run, glass-fronted restaurant, where a soup-stuffed tortellini en brodo resemble xiao long bao, and chicken Milanese forms the backbone of one of LA’s best fried chicken sandwiches.

Angelini Osteria

Mid-City

Gino Angelini has been a champion for his country’s cuisine since emigrating to LA from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. He cooked at some of the city’s best Italian restaurants before opening Angelini Osteria, where he’s mentored many chefs, including Bestia co-founder Ori Menashe. He opened other restaurants, but only his namesake Mid-City restaurant perseveres. 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, and hearty secondi like veal chop Milanese or Dover sole finished in the wood oven.

Bestia DTLA

Bestia

Arts District

This modern Italian restaurant from chefs Ori Menashe (savory) and Genevieve Gergis (sweet) was a game changer for downtown LA’s Arts District. Meat hooks in the dining room might come across as macabre, but here that accent just hints at intentions. Salumi is made in-house, roasted bone marrow’s spooned over spinach gnocchetti, and a whole roasted lamb’s neck comes slathered with salsa verde. Handcrafted food extends to the bread, pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and to dessert; there are usually at least least eight sweets in play, most of them seasonal, typically including cakes, tarts, and fritters.

Courtesy of Josh Lurie

Chi SPACCA

Hollywood

Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joe Bastianich transformed a seldom-used kitchen classroom into a salumi bar, and ultimately, LA’s most over the top monuments 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 cleaver logo. House-made charcuterie is made in house using exacting standards, with capocollo, salumi, and rarely seen culatello all making appearances. The crispy flatbread -- focaccia di Recco -- contains no meat, but it does ooze Stracchino cheese. Mozza Group pastry chef Dahlia Narvaez, a James Beard Award winner, furnishes desserts, though it’s tempting to just order the beef cheek and bone marrow pie.

The Factory Kitchen

Arts District

Chef Angelo Auriana and front of house partner Matteo 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 pastas like handkerchief pasta tossed with Ligurian almond basil pesto. Dinner brings out big guns “from the sea and land” like juicy porchetta and a veal duo. The Factory Kitchen also makes their own focaccia di Recco, which is filled with Crescenza cheese and available topped with combos like San Marzano tomatoes, capers, and anchovies or ham and rosemary.

Gusto

Gusto

Mid-City

Chef Vic Casanova left the hotel restaurant world to open Gusto with wife Jessa in 2011. Their small restaurant near the Beverly Center has big flavors and a well-deserved reputation for serving premium house-made pastas. Bucatini carbonara is a particular standout, with chewy tubes sticky with pancetta and washed with egg yolk. Tagliatelle verde is tossed with lamb neck ragu, but tastes surprisingly light. In summer, linguine with crab, zucchini pickled Fresno chilies, and sea urchin sauce is a seasonal star. His sister restaurant Pistola is the one that’s better known for meat, but don’t sleep on Gusto’s meatballs, topped with zesty tomato sugo on a whipped ricotta bed.

Jon & Vinny’s

Fairfax Village

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 donuts 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 wine shop in back of the restaurant, with a small but vital selection -- and home delivery.

Officine BRERA

Officine Brera

Arts District

Chef Angelo Auriana and front of house partner Matteo Ferdinandi built on the success of The Factory Kitchen by opening this nearby trattoria. Chef Mirko Paderno is in the glass-fronted kitchen daily, using almond or orange wood, depending on whether they’re cooking meat or fish. Seasonal pastas and salads get prominent placement on the menu, as do big cuts of meat. Risotto also gets the rare spotlight: chewy carnaroli rice hosts proteins like milk-braised salt cod and bone marrow. Pro tip: Officine Brera also has an off-menu dish at dinner, a delicious chickpea pancake called farinata.

Osteria La Buca

Hollywood

Osteria La Buca, 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. New 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 is now worth a drive. He makes pastas in-house, pizzas and salads starring seasonal ingredients, and some precisely prepared proteins like fish and a top-flight pork chop.

Osteria Mozza

Osteria Mozza

Hollywood

Nancy Silverton, Joe Bastianich, and Mario Batali created the Italian Army knife of restaurants with their Osteria, which combines a high-end Italian restaurant with a lively amaro bar and a mozzarella bar where Silverton herself can also be found preparing dishes with mozzarella and burrata. Dahlia Narvaez makes sure seasonal desserts keep pace. The only thing this mozza doesn’t have is pizza, but neighboring Pizzeria Mozza more than covers that territory.

Pistola

Mid-City

Vic Casanova claimed A.O.C.’s former home, teaming with Seth Glassman on an upscale Italian steakhouse. Pistola is a classy place with marble bar, black seats, and white clothed tables. There’s some overlap with what you’ll find at his other restaurant Gusto, but with boosts of luxury: i.e., here, spaghetti comes topped with spicy tomato sauce and Maine lobster. The restaurant also has fun riffs on Italian classics, including “cacio e pepe” arancini. Really, though, the best reason to eat here is for steak and sides. USDA Prime beef from Nebraska is dry-aged and available in cups like a bone-in New York strip or massive tomahawk, all hit with a dry rub, grilled, broiled, and finished with olive oil and arugula.

Sotto

Sotto

Beverlywood

Steve Samson and Zach Pollack devoted this subterranean Beverlywood restaurant to soulful southern Italian cooking -- and even though Pollack is now focused on Alimento, Samson ensures that Sotto is still going strong. Stefano Ferrara installed a yellow-tiled, wood-burning oven patterned after the best versions in Naples, which burns oak and beechwood to produce the city’s best pizza. Guanciale pizza with fennel pollen is a particular standout. House-made pastas like chewy rigatoni with chicken liver ragu or spaghetti with crab and tomato are also delectable. Grilled pork meatballs and Caesar-style romaine hearts are similarly memorable.

Courtesy of Josh Lurie

Vincenti

Brentwood

Brentwood’s San Vicente Blvd has become a hotbed for Italian restaurants, but the refurbished restaurant that Maureen Vincenti and Chef Nicola Mastronardi have steered since 1997 still stands out in the crowded field thanks to the level of their food. In summer, they serve a great soft-shell crab with roasted vegetables, and house-made tagliolini with Manila clams and zucchini. Cooler weather calls for richer meat dishes like porchetta. No matter the season, Vincenti also always hosts Monday’s popular pizza night.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Alimento 1708 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026 (Silverlake)

This bright and airy Italian bistro is a perfect laid-back spot for date night. Zach Pollack, of Sotto and South Coast Plaza's Pizzeria Ortica, has flipped Italian food on its head with an inventive menu, even calling his Tortellini in Brodo "al contrario" (or, opposite) -- tiny dumplings filled with hot broth and a sauce with diced mortadella and Parmesan cheese. His clever take on classic Italian dishes has brought crowds of locals and celebrities through the door.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Angelini Osteria 7313 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Mid Wilshire)

This LA dining staple is beloved for its one-of-the-family feel and next-level preparation of classics like the lasagna verde and homemade ravioli.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Bestia 2121 E 7th Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90021 (Downtown)

Since opening in 2012, Bestia's become the definitive LA restaurant, offering a menu that appeals to both eat-anything foodies and eat-carefully dieters in an industrial but homey space. The Arts District restaurant serves an Italian menu with next-level pizza, pasta, and small plates, and no matter what you get, be sure to start with the beloved charcuterie board -- all the meats are cured in-house.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. Chi Spacca 6610 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038 (West Hollywood)

From the people behind Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza, Chi Spacca is the meat restaurant in the Mozza Group's Italian empire. Essentially an Italian steakhouse, the West Hollywood spot serves up top-notch charcuterie, juicy and tender steaks (the tomahawk is the best in town), and vegetable sides. The steaks are pricey but worth it.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. The Factory Kitchen 1300 Factory Place, Los Angeles, CA 90013 (Downtown)

This Italian glamour-pit is serving up serious home-made eats. Try the pastas, flatbreads that are out of this simple world, and any of their inventive 'tails.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. Gusto 8432 W 3rd, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (Mid Wilshire)

Gusto is a small restaurant serving three courses of gourmet Italian cuisine and a terrific list of regional wines from the homeland and domestically.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Jon & Vinny's 412 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036 (Mid Wilshire)

From Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Animal, Son of a Gun), this Fairfax restaurant specializes in all-day Italian, by which we mean all-day pizza. Aside from the signature breakfast pizza, Jon & Vinny's breakfast offerings include pastries (nutella toast!) and hot plates like burrata scrambled eggs and buttermilk pancakes. The lunch and dinner menu emphasizes house-made pastas and pizzas, and your meal should definitely start with bruschetta served on Gjusta bread. The airy and casual neighborhood spot houses a wine shop helmed by Helen Johannesen, the wine director for all of Shook and Dotolo's restaurants.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Officine Brera 1331 East 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90022 (Downtown)

Inspired by the landscape and cuisine of Northern Italy, this cozy DTLA restaurant serves seasonal fare in a warm and open space. Enjoy artisanal craft cocktails and Italian wine on the outdoor terrace, or take a seat in the plush indoor dining room and mangiare on homemade gnocchi and slow-braised beef shoulder. The glass-enclosed kitchen offers an exciting look into how the food is prepared.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. Osteria La Buca 5210 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038 (Hollywood)

Date-friendly atmosphere? Check. Top-notch Italian food? Check. Melrose-facing windows? Check. There's not a whole lot this restaurant doesn't have, which makes it that warm, ambient Italian joint that everyone should have in their life but that so few people do.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
10. Osteria Mozza 6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038 (Mid Wilshire)

Mozza boasts a large, entree-laden menu with delicious grub and zesty libations.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
11. Pistola 8022 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (Mid Wilshire)

Vic Casanova's massive Italian steakhouse on 3rd St is a sleeper hit that consistently serves up juicy-in-all-the-right-places steaks and chops. Though prime steaks (shout out to the 40oz Bisteca Fiorontina) are undeniably the highlights of the menu, the pasta dishes and speciality veal parmesan are must-orders as well. Pistola will set your wallet back a chunk but, hey, doesn't everyone deserve a solid steak?

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
12. Sotto 9575 W Pico, Los Angeles, CA 90035 (West La)

This West LA restaurant serves Southern Italian food in an upscale and hip basement space. The menu is always changing but remains consistent for its emphasis on comfort and creativity. Expect small, medium, and large plates of meat and seafood, plus simply refined pasta dishes (like spaghetti with clams) and knock-out Neapolitan pizzas. The dimly-lit interior is outfitted with rustic communal tables and an open kitchen.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
13. Vincenti Ristorante 11930 San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049 (Brentwood)

Owner Maureen Vincenti and Chef Nicola Mastronardi have kept their Brentwood restaurant going strong since 1997, even among the explosion of Italian spots on San Vicente Boulevard. How? The quality of the Italian cuisine on Vincenti's seasonal menu is unmatched, and the sophisticated, inviting interior with white-clothed tables keeps things timelessly classy. In summer, you'll find fresh dishes like soft-shell crab with roasted vegetables, and house-made tagliolini with Manila clams and zucchini. The colder weather brings richer, meatier plates like porchetta. And any season calls for a glass from the extensive wine list.