Feature

12 Pastas You Need to Try Around Los Angeles

By Lesley Balla  |  February 17, 2015
Credit: Bestia

No matter its size, filling or sauce, pasta is one of the world's most favorite foods, especially in Italy. With more than 600 shapes and strands to choose from, handmade ravioli to fusilli squiggles and some you've probably never heard of (gigli!), pasta comes in many forms and sizes, draped in sauces, tossed with seafood and filled with meat. It is exceptionally difficult to pick only a few favorites from the mass amount of great pasta dishes in Los Angeles, but here's a good place to start. Sorry, carb-haters.

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  • Agnolotti di Osso Buco at Maccheroni Republic

    This may be one of the most unlikely locations for terrific handmade pasta in town, but now that the block bustles from the Grand Central Market, it makes sense. There’s a small park next door, the room is rather unadorned, but everything is so modestly priced, it’s more of an everyday trattoria instead of an impossible-to-get-into hot spot. That’s why the pastas, like supple agnolotti stuffed with braised veal shank and tossed in a bright-green pesto, are wonderfully simple.

    Cost: $12.95

    Drink This: Whatever you want — it’s BYO here. 

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    Casonzei at Factory Kitchen

    A lot has been said about the mandili, gorgeous sheets of tender pasta tossed in a light pesto sauce, and with good reason. It’s amazing. But there are many other wonderful pasta dishes on the Arts District restaurant’s menu. Some of the more authentic dishes are brought directly from Italy, like this stuffed pasta from chef Angelo Auriana's hometown of Bergamo. The little packets are filled with veal and pork sausage, twisted into shape and topped with a light pork, butter and sage sauce.

    Cost: $19

    Drink This: You'll want a glass of crisp Vermentino with this one.

  • Casarecce at Sotto

    Chef Steve Samson specializes in wonderfully rustic, full-flavored dishes at this hidden gem on Pico Boulevard. The rigatoni with chicken-liver ragù is an amazing dish, especially in the winter, but the little casarecce twists, perfectly al dente, with braised lamb and pecorino, is just what you want in spring.

    Cost: $18

    Drink This: The COS Nero di Lupo, a Nero d’Avola from Sicily, is a medium-bodied wine with a nice earthiness to it for the lamb.

  • Credit: Ryan Tanaka

    Tortellini en Brodo at Alimento

    Zack Pollack brings rustic Italian flare to Silver Lake at the diminutive neighborhood spot, and no matter what he adds and subtracts from the menu, the tortellini remains a signature item. In Bologna, tortellini is either served in brodo (a broth) or with prosciutto and cream sauce. Pollack combines the two: broth is on the inside of each pasta pillow and the sauce outside. It’s like a xia long bao soup dumpling, only more Italian.

    Cost: $14

    Drink This: An aromatic, dry, full-bodied Arneis goes nicely with this dish.

  • Credit: Sara Remington

    Raviolo at Osteria Mozza

    If there was one place to order only one ravioli, it would be here. It’s simplicity at its finest: one pocket filled with ricotta cheese and an egg that, once you put a fork in it, oozes golden goodness to swirl with brown butter on the plate. Amazing.

    Cost: $25

    Drink This: A quartino of the Soave works well with the rich and butteriness of the ravioli.

  • Cavatelli alla Norcina at Bestia

    We love the menu inspiration chef Ori Menashe takes from the seasons at the Arts District hot spot. His menu is always evolving, but some things will cause a revolt if he removes them, like these ricotta dumplings studded with housemade sausage and black truffles. It’s comforting, it’s delicious and the restaurant wouldn’t be the same without it.

    Cost: $29

    Drink This: The Schiava from Alto-Adige, a reasonably priced light red.

  • Credit: Union

    Spaghetti alla Chitarra at Union

    What chef Bruce Kalman brings to Pasadena is rustic Italian magic. And it was so, so needed. There are only a few wonderfully handmade pastas here, but when you want it super simple, the spaghetti with piquant tomato sauce — there’s a little Fresno chile mixed with the San Marzano tomatoes — is perfect. Keep an eye on the Grand Central Market this summer. The chef and partners are opening a pasta bar and market in the Downtown food hall.

    Cost: $15

    Drink This: The fruity Germano Dolcetto D’Alba “Lorenzino” form Piemonte stands up well to this sauce.

  • Bucatini Carbonara at Gusto

    Vic Casanova’s lovely trattoria has some fantastic regional Italian dishes, but if you have to order just one handmade pasta, it should be the bucatini carbonara. The thick, long strands of dense noodles are exactly what you want for holding the chunks of pancetta and rich, creamy sauce — made all the better once you mix the poached egg into it. The dish is so soulful and delicious, it's impossible to push aside.

    Cost: $23

    Drink This: The earthy, minerally Gavi from Francesco Rinaldi.

  • Tagliatelle at Bucato

    There are hundreds of pasta shapes in the world, and chef Evan Funke knows how to make most of them. He specializes in pasta fatto a mano at the Culver City restaurant, or pasta made by hand — no machines, just fingers, rollers, knives and tables to make the various shapes that you’ve probably never heard of. The menu changes daily, often incorporating seasonal ingredients, but the tagliatelle with white ragù and pecorino is always a stunner when it’s available. Then again, just about everything is.

    Cost: $16

    Drink This: Like the food menu, the wine list changes constantly. You can't go wrong with an Arneis or Pecorino with this dish.

  • Tagliolini in Canna a Mare at Terroni

    This is a popular dish at both the Beverly Boulevard and Downtown LA locations for good reason. A tangle of handmade strands of tagliolini is topped with fresh clams, mussels, calamari, scallops and tiger shrimp in a light tomato sauce.

    Cost: $20

    Drink This: A light Chianti, or a Nero d’Avola from Sicily, slightly chilled.

  • Pappardelle With Pheasant at Drago Centro

    This was one of the most popular pasta dishes at Celestino Drago’s now-defunct Drago restaurant, so it’s no surprise to see it on the menu at the bustling Downtown spot. Thick pappardelle noodles, as supple as can be, are tossed with roasted pheasant meat and morel mushrooms. This is an autumn dish that’s as good on a hot summer day as it is in October.

    Cost: $20

    Drink This: The wine list is exceptional here, but aim for a Barbaresco or Barolo to pair with the earthiness of this dish. 

  • "Nonna Elvira's" Lasagna Verde at Angelini Osteria

    ​Almost reaching iconic status, you can taste the generations of family love in the soul-warming lasagna at Gino Angelini's still wildly popular restaurant. Layers and layers of of green spinach pasta, beef and veal ragù, béchamel and cheese is everything you expect it be and more.

    Cost: $16​

    Drink This: A fruity and medium-bodied Chianti.