Openings

What You'll Be Eating at Knead & Co. Pasta Bar Downtown

By Lesley Balla  |  February 2, 2016
Credit: Lesley Balla

In an effort to curb merging lines and crowded aisles, the Grand Central Market has finally put up signs designating where customers should wait in line for food at any of the stalls. That's because the almost 100-year-old market is busier than ever, with hungry hounds descend on the place for cheap carnitas tacos, slutty egg sandwiches, curry sausages, wood-fired pizza, coffee, smoky brisket, oysters, empanadas, vegan ramen, cakes and cookies and Thai street food. You can now add handmade pastas, homey meatballs, extremely good cannoli and other rustic Italian dishes to the list, thanks to Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market from chef Bruce Kalman and Marie Petulla.

This is the sophomore effort for Kalman and Petulla, who also co-own and operate Union in Pasadena. It's a long space in the ever-expanding market, a newcomer to a corner of newcomers (Ramen Hood, Courage & Craft) near the Broadway entrance. Check out the chalkboard, order in the center and grab a red metal stool along two counters — one situated right in front of the glass-enclosed pasta-making operation, and the other in front of the kitchen. Dishes veer from East Coast–style Italian-American fare to more California-centric seasonal dishes, but they're all centered around what the chef does best: make everything in-house, including all of the pastas, many of the cheeses, the desserts and anything he can do himself (soon there will be Knead salt-cured anchovies and a house-branded olive oil). It's soulful food for a place with a lot of soul. Take a look at some of the offerings below. Knead opens Sunday through Wednesday, 11 AM to 6 PM, and Thursday through Saturday, 11 AM to 9 PM. (Once breakfast starts, hours will change to 8 AM.)

317 S. Broadway

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  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    Kalman makes orzo with charcoal wheat, which adds a toothsome heartiness to this fresh salad with roasted cipollini onions, cauliflower, golden raisins, goat cheese and pistachios.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    The panini aren't what you expect. The porchetta dip is a riff on the classic French dip made with thick slices of Kalman's famous roast pork, pickled mustard seed and roasted rapini on a crunchy baguette from Etchea bakery. You'll want the side of pork jus for dipping. There's also a veg version made with roasted cauliflower steak, pickled fennel, arugula and lemon aïoli.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    Showing off some of the myriad pasta shapes to come out of Knead, many of which can be purchased from the little marketplace, is this curly porcini lasagnette. It holds the wild mushrooms, garlic and herbs quite well.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    To keep on trend, this grain bowl is made with Grist & Toll grains, fresh mozzarella, heirloom carrots, Koda Farms chickpeas, carrot-top pesto and walnuts.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    The classic bucatini all'amatriciana, long strands of al dente pasta tossed in a rich tomato sauce made with guanciale and chiles, gets a generous shaving of pecorino cheese.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    It doesn't get much more old-school than baked ziti with a blanket of melted mozzarella cheese.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    These panzerotti are a cross between a fried hand pie and a pizza, with a soft, slightly sweet dough that gets a crisp, golden glow from the fryer. Inside...

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    ...tomato, mozzarella and basil, or fennel sausage and peppers. This is a great snack to eat while walking around the market.

  • Credit: Knead & Co.

    All who make meatballs will be judged harshly, and these are some of the best in town. They're topped with Sunday gravy, a rich and meaty tomato stew. You can get meatballs on their own or with spaghetti.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    Desserts include made-to-order zeppole, the Italian donut tossed in powdered sugar.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    Not only does Kalman use Grist & Toll flour in the housemade cannoli shells, but he also makes the ricotta used in the filling. You'll be hard-pressed to find better in town.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    There is lots of seating around Knead, but there are always tables strewn around the market as well as the tables outside on Broadway or on the Horse Thief patio on the Hill Street side.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    Gorgeous fresh pastas, along with bagged varieties, plus sauces, Kalman's spice rubs, Hepp salts, olive oils and other goods are available in the marketplace.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    A moment of no line — it doesn't last long.