L.A. has its fair share of regional Italian restaurants that craft artful plates of pasta and delicacies year-round. But when it comes to Italian-American restaurants—the kind of place where the meatball’s the size of your fist and that oregano-heavy tomato sauce has been simmering all day—these days, we’re in shorter supply. Thankfully, red sauce is making a comeback, and you can find it along with family-style portions of spaghetti and all the vibrant, loud, neighborly vibes at pop-ups and special nights happening around the city.
So before your uncle Antonio (my actual uncle) can yell, “Whatsamatta with you? You eating? Come on and grab a chair. Hey, Vinny! Grab ’em a chair! You can’t stay? You gotta eat at some fancy restaurant in Los Angeles?” check out these primo red-sauce nights.
Parm Boyz at Ronan
This is the parm party your nonna would’ve warned you about: You might down a few too many $10 cocktails or $40 bottles of wine, the vibe of the restaurant turns lively and raucous, and you’ll walk out fuller than overstuffed manicotti. The new pop-up night comes to us by way of Otium bar director Chris Amirault and Boston (and kitchen) expat Jake Kolack, who team up with and take over blistered-crust–pizza haven Ronan with a vengeance. Once a month, Parm Boyz brings the parm with an absurdly affordable $30 prix fixe that includes family-style antipasti, salad, a platter of both chicken and eggplant parm, plus some of the best tiramisu you’ll find in all of L.A. If that’s somehow not enough and you need to mangia some more, look for supplements such as the massive $35-per-couple hand-cut veal tomahawk chop done up parm-style with red sauce and gooey cheese. This isn’t your nonna’s kitchen, it’s a red-sauce blitz.
Monthly; 5:30pm–close. Next pop-up: November 10.
Sunday Lasagna at All’Acqua
Atwater’s homey Italian go-to always has pasta on the menu, but once a week, the charmer rolls out thick slices of lasagna to warm you up. Sundays are traditionally gravy days in Italian-American homes, given the time a rich sauce needs to simmer and the hours that meats need to braise, and you can keep a leisurely eye on the pot while friends and family stop in for visits throughout the day. All’Acqua keeps the Sunday tradition going with their lasagna affair, when rotating baked pastas featuring slow sauces, plenty of flavor and house-made noodles hit the table for $20 a person. Varieties have included lasagna bolognese with spinach pasta; mortadella lasagna with broccolini and béchamel; summer-vegetable lasagna with beet pasta; and enough lasagna with short rib ragu to feed and sate an army.
Red Sauce Dinners at Pizzeria Mozza
Mozza is the Italian house that Nancy Silverton built, and while her complex’s restaurants tend to embrace more traditional Italian cuisine—especially when it comes to her osteria and CHI SPACCA—the pizzeria can flip to an old-school red-sauce joint for those in the know. Want your own private red-sauce den? Silverton transforms Pizzeria Mozza for four-course private events, decking out the space with checkered tablecloths and massive family-style portions that include dishes such as steamed clams; garlic bread; cacio e pepe polenta; fried mozzarella; stuffed mushrooms; giardiniera; stuffed shells; tableside caesar; and marinated mussels.
Available for private parties.