Get us in your inbox

Search
Mother Wolf Assorted Food
Photograph: Courtesy Eric Wolfinger

The best Italian restaurants in L.A.

Head to the city’s best Italian joints for pizza, pasta and gelato that’s more than worth going out of your way for.

Patricia Kelly Yeo
Edited by
Patricia Kelly Yeo
Contributor
Stephanie Breijo
Advertising

For a city supposedly full of gluten-sensitive diners, L.A. has far more than its fair share of Italian restaurants. Dizzying in scope, the city’s Italian dining scene offers pizza, pasta, antipasti, grilled meats and gelato in every subgenre of the cuisine under the sun, with more than a few hyper-regional spots, pasta or pizza specialists and Americanized red sauce joints to keep any carb lover happy for awhile, if not forever. And while there’s excellent Italian food in just about every part of L.A., certain spots really take the cake—er, cannoli, as it were. Worth traveling out of your way for, these 20 Italian restaurants in Los Angeles go above and beyond your average neighborhood trattoria when it comes to food quality, ambience and service. Buon appetito!

The best Italian restaurants in L.A., ranked

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Downtown Arts District

Over a decade later, Ori Menashe's original restaurant in the Arts District still sets the standard for modern Italian dining in Los Angeles. Perfectly crafted cocktails, a condensed selection of lesser-known wines and not-too-fussy plates of pasta, pizza and other items still wow in Bestia's industrial-chic setting. The house-cured salumi is a reason alone to visit, but the open kitchen nails preparations from light (house salad and crudo are a balance in flavors) to soul-satisfying (everything that comes out of the wood-burning oven and the outstanding pastas). Highlights include braised beef cheek-filled agnolotti and spaghetti rustichella, pomodoro sauced with buttery uni or crab.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Hancock Park

Since opening its doors in 2007, Nancy Silverton’s Melrose-and-Highland Italian bistro has grown into a multiplex that spans a pizzeria and a steakhouse (both on this list), as well as a to-go corner and retail shop. The fine-dining star, Osteria, continues to pack tables and churn out some of the city’s best Italian food (and an encyclopedic wine list), not to mention the mozzarella bar showcasing the handcrafted varieties of specialty cheese. Load up on antipasti to share, then pace yourself through courses of delicate pastas—Osteria's specialty. Don’t even think about skipping dessert, which always includes at least a few rotating flavors of the chef’s famous “Nancy’s Fancy” gelato and sorbet.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Hancock Park

Few restaurants can accomplish what Nancy Silverton's ode to Italian flame-grilled meats does on a daily basis. With one of the best charcuterie programs in the city and a stunning open kitchen, Osteria/Pizzeria Mozza's younger sibling flame-grills tomahawk porkchops, cures fennel salami and dry-ages massive Flannery Beef steaks so big they almost feel like they rock the table when they land. This is a rustic Italian steakhouse that’s worth the meat sweats, and it’s worth the splurge; you may be spending around $100 on steak, but don’t think about skipping the sides of roasted sustainable veggies—nor that delicious focaccia di recco, which oozes stracchino cheese (the dish lives in our hearts, no matter what else we try). Whatever you order, you’ll be in good hands.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Beverly Hills
  • price 4 of 4

From the glass-encased pasta workshop to the priceless works of art on the walls, Evan Funke’s newest eponymous multi-level restaurant has spared no expense for the glitzy-borderline-gaudy 90210 crowd. We’d extend this characterization to the menu itself, which introduces a brand-new section of hand-rolled pastas (“fatta a mano”), each named in part for the women who taught the chef how to roll these intricate, regionally specific pasta shapes. The prices here are sky-high, but Funke manages to deliver a show-stopping Italian meal in a similar vein to Felix and Mother Wolf, albeit in much, much fancier digs. While there isn’t a bad dish on the menu, we’d recommend skipping the $50 agnolotti. If you can’t snag a reservation—which are released seven days in advance—you can always try your luck upstairs at Bar Funke, the glittering pink marble bar that only takes walk-ins (but doesn’t serve pasta).

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Venice
  • price 3 of 4

Evan Funke lives his restaurant life with a few key beliefs, and the most irreverent might just be “Fuck your pasta machine.” The Italy-trained chef holds such a reverence for tradition that at Felix, his Venice bungalow trattoria, all pasta is made by hand behind a large window so you can marvel at the method as you dine. Of course the pasta isn’t the only draw here, and how could it be? The fluffy sfincione (Sicilian focaccia) has its own cult following, while antipasti such as the stuffed-and-fried squash blossoms can be spotted on practically every table. Note: Years in and you’re still going to need a reservation here.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Koreatown
  • price 3 of 4

After weathering the pandemic, Chad Colby’s first restaurant has turned over a new leaf—hence the addition of “Nuovo.” The tightly curated menu of panes antipasti, pastas, wood-fired mains and vegetables feels more focused than ever; the delicate housemade pastas sit in pools of carefully prepared sauces; and there is, of course, Antico Nuovo's silky ice cream, made famous during lockdown. Every dish is excellent, but you’d be hard-pressed not to order at least one order of Colby's thick focaccia, whether your tastes veer towards briny anchovies or creamy burrata in scallion oil. Ragu lovers will rue the day they try the beef check and veal tongue version offered here—the dish will probably be ruined for them anywhere else.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Hollywood
  • price 3 of 4

Located in the heart of Hollywood, Mother Wolf is pasta maestro Evan Funke’s ode to hyper-regional Roman cuisine. The Hollywood restaurant’s all-around glamorous dining room, complete with red banquette seats, mirrored columns and chandeliers, might conjure up visions of grand old New York City dining rooms, but the sprawling menu of pane, pasta, pizza and more feel more of-the-moment than anything else. Regulars at Funke’s smaller restaurant, Venice's Felix, might recognize a few dishes, but the elegant dining room, elevated approach to service and standouts like the bruschetta di porchetta and rigatoni all’amatriciana make Mother Wolf a must-visit for large groups, longtime fans of the chef and anyone else who loves a damn good cacio e pepe.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Fairfax District

For over two decades, this Beverly Grove osteria has been our favorite place in L.A. for an unfussy, unflaggingly delicious Italian meal. Every night, the no-frills space packs in diners devoted to the soulful, homestyle cooking of Emilia-Romagna–born chef Gino Angelini. Praises abound for branzino that’s salt-crusted and roasted whole, and weekly specials like Saturday-only porchetta stuffed with garlic and herbs and finished in the wood-burning oven. The pastas have cult followings here—try the signature lasagna verde “Omaggio Nonna Elvira,” which pays tribute to the Old World with beef and veal ragu and handmade pasta layers all topped with wilted spinach.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Hancock Park
  • price 2 of 4

Within her larger Hancock Park Mozzaplex, local celebrity Nancy chef Silverton's unapologetically Californian pizzas remain in a class of their own. Doughy, chewy and lightly charred, Silverton’s pizzas feature cheffy, farmers’ market toppings like squash blossoms and fennel sausage. Show-stopping meatballs and seasonal desserts, including the rotating flavors of house-made gelato, guarantee that Silverton's first sitdown restaurant—Osteria is her second—is still an excellent sitdown pizza experience and all-around gold standard pie in the city's diverse and growing pizza scene. 

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Fairfax District

Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s first namesake restaurant harkens back to the food both chefs grew up with: Italian-American comfort food that conjures up images of red-checkered tablecloths and bubbling tomato sauce. No, the decor isn’t quite there—the whole restaurant is sleek and awash in white oak that evokes more of a Scandinavian feel—but there’s still plenty of tomato sauce. It’s served best over large meatballs, exceptionally seasoned and flanked by ricotta and some fantastic slices of garlic bread, plus. Of course you’ll need an order of the spicy vodka fusilli pasta, and you’re definitely going to need a reservation, regardless of which location (Fairfax, Brentwood, Slauson, Beverly Hills) you’re stopping by.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Adams
  • price 2 of 4

Now a fully realized West Adams restaurant, this longtime pasta pop-up has made it to the brick-and-mortar big leagues, and the city’s carb lovers are richer for it. Here, you’ll find former Bestia chef Avner Lavi’s memorable beet spaghetti, plus seasonal antipasti, secondi and dolci with Middle Eastern flourishes that work unexpectedly well: a sprouted cauliflower with plump golden raisins, beef osso bucco with Persian lemon, saffron panna cotta with pink peppercorns and blood orange. Inside, you’ll find a marble-topped chef’s counter and larger-than-life themed piece of pasta art, while an expanded, string-lit outdoor patio with olive trees hosts romantic dinners well past golden hour.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Los Feliz
  • price 2 of 4

In a city already full of osterias, trattorias and seemingly every possible permutation of Italian restaurant under the sun, this Los Feliz stunner comes straight from Milan and stands out thanks to a northern Italian bill of fare that exudes refinement in its simplicity. Highlights like veal pate, saffron risotto and Dal Milanese’s must-order ossobuco might not have the in-your-face quality of the fare at Hollywood’s Mother Wolf or Venice’s Ospi, but they provide much subtler, deeper levels of satisfaction, especially when paired with a glass or two from the hyper-regional Italian wine list. For those into molten lava cake, the restaurant’s version is the platonic ideal. Factor in the candles on every table and warm neighborhood atmosphere—and you’ve got a great place near Hollywood and Silver Lake for date night or a get-together among friends

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • West Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

Dan Tana’s is hardly about the cooking. It’s not that the simple, old-fashioned Italian-American fare is bad: it’s more that the Old Hollywood atmosphere is wonderfully thick. Long-time servers can tell you what L.A. was like back when this red-sauce joint was cutting-edge, a time when they were much younger but Dan Tana’s looked the same. When you do manage to peel your eyes from the checkered tablecloths and the hanging bottles of chianti and take a look at the menu, you’ll find some of our favorite indulgences in town: Baskets brimming with slabs of cheesy garlic bread; chicken parm swimming in a plate of marinara; piles of chopped salad; breaded-and-smothered veal piccata; and massive steaks, with entrées served with a side of pasta (always go aglio olio) and best accompanied by a bracing martini or three.

Reservations available via phone at 310-275-9444.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Santa Monica
  • price 1 of 4

“We’ve come a long way, baby,” is probably what a plate of Uovo’s handmade pasta might say to you if it could talk. From the minds of Sugarfish comes Uovo, a quick-and-casual Italian restaurant (with Santa Monica, Mid-Wilshire, Marina del Rey and Studio City outposts) that only serves fresh pasta that’s been overnighted from Uovo’s own kitchen in Bologna, Italy. Sure, they could have just made the pasta here, but why do that when they can bring us all fresh noodles made in the world’s pasta epicenter? Look for classic pasta dishes from Rome and Bologna, among other locales, all under $20. With vegetable sides at $8 and $10–$16 wines by the glass, this is one of the most affordable ways to dine Italiano—and it’s definitely cheaper than a flight to Bologna.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Santa Monica

Now with two locations on Montana Avenue and Venice’s Main Street, Forma is a Westside dining destination with two major reasons on the menu to visit: their beautifully plated cheese and charcuterie boards, and their pasta dishes tossed in giant wheels of Parmesan, pecorino romano and other types of hard Italian cheese. In the sea of Montana Avenue’s so-so chain restaurants and Santa Monica’s countless Italian eateries, Forma stands out as a go-to upscale neighborhood spot for a date, get-together with friends or any other special-ish occasion.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Old Pasadena
  • price 3 of 4

Nestled into a little side street in Old Town Pasadena is one of L.A.’s neighborhood-restaurant gems—and a date night destination if you live anywhere near Northeast L.A. Union is a charming, romantic and California-influenced ode to Northern Italian cuisine, the kind of place where handmade pastas only slightly steal the spotlight from humanely raised meats and fish served as the likes of salmon tartare and rabbit porchetta. The ingredients are local, the wine is flowing and the vibe is always intimate, relaxed and centered on the food—and how could it not be, with signatures such as the lobster-laden squid ink lumache in truffle butter?

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Silver Lake

Though no longer the hottest thing in town, Zach Pollack's Silver Lake restaurant still wows with signatures like the tortellini in brodo, radiatori with kale and fennel pollen and the beautifully crispy chicken Milanese sandwich (also available "red hot" style). The minimalist, casual interiors belie the higher than average price point, but if you're fine with spending over $50 a head on delicious small plates like a white bean and emmer soup served with griddled bread and saffron risotto tater tots, there's no better place in the general vicinity for pasta and aperitivo than Alimento. Just note: The restaurant charges $1.50 per person for unlimited still or sparkling water, and the dining room, even when half-full, is kind of loud.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Echo Park

Not too far from Alimento, Zach Pollack's modern red-sauce joint in Echo Park is a fun and saucy delight. Cosa Buona celebrates Italian-American cuisine with expertly crafted antipasti, salads and pizza, as well as what could very well be the best mozzarella sticks in town (smoked, of course, and perfectly crunchy). While Alimento is intimate and slightly more upscale, Cosa Buona is a pizza party: all done casually and even cheekily but with local ingredients. That’s not to say it’s just dressed-up classics here—Pollack and the Cosa team have a lot of fun with more modern combos such as BBQ chicken with house BBQ sauce and a jalapeño-topped take on Hawaiian pizza.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Hollywood

This casual, family-friendly Italian restaurant in Larchmont Village is as much of a place for dinner and date nights as it is for a lazy Sunday brunch or some burrata with a glass of wine with friends. Sleek but casual and always humming with diners, it’s a neighborhood spot that’s become beloved by the whole city since its debut back in 2005—and with good reason. The kitchen uses seasonal, local ingredients to create classic Italian dishes: pizza, pasta, dry-aged rib eye, seafood and more. On weekends diners flock here for polenta-ricotta skillet cakes and the Maria Verde, Osteria La Buca’s modern take on the classic Bloody Mary, but you can never go wrong—day or night—with La Buca’s decadent, egg-topped bucatini carbonara.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Downtown Arts District

At the Factory Kitchen the pasta might be exceptional, but so is everything else. Matteo Ferdinandi and chef Angelo Auriana built one of Downtown's most consistent and beloved Italian restaurants that’s home to iconic, traditional dishes left and right (the handkerchief pasta in Ligurian almond pesto, for instance, deserves its own Instagram account). The focaccia di Recco is some of the finest in the city, ditto the porchetta, and the daily specials are always—always—worth a gander.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • El Segundo
  • price 2 of 4

If you’ve made it this far on the list, you know that L.A. is chock full of great Italian restaurants. Make room in your heart for a few more, because Jackson Kalb’s hand-rolled pastas and weekday-only chicken parm are excellent additions to anyone’s Italian dining arsenal. With partner Melissa Kalb running front of house, all three of their restaurants (Jame Enoteca, Venice’s Ospi and Brentwood's Jemma di Mare) offer warm hospitality and memorable southern Italian cuisine, including a pomodoro sauce that takes a painstaking 36 hours to prepare. You’ll find a breezy local crowd at Jame while more tourists and “will drive for food” types populate Ospi, but both of the Kalbs’ restaurants offer pasta, crunchy arancini and big plates of meat, plus thin crust pizza and fett’unta (giant Tuscan toasts) at their boardwalk-adjacent Venice trattoria.

Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Advertising