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Tortellini in brodo at Alimento
Photograph: Dylan + Jeni Tortellini in brodo at Alimento

The 22 best Italian restaurants in L.A.

Get a taste of the Old World at L.A.'s best Italian restaurants that go beyond the usual pizzerias and red sauce joints

By Katherine Kims and Stephanie Breijo
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With an abundance of Italian restaurants in this city, Angelenos need not hop a plane or even look far to get their fix of antipasti, meaty roasts, comforting bowls of carbs—and, of course, plenty of pizza. (Maybe even some gelato for dessert? Perhaps some tiramisu?) And while there’s artful Italian food in just about every neighborhood across the city, certain spots really take the cake—er, cannoli, as it were. Here we round up L.A.’s best Italian restaurants that go beyond your average ho-hum red sauce joints. Buon appetito!

Before you dig in, a brief note: All of these restaurants are currently open in some form, though these days are strange days for restaurants and some might only be offering takeout service or limited menus. Call or look online to check menus and availability before stopping by.

 

The top 22 Italian restaurants in L.A., ranked

Agnolotii at Bestia
Photograph: Becky Reams

1. Bestia

Restaurants Italian Downtown Arts District

Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis’s Arts District spot sets the standard for what dining out can mean in Los Angeles: perfectly crafted cocktails and a condensed selection of great, lesser-known wines meet not-too-fussy plates that wow in a setting that’s cool and casual but not too relaxed. 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.

Lasagne verde at Angelini Osteria
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

2. Angelini Osteria

Restaurants Italian Fairfax District

Angelini Osteria is going nearly two decades strong as a top Italian institution. What’s not to love at this no-frills space that packs in diners devoted to the 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.

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Photograph: Courtesy RossoBlu

3. Rossoblu

Restaurants Italian Downtown Fashion District

Silken handmade pastas, tender slivers of eggplant under tomato sugo, delicate dumplings in broth, and flame-licked, dry-aged steaks are just a few of the signatures at Rossoblu, chef Steve Samson’s stunning ode to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. House-made salumi lends itself perfectly to the amari collection waiting behind the bar and is always a perfect start while the former Sotto chef sets to work on your milk-braised pork shoulder, brick chicken and stuffed zucchini within the open kitchen. The industrial-modern space is pared-down—all the more for the focus to fall on Rossoblu’s tremendous cooking.

Felix best restaurants in Venice
Photograph: Jesse Hsu

4. Felix Trattoria

Restaurants Italian Venice

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 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.

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Osteria Mozza
Photograph: Kelly Campbell

5. Osteria Mozza

Restaurants Italian Hancock Park

Nancy Silverton’s fine dining star continues to pack tables despite a growing collection of new restaurants in the area (including some of her own, just next door). It probably has to do with the fact that Osteria Mozza offers exceptional Italian food and an encyclopedic wine list, not to mention a mozzarella bar that features more than a dozen small plates showcasing the handcrafted varieties, from cream-filled burrata to spongy bufala. Load up on antipasti to share and pace yourself through courses of refined, handmade pastas and rustic, meat-heavy mains.

The Factory Kitchen
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

6. The Factory Kitchen

Restaurants Italian Downtown Arts District

At The Factory Kitchen the pasta is exceptional, but so is everything else. Matteo Ferdinandi and chef Angelo Auriana built one of L.A.’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.

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Tortellini in brodo at Alimento
Photograph: Dylan + Jeni

7. Alimento

Restaurants Italian Silver Lake

Zach Pollack’s refined Italian restaurant serves up versions of classic dishes with unique twists thanks to the former Sotto chef’s creative blend of techniques and influences. Delicate pastas and hearty lunch fare (such as that massive, now-iconic chicken Milanese sandwich) leave you expecting one thing and tasting something entirely different, in the best way imaginable. If there is one dish to especially come here for it’s the tortellini in brodo, executed perfectly under Pollack’s detail-oriented eye.

Grilling cooking class at chi SPACCA in Los Angeles
Photograph: Courtesy chi SPACCA

8. chi SPACCA

Restaurants Italian Hancock Park

Nancy Silverton’s Italian salumeria and steakhouse is one of a kind in a city filled with both steakhouses and alluring Italian restaurants. It’s cozy and uncomplicated, serving classic salads and house-cured meats as well as porcini-rubbed short ribs, a gargantuan bisteca Fiorentina, spiced lamb ribs, 50-day–dry-aged steaks and other hearty, meaty fare fit for a king and all artfully helmed by chef Ryan DeNicola. Stop by for a bite or a true splurge-worthy meal.

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Cacio e Pepe pizza at Pizzana Los Angeles
Photograph: Courtesy Pizzana

9. Pizzana

Restaurants Pizza Brentwood

Pizzana is what happens when Neapolitan-style pizza meets California produce. Italian (as in straight-from-Italy) chef Daniele Uditi masterfully helms the kitchens in Pizzana’s Brentwood and WeHo locations, where he crafts and throws crusts made from organic, stone-ground Italian flour, with his own grandparents’ yeast starter brought over from Italy. Imported mozzarella tops pies, as do local ingredients both consciously harvested and grown. At lunch, super-stacked sandwiches grace the menu along with seasonal small plates sporting family recipes. The cacio e pepe pizza topped with rich parmesan cream is a highlight, but we can’t ever deny the Corbarina, made with squash blossoms, burrata and gremolata. The pizza is the undeniable draw here, but the daily specials and wood-fired vegetables are always worth an order, too.

Jon & Vinny's pizza in Los Angeles
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

10. Jon & Vinny’s

Restaurants Italian Fairfax District

As Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo’s first namesake restaurant, Jon & Vinny’s harkens back to the food both chefs grew up with: Italian-American comfort food that conjurs 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 is tomato sauce, though. It’s served over large meatballs, exceptionally seasoned and flanked by ricotta and some fantastic slices of garlic bread. It’s served on pizza, too, of which the most popular at Jon & Vinny’s is the L.A. Woman, a simple pie topped with burrata and basil and a sprinkling of sea salt. 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 you’re stopping by.

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