10 Essential Italian Restaurants in Los Angeles

Last week, we released our 99 Essential Restaurants in Los Angeles package for 2017, along with its new sister list, the Freshmen 15 (for the newbie restaurants too young to make it onto the list, but which we love nonetheless). Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of Italian restaurants on the list — this is a town that loves its pizza and pasta. See below for the 10 Italian spots in L.A. so good we consider them to be essential, and peruse the entire list here!

Escolar crudo: eggplant, fennel pollen, mollica at Alimento
Escolar crudo: eggplant, fennel pollen, mollica at Alimento
Anne Fishbein

10. Alimento
"When I originally reviewed Alimento in September 2014, I could tell that Pollack had created something special. But ...it certainly didn't strike me as one of the best restaurants in the city. Two and a half years later, however, Alimento can absolutely bear the weight of that distinction. The meals I've had more recently there have been head-spinningly, stunningly great, so much so that at first I wondered if I'd stumbled into a fluke of lucky ordering and high kitchen morale. But subsequent meals have had the same magical quality. The mortadella pig-in-a-blanket and the escolar dishes have lost none of their shine, and newer menu additions live up to those early successes' precedent of greatness."
Read Alimento's full 99 Essentials blurb here.

Angelini Osteria
Angelini Osteria
Anne Fishbein

9. Angelini Osteria
"There is hardly a restaurant so ingrained in the life of its neighborhood or its customers as Angelini Osteria, a place that seems as if it has been here for all of civilized history. (In today’s restaurant market, 15 years practically is all of civilized history.) That it is such a classic Italian eatery, complete with no-nonsense, charming professional waiters, probably explains much of its timeless feel, as does the room full of older customers, many of whom come here every week and sit at the exact same table. (The people-watching at Angelini is outstanding, made all the easier because the tables are so thoroughly crammed together.)"
Read Angelini Osteria's full 99 Essentials blurb here.

Cavatelli alla Norcina, ricotta dumplings, housemade pork sausage, black truffles, grana padano at BestiaEXPAND
Cavatelli alla Norcina, ricotta dumplings, housemade pork sausage, black truffles, grana padano at Bestia
Anne Fishbein

8. Bestia
"Four years after opening its industrial-chic doors in the Arts District, Bestia remains one of L.A.’s few true perennial hot spots, and it still manages to thrill trend seekers and serious food nerds alike. The winning formula, concocted by Sprout restaurant group and chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis, consists of a buzzing warehouse space in the bottom of a loft building down one of the Arts District’s darkest streets, aggressively cheffy Italian cooking, and stellar drinks both at the bar and on the wine list."
Read Bestia's full 99 Essentials blurb here.

Slice of salami at Chi Spacca
Slice of salami at Chi Spacca
Anne Fishbein

7. Chi Spacca
"Chi Spacca still delivers what is probably the best charcuterie in town, offering daily selections of salumi, pâté and aged whole-muscle cured meats that just might deliver the most fragrant, ethereal form of fat you’ve ever tasted. There’s the insanely decadent beef and bone marrow pie, and the serious (and seriously expensive) Fiorentina steaks. These steaks are some of L.A.’s great special-occasion dishes, the char and blood and tang of them so memorable that the sense memory of eating them lasts for months. And, of course, you can’t miss the focaccia di Recco, the crispy, cheesy, crackly wonder that resulted from a years-long quest on the part of Nancy Silverton to re-create a focaccia she ate in the dish’s namesake Italian town."
Read Chi Spacca's full 99 Essentials blurb here.

Colombo's Italian Steakhouse & Jazz ClubEXPAND
Colombo's Italian Steakhouse & Jazz Club
Riccardo Ferraris

6. Colombo's Italian Steakhouse & Jazz Club
"People of all ages and all walks of life gather in the big circular booths and dine on old-school, upscale Italian cooking while listening to live jazz, which begins at 4:30 or 5:30 p.m. nightly. The bar is always packed with regulars, and the atmosphere is always joyful. The music’s pretty damn good, too. What should you eat? The steaks are the best bet, though if you’re in the mood for sauce-slathered pasta, or chicken piccata, there’s plenty of that type of thing to be had."
Read the full Colombo's Italian Steakhouse & Jazz Club 99 Essentials blurb here.

The L.A. Woman pizza is an instant classic.
The L.A. Woman pizza is an instant classic.
Anne Fishbein

5. Jon & Vinny's
"Jon & Vinny’s is a place where you can bring the kids and where you might also spot Kanye West and entourage, dining on pizza and pasta and soft-serve ice cream. And, man, what great pizza it is. The L.A. Woman is an instant classic; its crust is firm enough that its burrata topping doesn’t collapse your slice, which can be delivered to your mouth with grace and ease. For the most part, the chefs shy away from the kind of creativity you find across the street. Instead, you get meatballs that are an absolute paragon of the form, a blend of short rib and pork shoulder that’s mild and tangy in all the right ways, served with deep-red marinara."
Read the full Jon & Vinny's 99 Essentials blurb here. 

Rabbit porchetta at Love & Salt
Rabbit porchetta at Love & Salt
Anne Fishbein

4. Love & Salt
"It’s true that you can order a whole pig’s head here (with 48 hours’ advance notice), which comes with condiments and toast, but to me, the value lies in the menu’s slightly less confronting pleasures. Rigatoni — served in Parmesan brodo with wilted escarole, whipped ricotta and chicken meatballs — presents a perfect combination of comfort and intrigue, the bitter edge of the escarole soothed by the generous, creamy ricotta. The rabbit porchetta is disturbingly delicious, the buoyant rabbit meat rolled up with prosciutto and Swiss chard, splayed out over a stewy combination of black rice, farro, pine nuts and currants."
Read Love & Salt's full 99 Essentials blurb here.

Pizzeria Mozza
Pizzeria Mozza
Anne Fishbein

3. Pizzeria Mozza
"It’s hard to overstate the import and influence of Nancy Silverton in the grand story of L.A. dining, and you needn’t look farther than her three restaurants on the corner of Highland and Melrose to understand why her cooking is so admired and imitated. Pizzeria Mozza, which was the first of the three to open, remains one of the best pizzerias in the country, each pie lovingly crafted from Silverton’s now-famous dough and topped with the best Italian and Californian ingredients."
Read Pizzeria Mozza's full 99 Essentials blurb here.

Sotto's ciccioli (pork terrine, fennel, Taggiasca olives, orange)
Sotto's ciccioli (pork terrine, fennel, Taggiasca olives, orange)
AnneFishbein

2. Sotto
"Much was made of the Stefano Ferrara pizza oven when Sotto opened, and Sotto still turns out some of the best pizza in the city. That's no small feat — but there's much to laud in chef Steve Samson's nonpizza, hyper-regional Southern Italian cooking as well. He's quietly executing an exceedingly thoughtful range of vegetable antipasti, focusing less on unexpected flavors and more on the cooking method that best suits each individual ingredient, be it a marinated trumpet mushroom or a delicata squash."
Read Sotto's full 99 Essentials blurb here.

Spaghetti alla chitarra at Union
Spaghetti alla chitarra at Union
Anne Fishbein

1. Union
"There are few restaurants as tiny, bustling and convivial as Union, Bruce Kalman’s 3-year-old Cali-Italian restaurant in Pasadena. Large family groups commune at long tables, the babies among them happily gobbling pasta as their parents drink interesting Italian red wines. It’s the type of place where people stop in for a quick plate of pasta and a drink at the bar, a perfect first-date spot, a perfect 100th-date spot."
Read Union's full 99 Essentials blurb here.


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