The Best Italian Restaurants In LA guide image


The Best Italian Restaurants In LA

Here are the best Italian restaurants in LA, according to us.

No matter what kind of week you’re having, a bowl of excellent pasta goes a long way. Sure, you don’t need an excuse to eat cacio e pepe tonight, but the fact that it'll help you forget that someone drove into the side of your car as you were heading home from the body shop is a definite bonus.

While LA might be better known for our excellent Mexican food and endless top-notch Thai, sushi, and Korean options, our Italian restaurants are way better than the rest of the country gives us credit for. (We’re looking at you, New York City.) And this guide is here to prove it. This isn’t just a list of every good red-sauce place in town—this is a carefully selected group of the very best Italian restaurants in LA.



4921 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles
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If you’ve been missing this former Downtown pasta pop-up as much as we have, there’s no reason to feel gloomy anymore. Cento is back and even better than ever. The new indoor/outdoor space in West Adams is certainly bigger than the original operation inside Mignon, but it still maintains the look and feel of a neighborhood wine and pasta bar. There’s a cozy front patio filled with stringlit trees and a bright interior with a large communal table perfect for groups intent on drinking a lot of natural wine. Our move, however, is to snag a seat at the bar where you get a front-row seat to the show: spicy pomodoro covered in basil, and the iconic beet spaghetti drenched in brown butter, whipped ricotta, and chives. Cento’s expanded menu has plenty of excellent new dishes like savory chicken liver crostini and banana pudding tiramisu that will live in your subconscious for weeks, but at the end of the day, you’re here to eat a lot of pasta—which is still among the best in the city.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Chi Spacca review image

Chi Spacca

Chi Spacca is one of three restaurants that anchors Nancy Silverton’s Mozza empire at Melrose and Highland, and while the Pizzeria and Osteria are more popular, Chi Spacca is the best of the bunch. Located in a small red dining room, a meal at this meat-centric spot feels like an exclusive dinner party inside a famous novelist’s wine cellar. It’s an upscale experience (expect to pay well over $100 per person) where two bottles of wine lead to four bottles of wine and suddenly you’re staring at five plates of red meat. Is this your casual neighborhood hangout spot? Absolutely not. But if you’re in the market for a splurgy, throw-down meal where gluttony is a form of celebration, few places in LA fit the bill better than Chi Spacca. 

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You could probably walk past this tiny Italian spot on Beverly a hundred times and not notice it, but that would be a mistake. For well over a decade, Angelini Osteria has been serving some of the best old-school Italian dishes in the city. It’s fancy-ish and mature, and you should plan on dropping some serious money. It’s worth it though—from the lasagna verde to veal shank agnolotti with white truffles, Angelini is where you go to eat consistently top-notch pasta.

Jones’ food is very good, but it’s not the best on this list. That said, you won’t find a better red-checkered table cloth atmosphere than at this Weho staple—which feels Old Hollywood, but not in the corny way. The crowd is cool, attractive, and always down to party whether it’s for after-work drinks or late-night pizza. Get the spaghetti and meatballs (in a skillet), the spicy sausage pizza, and one of the best desserts in the whole city—the apple pie.

Antico Nuovo is, in the most literally literal sense, new Antico—a much-improved version of the rustic Italian spot that opened between Larchmont and Ktown in 2019. It’s Antico 2.0, a charming little restaurant that’s great for grown-up, decently nice dates or intimate dinners with your closest friends. Sit at the bar and you’ll enjoy first-row seats to pasta twirling, scorching hot pizzas pulled out of the oven, and the expeditor carefully inspecting every plate with the concentration of a jewel appraiser. There’s not a bad dish on here—focaccia is mattress-thick and drenched in olive oil; home-style agnolotti comes pinched around the edges and filled with pan drippings. If you don’t order ice cream at the end, return ASAP.

Ospi is an excellent Italian restaurant one block from the boardwalk that comes from the same people behind one of our other favorite Italian restaurants, Jame Enoteca. The menu is filled with razor-thin pizzas, vodka sauce-covered pastas, and big plates of meat like crispy scaled branzino and pork collar with pecorino. There’s also a fantastic wrap-around front patio that works for almost any occasion, whether it be a first date or a rowdy, wine-drenched feast with friends. Whoever you roll in with, be sure to make reservations well in advance - Ospi is still one of the hardest weekend tables to snag in the neighborhood.

When you think of the places in LA that have survived the test of time and more or less become integrated into the fabric of our city, Dan Tana’s is high on the list. You come here to eat classic, no-frills Italian dishes (like their glorious chicken parmesan), drink perfectly-made martinis that arrive in a blink of an eye, and experience what’s probably the most authentic old-school Hollywood vibe in the city.

When Union opened in Pasadena in 2014, it was one of the most popular Italian restaurants in LA. But after losing their TV competition-chef a few years later, things easily could’ve gone south. Update: They didn’t. Whether it’s mushroom and polenta, perfectly cooked octopus, or torchetti with fried rosemary on top, Union’s menu has zero misses, and is stacked with the kind of dishes that ruin all other versions you’ve ever eaten. If you’re looking for a fancy, impress-the-hell-out-of-somebody-important kind of dinner, make a reservation at Union immediately.

They take their pasta very seriously at Felix. As in, they-built-a-climate-controlled-pasta-room-in-the-middle-of-the-restaurant serious. Yes, it’s over the top, but this Abbot Kinney spot has become a Very Important Pasta Place over the years, so it’s paid off. That rigatoni you watched being made arrives as a very good amatriciana, and the cacio e pepe is a Westside legend. And while the pasta is the main event here, you definitely need to get involved with the starters, especially the insanely good meatballs and their excellent focaccia.

It’s rare to find a restaurant that can handle a power lunch between Paramount executives, a very last-minute first date, and dinner with your boyfriend’s mom, but Osteria La Buca is that restaurant. And it also happens to serve some of the best Italian food in Los Angeles. This place is cool, but low-key enough that you can walk in tonight without much of a wait. They make all their pasta in-house, and if you don’t order the bucatini carbonara, we’re no longer friends.

It is a bit of a stretch to call Pasta Sisters a restaurant. This tiny shop in a no-man’s-land part of Mid-City has three tables, a handful of bar seats, a busy takeout operation, and an order-at-the-counter setup. But Pasta Sisters has earned their spot on this list by being extremely good at making pasta. Here, you build your own bowl - choose yourpasta type and a sauce to go with it, and then use your powers of self-control to not eat the entire basket of focaccia they bring while you wait. The pappardelle bolognese is hard to pass up, but if you’re looking to go full food coma, get the porcini mushroom gnocchi.

Mother Wolf is the second restaurant from the Felix chef, and if you’re imagining another dark, intimate pasta room, think again—Mother Wolf is one big party. Located in a former printing press building in Hollywood, the massive space is glitzy, opulent, and feels like you’re in a ballroom at The Madonna Inn. There are big chandeliers, mirrored pillars, and giant pink booths full of groups of friends and coworkers knocking back many negronis. The tremendous menu includes plenty of classic Roman-style dishes like crispy margherita pizzas, perfectly al dente rigatoni all’amatriciana, and the best cacio e pepe we’ve eaten in Los Angeles. Reservations are extremely hard to come by, so we recommend planning far in advance. 

Located in a downtown El Segundo strip mall, Jame looks more like a chain sandwich shop than a legitimate Italian restaurant. But make no mistake, this tiny spot is home to some very, very good Italian food. Whether it be the giant plate of prosciutto, pesto mandilli, pork shank, or the best kale salad we’ve ever eaten, the food at Jame is delicious across the board, and a lot of it costs less than $20. Jame is the kind of place you can go to impress out-of-town New York friends or show up alone on a Tuesday night to take down a few bowls by yourself - we’re certainly guilty of doing both.

On occasion, Los Angeles can get you down. There’s never clean air when you need it, traffic dictates your daily schedule, and it seems like everyone is competing to have the cutest dog. When it all starts to feel like too much, head to Sunday Gravy. The all-white, brick-walled space in Inglewood feels like a trendy cafe in an old-school Italian restaurant’s body. And the comforting food coming out of the kitchen is exactly the kind of stuff you'd want for dinner on a lazy Sunday. From spaghetti and meatballs to a chicken parm sandwich, the red sauce classics here are masterful. But Sunday Gravy also takes the classic Italian dishes we know and love to glorious new heights during weekend-only specials, like white lasagna with creamy spinach and mushrooms. Just be sure to get here early before they sell out.

It’s not often we get excited about hotel lobby restaurants, but The Barish is a major exception. Located on the ground floor of The Hollywood Roosevelt, this Italian spot oozes genuine Old Hollywood glam from every pore. You’ll find Art Deco chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, leather banquettes, and a large marble bar just begging patrons to have a seat and drink a martini. The menu is filled with standout dishes like pillowy, ricotta-topped pizza fritta, steak tartare with mustard seeds and kohlrabi, and goat cheese-stuffed rigatoni that transports you to the holidays even if it’s July and you’re kind of sweating. Hollywood can never have enough fancy, pre-theater dinner spots, and The Barish is a welcomed addition to the list.  

If you think you’re in the wrong place, that means you’ve arrived at Eatalian Cafe. Located in a giant warehouse next to other giant warehouses in Gardena, Eatalian Cafe isn’t exactly a cafe. It’s a giant Italian food emporium that feels like a laid-back version of Eataly. There’s a long wrap-around pizza counter with a kitchen, espresso bar, gelato stand, and bakery. It’s overwhelming, so here’s your game plan: start with one of their pizzas (the prosciutto-topped Mimmo is our favorite), end with a cup of gelato, and take home a box of pastries for your bedside table.

Barrique is less an Italian restaurant, more a restaurant that you’d find in Italy. Which means lots of antipasti, a squid ink pasta with crab, and entrees like smoked duck and grilled ribeye. It’s also a prime date-night spot, partly because of the candle-lit interiors, but also the heavily accented Italian waiters.

Located on a quiet stretch of Long Beach not too far from downtown, Ellie’s is a quintessential neighborhood spot with a big front patio, a friendly staff, and excellent Southern Italian food. The pastas are all worth ordering - especially the shrimp and ’nduja tagliatelle - but the best thing here is the grilled bread with pork butter. At most Italian restaurants, bread and butter is a complimentary afterthought, but here, the pork butter and pickled carrots on top take it to another level completely. Be warned though, parking in this area is tough at night, so plan accordingly.

Frankly speaking, there are restaurants - and then there is Bestia. It’s hard to argue that there’s been a more game-changing, neighborhood-altering restaurant than this Arts District destination. Years into their reign, Bestia is as much of sh*tshow as ever - it’s a pain to get to and you’ll definitely have to wait 45 minutes even with your 9pm reservation - but the roasted bone marrow will make you forget about all of it.

In Silver Lake, there’s a very fine line between important restaurants and important restaurants on Instagram, and often times what you get is the latter. But Alimento is an extremely important restaurant. For us, this has a lot to do with the chicken liver crostone and the radiatori pasta, but frankly, you can order almost anything on the menu (including the not-very-Italian-sounding BBQ tri-tip) and be guaranteed an incredibly good meal.

Located in that magical oceanside junction where Santa Monica, the Palisades, and Malibu all collide into a who’s who of 1996, Giorgio Baldi is a flat-out LA classic. This is where you go to overhear Jane Fonda and Gwyneth Paltrow talk about school districts while an old Italian man gets pushy about his gnocchi. With people-watching this good and old-school dishes that remain excellent, it’s time to put Giorgio’s back on your list.

With a warm earth-tone aesthetic, a meat-and-cheese-heavy menu, and a roaring fireplace in the corner, every aspect of this Puglian restaurant on 3rd Street seems designed to comfort and relax. It’s also refreshing to be in an Italian restaurant in LA that doesn’t serve the same Northern and coastal standards as everyone else. There are only two pastas—and the slightly bitter, al dente orecchiette is a standout. The rest of the menu leans largely on traditional Puglian meat skewers, as well as imported Puglian cheeses that taste great spread across their house-made focaccia.

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