The Best Italian Restaurants In LA
photo credit: Jakob Layman
While LA might be better known for our excellent Mexican food, top-notch Thai, and endless sushi 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. From classic red-sauce spots to places with pasta maestros straight out of Padua, these are the very best Italian restaurants in LA. If you're looking for the best pizzerias in LA, don't worry, you can find those here.
Unlike many Old Hollywood restaurants in LA, a great meal at La Dolce Vita—which originally opened in 1966 with Frank Sinatra as an investor—doesn’t hinge on cutesy nostalgia. Instead, this revitalized Beverly Hills landmark offers excellent Italian American classics, elite service, and legit Hollywood history, all in a moody dining room that feels completely of the moment. We particularly love the juicy bone-in veal parm and spicy shrimp diavola appetizer, but you should also throw in for a creamy tableside caesar and one of the smoothest martinis in the world.
Antico Nuovo is, in the most literal sense, new Antico—a refined version of the rustic Italian spot that opened between Larchmont and Koreatown in 2019. Sit at the bar and you’ll get first-row seats to the chefs twirling pasta, pulling scorching hot pizzas out of the oven, and inspecting every plate with the concentration of a jewel appraiser. There’s not a bad dish here. Focaccia is mattress-thick and brushed with olive oil, while the plump agnolotti comes filled with beef cheek and pancetta. If you don’t order ice cream at the end, return ASAP.
Cento's indoor/outdoor space in West Adams is the textbook definition of a neighborhood wine and pasta bar. There’s a front patio filled with string-lit trees and a bright dining room with a communal table where groups drink more natural wine than they do water. Cento’s menu is well-stocked with dishes like chicken liver crostini and a banana pudding tiramisu that will live in your subconscious for weeks. But, at the end of the day, you’re here to eat great pasta: spicy pomodoro with basil, squid ink mafaldine, and the iconic beet spaghetti drenched in brown butter and whipped ricotta.
They take pasta 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 meatballs and their focaccia.
This neighborhood red sauce joint in Echo Park is working hard to channel retro glamour without necessarily being a special occasion destination. You'll see gold curtains in the entryway, gaudy wallpaper dotted with fruit trees, and pinwheel-shaped lasagna on practically every table. If those details sound a touch over the top for a Thursday night, that's kind of the point. But nothing about Donna's feels cheesy in practice. It's run by the team behind Bar Flores and Lowboy, which means the cocktails are unsurprisingly incredible. While the Italian American staples may not be reinventing any wheels, they're also not dull. Come for a martini and some well-made chicken parm the next time you're in a bad mood.
Bestia almost single-handedly turned the Arts District into a dining destination, and after a decade of business, it's not slowing down anytime soon. The industrial dining room is buzzy and fun, the cocktails and wine list are stellar, and the food is gleefully rich, whether you go for the mussels with spicy 'nduja, roasted lamb neck and anchovies, or a simple plate of pasta or pizza.
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 the blink of an eye and experience what’s probably the most quintessential old-school Hollywood vibe in the city.
Chi Spacca is one of three restaurants anchoring Nancy Silverton’s Mozza monopoly at Melrose and Highland. While the Pizzeria and Osteria are more popular, Chi Spacca is the best of the bunch. Located in a small red dining room, eating at this Italian steakhouse is like attending a dinner party inside a famous novelist’s wine cellar. It’s an upscale experience (expect to pay well over $100 per person) where one bottle of wine leads to three, and suddenly you’re staring at salumi platters, bone marrow pie, and a steak the size of a hubcap. If you’re in the market for a splurgy, throw-down meal, few places fit the bill better than Chi Spacca.
Jones’ food is good, but it’s not the best on this list. That said, you won’t find a better red-checkered tablecloth atmosphere than at this Weho staple—which feels Old Hollywood, but not in a 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 served in a skillet, the spicy sausage pizza, and one of the best desserts in the whole city: their apple pie.
Jame looks more like a chain sandwich shop than a legitimate Italian restaurant. But make no mistake, this tiny spot in a downtown El Segundo strip mall is home to some very good food. Whether it be the giant plate of prosciutto, pesto mandilli, pork shank, or an all-time great kale salad, the food at Jame is consistently delicious and surprisingly well-priced. Jame is the kind of place to bring out-of-town friends or show up alone on a weeknight to take down a few bowls of pasta (yes, we’ve done both).
Mother Wolf serves a lot of the same dishes as sibling spots Funke and Felix, like al dente rigatoni all’amatriciana, some airy focaccia, and a famous plate of cacio e pepe. The difference here is that Mother Wolf is in Hollywood and it's cooler than both of Evan Funke's other restaurants. Meals feel like Fashion Week after-parties, if only those events took place inside Roman banquet halls. Reservations can be hard to come by, so we recommend planning in advance the next time you want to eat a crispy margherita pizza in a fun, sceney room.
In Silver Lake, there’s a fine line between essential restaurants and essential Instagram restaurants. But rest assured, this neighborhood staple is still excellent nearly a decade after it opened. This has a lot to do with the dreamy chicken liver crostone and the radiatori pasta tossed in a spicy pork sugo, but frankly, you can order almost anything on the menu (including the beautifully pink-in-the-middle tri-tip) and be guaranteed a pleasant meal.
You could walk past this tiny Italian spot on Beverly Blvd. a hundred times (there's now a second location in the Palisades) 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.
Between the truffled mushrooms and polenta, briny squid ink lumache, and torchetti with fried rosemary on top, Union serves the kind of bold and delicious Italian food that you'd be thrilled to find anywhere in the city, let alone the chain-store hub that is Old Town Pasadena. If you’re looking for a fancy, impress-the-hell-out-of-somebody kind of dinner on this side of town, there are few options better than Union.
Brentwood is a neighborhood with a lot of Italian restaurants (so many that we felt obliged to rank them), but Divino is hands-down the best one. Unlike the painfully quiet trattorias on San Vicente where you can hear utensils scraping against plates, this nautical-themed spot on Barrington is buzzing with a chatty dining room full of families sharing some of the best pasta dishes on the Westside. The silky beef carpaccio is the ideal start to a meal here, and we highly recommend the creamy chicken ragú that’s way more flavorful than it sounds. And save room for dessert because getting the tiramisú is non-negotiable.
Despite being in the heart of Venice (Beach), Barrique is closer to a neighborhood restaurant you’d find in Italy, with minimal decor and a menu of simple dishes that happen to be very good. That 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.
The latest Evan Funke joint. Unsurprisingly, this Italian restaurant also makes exceptional pasta, namely some hand-stuffed agnolotti pinched with the expertise of a dough architect in Piedmont. But Funke is gaudier than its siblings Mother Wolf and Felix, and it's also located in Beverly Hills. So just be aware that the dining room looks like a Vegas hotel lobby. Which is to say, it's a little tacky and you're about to spend a minimum of $200 dollars inside. This isn't to say the food isn't great. It really is.
The second location of one of LA’s best pasta spots, Pasta Sisters in Culver City might be even better than the original—mainly because it’s the one where you can drink wine on a patio. Most of the bowls are build-your-own, meaning you get to choose the type of pasta and sauce (except for the clams and garlic, which they’ll only serve with spaghetti). Our favorites are the pesto with tagliatelle and bolognese with pappardelle, but when you’ve got freshly made pasta and sauces this good, you really can’t go wrong.
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 talking 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, Giorgio’s still holds a place in our hearts.
This Inglewood Italian American restaurant is the kind of place that was made for lazy Sunday nights. It feels casual and comforting, like a new-school spot with the bones of an old-school one. That’s probably because the brother and sister team behind Sunday Gravy took over their dad’s pizza joint and gave it a total revamp. Tables are covered in red checkered tablecloths, but the bumping playlist mixes rap and R&B. Order the spaghetti and meatballs and a chicken parm sandwich, or some lasagna with a side of cheesy garlic bread.