LAGuide

The Best Pasta Dishes In LA

When you’re dead set on eating some carbohydrates and sauce, let this guide be your roadmap.

The Best Pasta Dishes In LA guide image

photo credit: Krystal Thompson

Look, we’re not going to stop you from busting out some Kraft and eating it straight from the pot, but we will let you know that there are tons of better options when you’re in the mood for pasta—like these nine dishes from restaurants across the city. Whether you’re looking for bolognese showered with 60-month-aged parmigiano reggiano or a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, head to these spots.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Jakob Layman

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8.3

Mother Wolf

Mother Wolf is the second restaurant by the chef from Felix, who is famous for making some legendary cacio e pepe. We’re happy to report that this incredible bowl of pasta has made the trek to Hollywood unharmed. This creamy, peppery masterpiece would be our favorite pasta here if it wasn’t for the rigatoni all’amatriciana. The classic Roman dish is a perfect balance between the rich and crispy guanciale, the slightly sweet pomodoro sauce, and the salty kick of the pecorino romano on top. We’ve come to Mother Wolf simply to eat this bowl of pasta at the bar at 5:30pm, and we’d gladly do it again.

The spicy pomodoro at this Italian spot in West Adams might just be our favorite pasta we’ve ever eaten in LA. The bowl comes filled with thick, conch-like noodles tossed in creamy, bright-orange pomodoro that's topped with a giant dollop of ricotta and basil. It’s spicy, sweet, and herbaceous with just the tiniest hint of truffle at the end. If you get one dish at Cento, make it this one.

photo credit: Jakob Layman

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8.5

Antico Nuovo

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If you need help visualizing what the heck the Plin Dell’ Alta Langa is at Antico Nuovo, just picture tiny pillow-shaped agnolotti stuffed with ground beef cheeks, pancetta, and a bit of rabbit, then braised in butter and sage. The housemade pasta is perfectly al dente, and all of the meats blended inside are as balanced as a barbershop quartet’s harmonies. This dish alone is an excellent reason to keep this Italian spot in Koreatown in your rotation of romantic date spots, but you should also come here for some of the best ice cream in town.

Much like Oprah is famous for giving out cars, Felix is famous for dishing out caio e pepe. You’ll notice this creamy bowl of pecorino-topped tonnarelli on almost every table in the restaurant, and for good reason. Unlike other renditions around town, they don’t skimp on the pepper, and the result is a dish that tastes like what might happen if fresh peppercorns were made into a perfume and coated along each piece of paste, one-by-one.

photo credit: Krystal Thompson

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8.2

Union

$$$$(626) 795-5841
Hours:SUN
4PM-11PM

If you live in Pasadena, you know about Union. But if you don’t, it’s time you learn—this Italian spot serves pastas worth driving for, even if you live in the farthest part of Marina del Rey. There’s an excellent carbonara/cacio e pepe mashup made with tonnarelli that’s so thick, it could almost pass for udon. It tastes like grown-up mac and cheese. You’ll like it.

Pasta Sisters is a build-your-own bowl situation, with locations in Mid-City and Culver City, where you choose a type of noodle—pappardelle, tagliatelle, spaghetti, penne, or gnocchi—and a sauce to go with it. Of all the direct-from-Italy items coming out of their kitchen, we always order the pesto—the best sauce here. It’s perfectly made, super simple, and, for a short time, will make you feel like you’re on that Italian vacation your coworker has tortured you with on social media all summer.

We thought we had seen every iteration of spicy rigatoni possible, and yet here comes the version at Pijja Palace to school us. Malai, or clotted cream, adds a distinct richness to the spiced tomato sauce at this inventive sports-bar-slash-Indian-restaurant in Silver Lake—the cream is often used to enrich Indian puddings or curries, and here helps create a cozy, creamy bed for the al dente pasta.

Bestia is the kind of legendary Arts District spot where snagging a table requires a small prayer to the Reservation Gods, but the struggle will be worth it when their cavatelli alla norcina hits your table. The creamy, ricotta-filled pasta tubes in this dish are mixed with garlicky pork sausage, then topped with a luxurious serving of shaved black truffles. You’ll cycle through feelings of love, passion, and joy while eating this $45 pasta dish, and that’s more than we can say about any other cavatelli dish in town.

Located in a downtown El Segundo strip mall, Jame Enoteca looks a bit like a suburban chain restaurant on the inside, but don’t let that deter you. This tiny Italian spot makes some incredible handmade pasta. Our favorite is the mandilli—a plate of pillowy handkerchief pasta in a nutty pesto sauce.

Loading up your table with pasta at a Nancy Silverton restaurant is a strategy we approve of, but if you can only do one at The Barish, go for the rigatoni. It comes stuffed with goat cheese and a rotating list of seasonal vegetables like sweet corn, squash, and sweet carrots. This colorful dish will transport you to cuffing season even in the midst of a record-breaking summer heatwave.

Ah, here it is. Jon + Vinny’s spicy fusili—arguably the most famous plate of pasta in LA and probably the reason you got hooked on Jon & Vinny’s in the first place. And guess what? It’s still worth ordering. Yes, it can be a bit inconsistent at times (varying portion sizes, overcooked noodles), but when it’s good, it’s great, and that spicy vodka sauce will be flow through your dreams for weeks. But keep in mind, J+V makes plenty of other pasta dishes, too: supple ravioli bathing in pomodoro, a nice radiatori pesto, spaghetti limone... the list goes on. 

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