No matter what corner of America you’re in, one thing rings true – a piece of pizza and a bowl of pasta go a long way. A really long way. Americans love eating Italian food more than almost anything else and Los Angeles is certainly no exception.
Despite our affinity towards Mexican cuisine and our endless outlets to top-notch Thai, Japanese, and Middle Eastern food, Los Angeles is absolutely stacked with first-class Italian restaurants. And while everyone seems to have their personal neighborhood Italian spot, not all our created equal. Here is your guide to knowing exactly where to find the best Italian in Los Angeles.
You could probably walk past this dime-sized Italian spot on Beverly a hundred times and not notice it, but that would be a horrible decision on your part. Because for well over a decade, Angelini Osteria has been serving some of the best old-school Italian dishes in the city. Just don’t let its rather non-descript, industrial space deceive you – this is where real pasta happens.
Frankly speaking, there are restaurants and then there is Bestia. It’s hard to argue there’s been a more game-changing, neighborhood-altering restaurant than this hyper-industrial Arts District destination. Everything from their pizzas and pastas to roasted bone marrow is phenomenal and we only recommend giving yourself the time (as in 2+ hours) to experience it all.
Because since when was late-night pizza with friends not a thing? Jones is a Weho neighborhood staple that’s still somehow enjoying its relatively under-the-radar status. The old-school Hollywood cool vibe inside is perhaps a touch put-on, but not in the way that makes you want to die inside. The crowd is laid-back (and gorgeous) and the pizza and pasta (and salads?) are criminally underrated. And don’t tell anyone, but they also have the best dessert in the city.
We don’t normally advise eating dinner in basements on Pico but when it comes to Sotto, we always make the exception. Because this lively and immensely romantic joint is serving absolutely fantastic southern Italian dishes that frankly surprise every time. Spicy octopus spaghetti? Clams with ‘nduja? Crank up that thermometer, people.
In Silver Lake there’s a very fine line between important restaurants and important restaurants on Instagram, and often times it’s the latter. But rest assured – Alimento is an extremely important restaurant. With an understated, white-walled interior you could easily mistake for your friends art gallery opening you forgot to RSVP to, Alimento fits perfectly along the most Silver Lake-y strip of Silver Lake. That lamb shank is a must-order.
Despite a name better suited from Downtown Disney than Downtown LA, Maccheroni Republic is serving some of the best pasta east of the 110. It’s also way more casual than you would think, with a great patio that screams date-night glory. Oh, and it’s BYOB. Godspeed lovers.
Jon and Vinny’s might be the newest spot on our list, but don’t let that diminish its standing. This contemporary Italian spot brought to us by the Animal guys across the street is delivering lights-out pasta, meatballs and one of the best new pizzas in town – The LA Woman. The interior might look more like a steam sauna in Helsinki than an authentic Italian joint, but let that be part of its allure.
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, time to put Giorgio’s back on your list.
GARLIC KNOTS. That’s all you really need to know about this kitschy Italian joint mere steps from the Venice beach. Oh and that it’s gigantic, crowd-pleasing pasta bowls are delicious and perfect for your big group dinner. Of course the vibe is cheesy and we love it. That courtyard patio is special when the sun goes down and mom and dad will be beside themselves.
Located in what has to the be the most nostalgia-obsessed neighborhood in the city (Los Feliz), Little Dom’s is a retro Italian spot that has all but become synonymous with this Eastside enclave. But serving accessible, comfort-laden Italian dishes in a space more suited for Long Island than LA, it’s not hard to fall deeply in love with everything Little Dom’s.
True to its Italian-American roots, Scopa is very sure to show off its ties to both New York City and Italy. And despite its trendy bar scene slam-packed with aggressively hot people trying to get more likes, Scopa’s authenticity holds up. So much so that we think this is one of the finest Italian joints on the Westside. It’s a bit fancier than what you usually find in the area, but there’s no denying this is big group/birthday dinner gold.
The term used for the building housing three of the most premiere Italian restaurants in the city – Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza, and Chi’Spacca – the Mozzaplex is arguably the epicenter of all Italian cuisine in LA. From the casual, late-night eats at the Pizzeria, to the traditional Northern Italian dishes at Osteria, and the meat parade from God over at Chi-Spacca, it’s hard to beat what’s happening at Melrose and Highland.
When it comes to high-end dining institutions in Los Angeles, it doesn’t get much bigger than Drago Centro. Serving the frenzied corporate dwellers of the Financial District, Drago Centro is where you go to lock down that client from Beijing or take your parents to tell them you’ve proposed to someone. The space is gorgeous and the food is excellent, all with a vibe that flat-out exudes importance.
Despite a restaurant-laden downtown core, Pasadena is oddly devoid of many places worth actually having dinner at. Enter Union, an Italian gastropub that in one fell swoop made a once-predictable dining scene actually exciting. Pretty much everything on the menu is worth-ordering and despite its well-earned reputation as a destination dinner spot, Union is still very much your midweek neighborhood go-to. Get to it Pasadena.
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, no doubt Dan Tana’s is brought up. You come to Dan Tana’s to eat classic, no-frills Italian dishes and experience what’s probably the most authentic old-school Hollywood vibe in the city.
“I’d like to drown myself in a bowl of pasta in an environment that is neither a scene nor my couch” is something we think to ourselves a little too often. Farfalla is the ideal neighborhood Italian spot that not only has a welcoming, low-key atmosphere, but also some of the best ravioli we’ve ever eaten. And if you’re stuck with someone carb-averse (we do live in Los Angeles), the menu has enough variety that even Paleo Courtney should be able to find something to eat.