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8.5

Antico Nuovo

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In its former life, Antico wasn’t perfect. We even said so in our original review. Unlike the focaccia it served, the homey Italian restaurant on the border between Ktown and Larchmont just didn’t feel fully baked. The food was expensive, service was inconsistent, and many dishes, like a “run-of-the-mill burrata,” felt banal, as if they had forced their way onto the menu. But during the pandemic Antico evolved, morphing into a fantastic pizza and ice cream shop that quickly became one of LA’s best takeout options. Then it closed. Was Antico gone forever? No one knew. We longed to know what was happening behind its stately wooden doors.

When Antico finally reopened in the summer of 2021, it seemed like almost nothing had changed. A little soundproofing here, a few menu chops there; the word “nuovo” freshly painted on the awning. But like putting silk sheets on an old mattress or injecting a tasteful amount of forehead filler, its effects were immense. Antico became an escape to the Italian countryside, a place to commiserate with friends over silky sheets of fazzoletti pasta or split oil-drenched focaccia with a heart-eyed lover. It’s a classic Hollywood transformation story, the part of the Joseph Campbell wheel when the hero returns after facing the infinite abyss. Because Antico Nuovo is, in the most literally literal sense, new Antico: an Italian restaurant reborn, a place we’d happily bring dates, friends, parents, co-workers, or pretty much anyone in the world to.

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Pastas are made by hand; meats get cured in-house (would you expect anything less from the former head chef at Chi Spacca?) And if you look closely, you’ll spot an antique meat slicer in the back that they actually use. Fine cashmere throws are draped over nearly every surface and couples who choose to sit on the same side of the table. Warm lighting bathes the room in a sultry sort of glow; olive trees bloom between seats. Antico is undoubtedly a date spot, a place where you can lovingly gaze at your partner while sipping ancient Italian wine. But it’s fun for groups too—there’s a long wooden table perfect for recreating a Last Supper-esque feast with friends.

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Build your meal around the pasta. The ravioli is completely basic in a wonderful way anyone who loves red sauce will understand. The pappardelle—broad strands as thick as construction paper—is tossed with beef cheeks and gloriously salty veal tongue. For something even heavier, order the fazzoletti, a handkerchief-shaped pasta that folds over and over itself to create delicious duck offal ragu pockets. And no order is complete without the agnolotti, a home-style version of the dish stuffed with pan drippings. It’s sweet and cooked al dente, drenched in a sauce you’ll want to lick from the plate. From there, examine your companions and add/subtract dishes as necessary. The focaccia is a must, a house specialty that comes soaked in olive oil; the broccoli caesar adds a nice tangy crunch between courses. For groups, consider the bone-in rib-eye, which offers more than enough meat for three-to-four people. It’s juicy and prepared medium-rare and seared to absolute perfection. 

Oh, and that ice cream. Have you ever stared straight into the eyes of something greater than yourself and become aware of the fleeting beauty of existence? Because we have. And it was while eating this ice cream. It’s a miraculous blend of gelato, ice cream, and soft serve.

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A few useful tidbits to know: There’s only one dining room and it’s indoors, so don’t expect a patio or any outdoor dining. Second, be prepared to drop some serious dough—and no, this time, we’re not talking about the focaccia. Things get pricey after a few glasses of wine, and you’ll probably leave at around $100-$150 per person. If either of those are deal-breakers, don’t despair. For exactly one hour every day, from 4-5pm, Antico returns to its old pandemic self with sheet pizzas and pints of ice cream to go. Will Antico Nuovo ever stop surprising us? No one knows. And that's exactly the way it should be.

Food Rundown

Focaccia

We love this focaccia. We’ll scream it from the rooftops, WE LOVE THIS FOCACCIA. Globs of dough are placed into mini cast iron skillets, baked until golden, then drenced in extra virgin olive oil. It creates a crackly outer layer that’s extremely satisfying to break apart. Good on its own and even better paired with whipped ricotta or anchovies.

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Broccoli Castelfranco Caesar

Castelfranco lettuce—a wine-colored vegetable that tastes like its cousins, radicchio and endives—is tossed with broccoli and tangy caesar dressing. Look at that mountain of parmesan. Get this salad.

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Plin Dell’ Alta Langa

Even agnolotti's biggest fans might not recognize this dish on the menu. Which would be a mistake, obviously. Tiny pillows come stuffed with ground beef cheeks, pancetta, and a bit of rabbit, and braised in butter and sage. It’s like eating a kiss or falling asleep in a bubbling vat of sugo—hard to imagine now, but an amazing experience you won’t stop thinking about.

Jakob Layman

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Ravioli Di Nonna

Look at this, a very nice ravioli. Nothing fancy, just a bit of red sauce and a few basil leaves. You already know what it tastes like—and you know you'll like it.

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Fazzoletti

Long, silky pasta sheets cut like handkerchiefs. It's just like the one we found in our great grandmother's closet except slathered in duck offal ragu. Which, to be honest, we prefer. This one tastes smoky and earthy, a heavier pasta dish that pairs nicely with red wine.

Costata Fiorentina

It's a bit further down the menu, but this is where the chef really gets to show off his meat chops. The juicy ribeye weighs a ton, a slab sliced clean off the bone and placed in a pool of pan drippings. It works best for a group, especially since it’s sold at market price, which was $220 the last time we ate here.

Freshly Spun Ice Cream

Technology isn’t advanced enough to allow us to do what we want to do (reach through the screen and shake you at least three times while screaming “you must order this”) so we’ll have to settle for this caption instead. Get. The. Ice. Cream. It tastes like someone gathered the world's best gelato, ice cream, and soft serve in the world then spun it into a single dish. How is the texture so soft and pillowy? We’re traditionalists, so we prefer sweet flavors like honeycomb and cookies & cream, but we the focaccia and pistachio crunch are great too.

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