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Kettle Black

PHOTOS: Jakob Layman

The cavemen had it right: cooking things over a fire is the best way to cook things. Exhibit A: S’mores. Exhibit B: Any piece of meat you’ve grilled. Exhibit C: Everything that comes out of the wood-fired oven at Kettle Black, an Italian spot in Silver Lake that straddles the line between upscale and casual.

Unlike cavemen when they figured out the fire thing, Kettle Black isn’t doing anything revolutionary. The menu reads like a modern Italian Greatest Hits, with plenty of pizza and pasta, a crudo here, some panzanella there. But as a neighborhood Italian restaurant, Kettle Black doesn’t have to be revolutionary - it just has to taste good. And it's doing pretty well on that front.

The restaurant sits right on the main Silver Lake drag and has quickly become the kind of place where locals stop in for a glass of wine and a bowl of pasta one week, and bring a bunch of friends for a birthday dinner the next. The space is clean and open, with a covered patio facing Sunset that's waiting for you and your negroni to take advantage of it.

Jakob Layman

The real reason you’re here though is right at the back of the space - that wood fired oven. From the meatballs, to the pizzas, to the wood-fired bolognese sauce, everything that comes out of the huge round container of fire is worth your time. The menu is simple, shareable, and full of crowd pleasers. The waitstaff are also truly helpful and engaged, and deal expertly with the inevitable dad jokes thrown their way when you end up here for dinner with parents. Because you will be bringing your parents here at some point.

Kettle Black isn’t a life-changing restaurant. It is, however, the kind of restaurant you could use more of in your life. Which is more than enough reason to go check it out.

Food Rundown

Pulpo

Another day, another octopus. This one comes cold (which we weren’t exactly expecting) with a salad of tiny round pasta and some heat from the ‘nduja (a spicy Italian sausage). It’s a perfectly fine way to start your meal and something kind of light before you get into the pizza and pasta.

Polpette

For such a simple dish, meatballs are surprisingly easy to f*ck up. Not the case here: they come out of the wood-fired oven and remind us of the very tasty giant meatballs at Jon & Vinny’s. Which is never a bad thing.

Eggplant

Rich and oily chunks of eggplant, again done in the wood oven. The slightly tangy sauce is our favorite part.

Patata Pizza

This pizza is like the grown-up version of when your mom used to sneak vegetables into your dinner. Allegedly there’s broccolini on there, but when we ate this we couldn’t see it, so we got to be healthy without even noticing. Also, somehow this tastes like carbonara, despite there being no pig products anywhere. Definitely order.

Garganelli Bolognese

Wood-fired bolognese sauce on top of perfectly al dente pasta. The sauce is a bit like the one that comes with the meatballs, but it’s still many times better than most meat sauces you’ve had before.

Cacio E Pepe

Probably go for another pasta instead of this one. It’s fine, but we’ve had better cacio e pepes.

Limoncello Cake

We can’t pass up limoncello in liquid form, so we obviously couldn’t pass it up in cake form. A classic, citrusy Italian-style cake that’s a great way to end the meal.

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