LAReview

photo credit: Jakob Layman

Mother Wolf review image
8.3

Mother Wolf

LA is no stranger to party restaurants—those chaotic destinations where the scene takes precedence over the food. Stumble around Venice long enough and you’ll find as many Tulum-inspired beach clubs as you will in Tulum. Hollywood Blvd. is stacked with Vegas-style monstrosities that still use glow-in-the-dark shots and sparklers as selling points. And don’t even get us started on the dystopian clout-chasing unfolding at Ardor. And yet, the energy at those places pales in comparison to the party happening inside Mother Wolf on a nightly basis.    

The upscale, Roman-leaning restaurant in Hollywood makes every social event we’ve ever been to feel like a church service. And while that’s probably enough to get plenty of people through the door once, what’s going to keep us coming back is the food—and the promise of a good time. 

Jakob Layman

Mother Wolf review image

Mother Wolf isn’t one of those restaurants that peaks around 8:00pm and the valet heads home by 9:30pm. We’ve witnessed this place at full-tilt well past 11pm on weeknights (even though they technically close at 9pm). The party starts the second you enter the ballroom-esque dining room. Ornate chandeliers hang from the ceiling. A negroni-fueled bar area makes Sunset Tower look like afternoon tea. More famous faces than the Don’t Look Up table read fill round pink booths. It feels part Las Vegas, part Carbone, and part Roman banquet hall—all crammed inside the Madonna Inn. Sure, it’s decadent and over-the-top, but it also never veers into club-staurant territory. There’s an air of precision at Mother Wolf that keeps things refined—especially when it comes to the pasta.

Mother Wolf is run by the same pasta-phile behind Felix, which opened in 2017 and is still one of the hardest tables to get in town. The cacio e pepe there is the stuff of legend and we’re happy to report it has made the trek to Hollywood unharmed. The peppery masterpiece would be our favorite pasta here if it weren’t for the rigatoni all’amatriciana. Filled with crispy chunks of guanciale and tossed in creamy pomodoro, this is the best dish at Mother Wolf and, along with that cacio e pepe, should be the centerpiece of your table. From there, build out your order with standout non-pasta dishes like the sweet and salty ricotta-filled squash blossoms, plump blue prawns that snap in your mouth with each bite, and simple, crispy margherita pizza.

Jakob Layman

Mother Wolf review image

While perfectly al dente pasta is going to play a big part in your meal, it’s important to note that not every dish (pasta or otherwise) is a home run here. The salads are fresh and nicely dressed, but ultimately forgettable, and the oxtail meatballs show up mushy and underseasoned every time we order them. There’s also an entire section of big plates of meat that you can probably skip unless you’re with your boss who only goes to restaurants to eat steak and talk down to people. Nothing on Mother Wolf’s menu is downright bad, but arriving with a tight order of the best dishes will be the difference between a good meal and one you’ll be talking about for weeks.

The combined elements of Mother Wolf could easily overwhelm you. Hell, even snagging a table requires digital strategizing (reservations must be made exactly one week in advance, or—do what we do: show up unannounced and try your luck at the bar). That said, it’s also just as easy for us to remember a time—not that long ago—when we wondered if splashy, over-the-top restaurants would ever be a thing again. The mere existence of Mother Wolf is proof that it’s time to party.  

Food Rundown

Pizza Rossa

If you showed up to Mother Wolf really hungry or are planning to carbo-load before one of those obstacle course races, this peppery, pillowy flatbread is a great thing to have on your table at the start of your meal. If you don’t fall into those categories, we recommend holding off and waiting for the regular pizza to arrive.

Jakob Layman

Mother Wolf review image

Gamberi In Salsa Verde

The blue prawns are easily our favorite dish from the appetizer section. The shrimp are cooked to perfection with a firm, yet plump exterior that pops with each bite. The salsa verde on top provides a nice acidic kick.

Jakob Layman

Mother Wolf review image

Fiori Di Zucca

If the blue prawns are the winners from the appetizer section, then the squash blossoms are at least Miss Congeniality. The whole table will love the perfect balance of sweet and salty.

Margherita Pizza

It’s easy to be distracted by the various toppings on Mother Wolf’s other pizza options, but stay the course—the margherita is the one you want. This simple pizza has thin, nicely charred crust, a perfect ratio of ingredients on each slice, and most importantly, is light enough to still leave stomach room for the other great dishes to come.

Jakob Layman

Mother Wolf review image

La Mortazza

OK, we lied. If you’re with a big group, throw in the La Mortazza pizza too, which comes topped with mortadella, ricotta, and pistachios, and arrives folded into a giant sandwich. It’ll be the talk of every table around you—a notable feat at a place where, on any given night, Jay-Z wouldn’t be the most famous person with a reservation.

Jakob Layman

Mother Wolf review image

Tonnarelli Cacio E Pepe

Arguably the dish that put Felix on the map all those years ago, Mother Wolf’s cacio e pepe is every bit as delicious as its predecessor. It’s cheesy, peppery, and filled with thick, perfectly al dente tonnarelli. This is an exceptional bowl of pasta that should make it onto your order every time you come here.

Jakob Layman

Mother Wolf review image

Rigatoni All’Amatriciana

For as exceptional as the cacio e pepe tastes, the all’amatriciana is even better. This classic Roman dish is a perfect balance between the rich and savory 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’ll do it again.

Jakob Layman

Mother Wolf review image

Budino Di Gianduja

If you have any stomach room left for a dessert (never a guarantee), get the budino. It's light, creamy, and tastes great with the negroni night cap you just ordered.

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