Pasta Sisters, a tiny storefront in a Pico-Arlington strip mall, has food so good you won’t mind eating it from a take-out container in your car. And if that sounds like it’s not worth your trouble (you are no longer a teenager scarfing down a burger before your shift at the movie theater), know that Pasta Sisters is one of those LA eating experiences you shouldn’t miss out on. Even if they are so slammed you do end up eating it in your car.
Taking up a space that makes your 400-square-foot studio feel roomy, this isn’t the place to come for a leisurely dinner. For starters, there are all of three small tables pushed up against the walls, plus five or six counter seats, and zero bottles of chianti in sight. You are likely to encounter both a line, and a lot of people hovering while waiting for a place to sit - they get so busy that you might be forced to get your order to-go simply because there’s no room. That said, we wouldn’t recommend trying to game the system with a pick-up and take home situation, if only because the pasta won’t really survive the journey.
Pasta Sisters is more of a pop in for lunch kind of place, where you’ll be given a death stare from a waiting customer across the room if they’ve decided you’re eating your pesto tagliatelle too slowly. But then you realize you have one of the top ten pastas in Los Angeles in front of you, and start putting fork to mouth even more slowly.
Ordering here is a build-your-own bowl situation, but with less choice (and more imported-from-Italy ingredients) than your local poke joint. Choose your type of noodle - pappardelle, tagliatelle, spaghetti, penne, or gnocchi - and a sauce to go with it. There are some entrees, salads, and paninis as well, but most everyone is here for the pasta. It’s perfectly made, super simple, and, for a short time, will make you feel like you’re on that Italian vacation your colleague has tortured you with on social media all summer. Or at least nowhere near a strip mall in Pico-Arlington.
Wide noodles plus thick, meaty sauce. You must order this at least once.
You’re probably not bringing a vampire to a garlic-filled Italian restaurant anytime soon, but if you were considering it, they shouldn’t order the pesto. You should though - it’s the best sauce here.
If you’re ok with not moving for the rest of the day, get this one.
The lasagna takes a little longer to come out, but the wait is worth it. Somehow, it’s not particularly heavy, and its healing properties include achieving world peace.
The bottarga (cured fish roe) lends a saltiness rather than fishiness to an otherwise simple garlic and olive oil pasta. This is a good thing.
We’d probably ask you to visit your mental health professional if you came to a place called Pasta Sisters and ordered a sandwich. But actually, the panini here are pretty great - simple, with only three or four ingredients on a crusty roll, and just like that one your colleague had in Florence that they won’t quit telling you about.
It’s tempting to go all in on the pasta and skip dessert, but we would advise against it. Because this pie is one of our favorite things here. It’s not too sweet, and we’d like our own Nonna to come and make this for us every day.