Ask anyone what the coolest neighborhood in LA is, and chances are you’ll hear the words “Arts District.” And they wouldn’t be wrong. The neighborhood is filled with craft breweries, people wearing scarves in coffee shops in July, and a warehouse that is probably now a Soho House. And also really good food. But most of that food is housed in big-deal destination restaurants with month-long waits and a bunch of bells and whistles you never asked for. LA’s coolest neighborhood has very little in the way of real neighborhood restaurants. Save for Factory Kitchen.
Located in (you guessed it) a converted factory space in the heart of the AD, Factory Kitchen has actually been around since 2013, which in Arts District time makes it about 100 years old (they’re applying for historical status soon). But this isn’t some sprawling architectural wonder boasting original skylights and a risotto you won’t remember in the morning. This is a lively neighborhood spot with a small, manageable space, a casual atmosphere, and Italian food you’ll obsess over.
We’ll say this once - it’s time to consider Factory Kitchen among the best Italian restaurants in the city. For as big as the menu is, you won’t find a single weak spot. You’re going to start with the peperu (which is basically their version of a caprese but way better), order a flat-bread focaccia for the table, and then go to town on as many pastas as you can handle. The pesto handkerchief is a mandatory order and the kind of pasta you’ll think about during boring work meetings weeks later. But let’s also not forget about the best dish here - the prosciutto. Stacked high on top of puffed fried dough with a New Jersey-sized helping of burrata slapped in the middle, this thing gets delivered to the table close to half a foot tall and it is jaw-dropping and glorious and you won’t ever want it to end.
Now, don’t get us wrong. When we say Factory Kitchen is a neighborhood spot, we don’t mean it’s a fast casual three-times-a-week type place. Factory Kitchen is a very nice restaurant. Stroll in at lunch and you’ll be greeted with the downtown suit crowd and come dinnertime, it’s a sexy date night sock hop. But with food this good, the fact Factory Kitchen makes eating there so easy on you and everybody else is simply icing on the cake.
Other restaurants in the Arts District: Give us more icing.
Sweet mother of God. This isn’t just our favorite prosciutto in LA, this is one of our favorite dishes period. Fried dough, cured meat, and massive helping of burrata. Anyone who doesn’t feel some sense of arousal watching this beauty hit the table needs to see a love doctor.
On a menu full of heavyweights, these aren’t going to pop out at you. But order them, because they are the ideal first appetizer. Also, anyone you doesn’t want cheese-stuffed sweet peppers at your table should just leave now.
Let’s all agree that handkerchief pasta is the most fun pasta. Not only is it the perfect neck accessory for driving up the coast in a convertible, it’s also great to eat because when layered like Factory Kitchen’s, it almost feels like a casserole (and that’s a compliment). The almond basil pesto certainly helps as well.
This is basically tortellini with black truffle butter. Also, more prosciutto. You should probably order this.
This is probably our favorite entree here. The pork belly is cooked perfectly, tastes delicious, and isn’t nearly as fatty as you think. Plus, the carrots, fennel, and celery at the bottom give the whole thing some very needed crunch.
It’s going to be difficult to get through everything you want to eat at Factory Kitchen and still be hungry for dessert, but make it work. Because you want these cannolis. We repeat: YOU WANT THESE CANNOLIS.