Because every Angeleno loves to eat, even if he has to valet, we bring you Table Stakes: a series that answers man’s eternally recurring question (“Uh, what’s new?”), and recurs once every lunar cycle or so. Bon appétit.
Knead Pasta Co.
The braised duck that fills the agnolotti at Knead Pasta Co. would be too rich were it not for light dusting of shredded parm that evens it out. Chef Bruce Kalman, whose Union is worth a drive to Pasadena, has nailed his love of pasta, curating a menu of fresh Italian dishes small enough for lunch and delicious enough for the most ardent foodie.
317 S. Broadway (map, Grand Central Market, left side behind Egg Slut)
To pass off Neal Fraser’s Fritzi as an expanded version of his Farmer’s Market hot dog stand would be foolish. It’s not just the booze that makes the Arts District location better (or the rotisserie birds, or the succulent wings, or the bacon burger made with 40 percent bacon and encased in fontina) — it’s the sous vide carrot dog, cooked for hours in hot dog spices and covered in shaved, braised brussel sprouts. The vegan dish is a highly creative delight, worth ordering as a starter or your meal proper.
814 Traction Ave (map)
Officine BRERA, the new spot from the Factory Kitchen gents, is the most stunning restaurant to open this year. Housed in an old power plant that hasn’t been used in nearly 30 years, BRERA keep many of the space’s bones intact: the pitched skylight, the opaque window panes, the exposed brick, a metal pocket door. But they added warm lighting and stately, comfortable chairs to make it a little more hospitable, and there are also two big private event rooms you can rent out. Like the Factory Kitchen, BRERA’s fare is well executed Northern Italian. Think subtle seasonings, fresh ingredients and lots of fire-roasting and braising.
1331 E. 6th St (map)
Downtown is trending, for sure. But so is Italian food. Adding to the carb-loaded list is Spartina, where Chef Stephen Kalt (Caufields) is folding burrata into ravioli and wood-firing pizzas. But the chickpea farinata, a pancake-style dish made from chickpea flour that originated in Genoa, caught our attention foremost. Top it with an order of the grilled avocado, which arrives delicately flavored with lemon oil. The restaurant is wine and beer for now; a full cocktail program awaits down the pipeline.
7505 Melrose Ave. (map)
Contributed by Nicole Cogan of No Bread, a website for those who feel better off bread.
There’s a need for places like Kali, a casual neighborhood spot where you can get beet tartare (yes, beet, with a “T” — that’s not a misprint) and a glass of vino curated by the former Providence sommelier. The dishes are approachable, creative and filling. The farro has been fermented and rendered into a risotto. The squab is roasted and served with carrots and lavender. It’s a convivial spot that’s good for a date or just a quick dinner at the bar.
5722 Melrose Ave. (map)