MaiTaiTom’s Best Of 2014 Award Winner
Restaurant Type: Italian
Tracy and I visited a number of very good restaurants in 2014 (which is why it’s harder for me to fit in my clothes this February than last), but we agree the one I’m about to review was the best of the bunch.
The Factory Kitchen in Los Angeles is an Italian “trattoria-style” restaurant that’s situated in the Arts District of L.A. About five years ago, this district would be an area that most people would have thought long and hard about visiting, mostly because nothing you’d want to visit was really located here.
Abandoned warehouses and other industrial buildings dotted the landscape. Some might even call it “seedy,” while some visionary residents and entrepreneurs called it “an opportunity.” Replacing and occupying some of those warehouses are restaurants, condos, studios and lofts and still a lot of abandoned warehouses, but the area is constantly evolving. I did have a friend who occupied a loft/office there two decades ago, so the neighborhood has been gradually moving toward gentrification. It just took awhile to really get booming.
A couple of years ago, we visited Church & State (a restaurant I have reviewed on this site…see photo above), and although the area seemed a little dicey, we were incredibly impressed by that terrific French restaurant and we have returned there on a few occasions.
Enter The Factory Kitchen. Located not too far from Church & State, we visited twice in 2014 (once with friends Steven and Adelaide…another with friends Paul & Susan). Both times the meals were nothing less than spectacular.
If this is your first time in the neighborhood, don’t worry as you drive down Factory Place off Alameda Blvd. You might think you’re in a place where you might have a better chance of scoring a drug deal rather than having an amazing dinner, but then on the right side of the street you’ll see the The Factory Kitchen sign with a valet parking lot next door.
Both times we’ve dined at The Factory Kitchen (7 o’clock each time), the 3,000-square foot dining room was already hopping. Unlike restaurants like downtown’s Bottega Louie, where the chance of you hearing your dinner companions is about the same as the Chargers winning the Super Bowl, the buzz in here is electric, but the sound level is tolerable.
Each time we’ve come we arrived here early (rule #1…never trust L.A. traffic), which gave us a chance to scope out the bar (yes, I know…shocking). They have an extensive (albeit rather expensive) cocktail list.
We usually order a martini, but I think the next time we go I might order a Yosemite Sam, which a concoction that includes Templeton Rye, aperol, amaro averna and lemon. Why…because I have no idea what that would taste like. Stay adventuresome my friend!
As for the dining area and, this is from The Factory Kitchen’s website: “The Factory Kitchen’s 3,000-square-foot main dining room stays true to the former factory building’s features, with concrete surfaces, reclaimed wood tables and garage doors. These highlights reflect the industrial detailing seen throughout the neighborhood.”
Now on to the real reason you want to visit The Factory Kitchen…the food, prepared in an open kitchen. The big trend in dining it seems continues to be plates that can be shared, and the Factory Kitchen lends itself to that idea quite nicely. Many dishes stay on the menu, but it, like the neighborhood, is constantly evolving, so some of the things we enjoyed might not be there when you go. Not to worry, however, every dish we’ve tried here has been a winner.
I’ll start with one of our favorite dishes from the “to begin” part of the menu…pancotto. It’s a duck egg, red potato vellutata (I think that means “velvety”), sautéed greens, semolina bread crostini and speck, which helps make this dish “Specktacular.” ($9)
In the “to continue or share” portion of the menu are a couple of items we have really liked. The prosciutto dish called parma prosciutto is aged 18 months, has lightly fried sage dough and stracciatella (which I originally thought was a disease I had in college) for $19.
Another one of my favorites is under the “foccaccina calda di recco al formaggio” section of the menu. My Rosetta Stone-like brain deducted it had something to do with bread and cheese.
Now it was on to the “to begin Italian style” of the menu (they capitalize nothing). The signature dish for Factory Kitchen is its mandilli di seta…hankerchief pasta and ligurian almond basil pesto.
As we loosened our belts, we also tried casonzei…veal, pork, sausage filled pasta, cured pork, butter and sage ($19) and corxetti stampini…hand stamped marjoram (not anything like Disneyland hand stamping) infused egg pasta, wild boar and pork sausage sugo ($22).
The “add-on” section had a real “Wow” dish. The cippoline…warm glazed small onions and agro dulce ($7) was excellent. If we weren’t so stuffed by now, we’d have asked for an additional order of these babies.
As you can see by now, the wine had affected any picture abilities I had left in me, but I persevered to get a few blurry dessert shots. Maybe I’ll skip that Yosemite Sam before dinner on the next trip here, after all.
On our first visit we also indulged (we did a lot of indulging on our visits) also in the paciugo…fio de latte, meringue, hazelnuts, chocolate sauce, amarena cherries and berries ($8) and cannoli…homemade cannoli shells, ricotta filling, orange marmalade and pistachios ($9).
In addition, there are some menu selections “from the sea and land” that are more dinner suggestions for one. On my first outing, I ordered a great short rib dish that was in the mid $20 range.
The only slight negative I can say about The Factory Kitchen is that the wine prices are steep and so is the corkage ($20 each…maximum two bottles not on their its list, which we will do next time). They now do have a Happy Hour from Monday through Thursday from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., which includes less expensive drinks and an interesting, abbreviated Happy Hour menu.
If you don’t buy from their wine list or have a martini, you can easily make the dinner bill under or right about $100 a couple.
Although it’s only been two visits, Tracy and I have enjoyed every facet of this restaurant. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, I’d have to say The Factory Kitchen is your “don’t miss” restaurant (although Church & State is a very close second). You should definitely reserve well in advance for dinner, as it’s easy to get shut out (sort of like the San Diego Padres). Next time we visit, I’ll stay sober long enough to take better dessert photos or pass the camera to Tracy. Enjoy!
(Maitaitom Rating: 4.8 mai tais out of 5)
The Factory Kitchen
1300 Factory Place
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Hours: Lunch from Monday – Friday 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Happy Hour Menu: 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. Monday – Thursday
Dinner: Sunday & Monday 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Tuesday – Thursday 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Parking: Adjacent lot – $5