Still Our Favorite Pasta in L.A.
Maccheroni Republic – Los Angeles, CA
Visited twice in May of 2018
It’s comforting to know that some things don’t change in life, like my favorite pasta restaurant in Los Angeles continuing to provide the freshest pasta four and a half years after our first visit. Maccheroni Republic has been churning out delectable pasta dishes since early 2014 (photo on right below from 2014), and it is as good (or even better) today as it was back when we first started going here.
Located virtually across the street from the historic Grand Central Market on Broadway between 3rd and 4th Street, Maccheroni Republic was the brainchild of two veteran Los Angeles Italian restaurateurs, Antonio Tommasi, and Jean-Louis de Mori. They created a simple and tasty menu (and cheap by L.A. standards) for their trattoria-style restaurant.
Maccheroni Republic makes fresh artisan pasta daily from organic flour and semolina. Unlike other L.A. Italian restaurants (and there are plenty of excellent ones), you will not find any of the big meat dishes as entrees here. It’s pasta, pasta, and more pasta. And that’s a good thing because they do it great.
In late May, Tracy and I dined here twice in one week: once for lunch on a hot Sunday afternoon, and then a few days later for dinner with our friend Denny, visiting from Vancouver, BC. Both meals, as expected, were terrific.
On Sunday, Tracy and I decided to walk around downtown Los Angeles in our futile attempt to get in shape for our autumn trip to Northern Italy. We first climbed the stairs at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. After I was administered oxygen, we scoped out the lovely flora.
… and rode that bad boy 298 feet down.
Our plan was to walk through the Grand Central Market and then head back up the stairs adjacent to Angels Flight and call it a day.
However, when we reached Broadway, we spied our old favorite Maccheroni Republic, and since it was lunchtime, and we had worked up quite an appetite, we sauntered the short distance to Maccheroni Republic’s side entrance (photo on the right taken a few nights later).
Before entering we caught a glimpse of a small car and a shop behind the restaurant.
Not being able to fit in the car, we slipped inside Pastificio Fresh Artisanal Pasta/Bottega dei Maccheroni, a shop that will soon sell some of Maccheroni Republic’s fresh pasta.
According to the restaurant, they hopefully plan to open it by the end of July.
After checking out the colorful pasta (which only made us hungrier) …
… we took a seat on Maccheroni Republic’s outdoor patio. It was a hot day (thankfully the tables are covered by a large awning), so I thought I’d try the Venetian-style Spritzer Della Casa: prosecco with special house-blended bitters and fresh orange ($12). It was perfect for a hot and tired old guy. Tracy had a small carafe of white wine.
I started with the Carpaccio Di Bresaola appetizer; fresh homemade cured beef carpaccio topped with a salad of arugula, hearts of palm and cherry tomatoes ($13.95). I followed that up with Trifogli Del Fattore, short pasta in a roasted ham, bacon, braised red onions and spicy tomato sauce ($14.95). Both were more than satisfying.
Tracy had the “Wow” dish, the Boccoletti al Pesto e Ricotta; long curly pasta with basil pine nut pesto topped with ricotta ($14.95). Stupendous!
Somehow, we were able to navigate the 172 stairs to the top of Angels Flight and survived to eat Italian food a few days later.
Our friend Denny saw my 2014 review of Maccheroni Republic, and when I suggested it, he decided that’s where he wanted to meet us for dinner. Since there are no reservations, we all arrived a little after 5 p.m. (Tracy works nearby, so she walked. Damn she’s in much better shape than me). Once again we snagged a table on the patio. Get here as early as you can to make sure you find a spot.It had been another hot day, but the shaded patio at Maccheroni Republic made for the perfect place to start with the bottle of red wine I brought ($10 corkage, second bottle $15, one bottle maximum per two guests) from the Langhe region of Piemonte (where we will be in early October).
Our dinner this night was equally as fantastic as our lunch was a few days previously.
We shared a couple of tantalizing appetizers. First up was a fantastic Burratina Con Pomodorini; fresh buttermilk mozzarella, rustic cherry tomato puree and olive oil ($12.95). As the late Dick Enberg would have said, “Oh my!”
If a menu has beets on it, odds are Tracy will order it. So when she saw Carpaccio Di Bietole E Taleggio; red & golden beets carpaccio, soft burrata and almonds ($12.95), it was a done deal. Once again, I surprised myself at how much I enjoy beets.
On to the main courses, and they were all delicious, as well. Denny ordered my favorite Maccheroni Republic dish, and it did not disappoint. Their Ravioli Di Zucca E Patata Dolce: pumpkin and sweet potato ravioli with butter, cream, and truffle cheese sauce ($16.95). It’s totally off the charts and melts in your mouth.
Tracy opted for the incredible Bianchi and Neri; black and white pasta thin vermicelli, shrimp, mushroom & roasted pancetta in a creamy bisque ($16.95).
I decided to eat some burro (no, not that kind). My Tortelloni Burro e Salvia; spinach and ricotta tortelloni with a Parmesan sage sauce ($16.95) could not be beat (Wow!). It was Denny’s favorite dish of the three (yes, we shared bites).
Hard to believe, but we had enough stamina left to share two desserts, both equally as luscious as the other one. Luisa’s Olive Cake; orange and blueberry cold-pressed olive cake served with blueberry sauce, and whipped cream ($9.45) was a treat for the senses …
…while the Flourless Chocolate Cake; cocoa-based cake intensely chocolaty served with vanilla and chocolate sauce ($9.25) garnered rave reviews from the now almost full table of diners. Just for fun, we ordered some homemade vanilla gelato, too ($4.25).
Besides the above, in our visits to Maccheroni Republic over the years, virtually every dish has been top notch. This includes appetizers like Fritto di Calamari with “pummarola” dipping sauce and Crostini Di Prosciutto; parma prosciutto and mascarpone, along with main courses such as Agnolotti Di Osso Buco; tortelloni filled with Osso Bucco meat and marrow in a salsa verde. All delicious. The menu changes, so you might have some different choices than we had.
There are not enough superlatives to give this restaurant. As I stated earlier, there is an abundance of wonderful and inventive Italian restaurants in Los Angeles and surrounding areas. However, none of them have fresher and better tasting pasta than Maccheroni Republic. Besides the patio, they do have seating indoors, as well.
When someone asks me where I recommend going to dinner in Los Angeles, I invariably put Maccheroni Republic at the top of my list when combining food quality and value. Add to that a relaxing, informal atmosphere with an attentive and friendly wait staff. It would be hard to find a better place to dine.
Remember, there are no reservations. However, you can go on their website to see what the wait is in real time (a Yelp app), and even put your name on the waitlist if you’re headed that way. For an affordable and delectable night out in L.A., it’s tough to beat Maccheroni Republic, where you can enjoy and explore the pastabilities.
Mai Tai Tom Rating … 4.75 maitais (out of 5)
332 South Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90013 • Phone 213.346.9725
Hours: Monday/Tuesday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. & 5 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday/Thursday 11 am – 2 p.m. & 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday/Saturday 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. • Sunday 11 a.m – 9 p.m.
Parking: Paid (lots nearby) • No Reservations
Metro Stop: Pershing Square (3-minute walk)