Knead Los Angeles: First-Bite Review
Knead Los Angeles brings fresh pasta and a good show to the Grand Central Market
LA is going through a pasta renaissance lately, and Knead Los Angeles has just joined the movement. The restaurant, located in the Grand Central Market, opened on January 28. Only a few months ago, another pasta joint, Cento Pasta Bar, also opened in Downtown LA, and Los Angeles Magazine reviewed all the pasta shapes available in town. Artisanal pasta makers? We have them, too.
To open Knead Los Angeles, Bruce Kalman and Marie Petulla, co-owners and chefs of Union in Pasadena, took over one of the largest spaces in the market. Besides a 16-seat counter facing the pasta room, there’s room for a small marketplace, selling Knead’s pasta among the other things. Still, it’s a small space for a full restaurant. At lunchtime, as people line up to get their tagliolini, things get pretty hectic in the kitchen.
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The menu is a mix of Italian and Italian-American, with a Californian touch (think kale and ricotta ravioli). Spaghetti with meatballs and baked ziti reflect Kalman’s East Coast background. Bucatini all’amatriciana, panzerotti, and agnolotti, instead, are what born-and-raised Italians like myself are more used to.
It’s all about the pasta here. The magic happens before your eyes in the pasta laboratory, while you decide what to order. Knead Los Angeles uses locally milled flour and a giant Italian extruder to make a variety of pasta shapes. Some types of pasta, instead, are made by hand. Either way, it’s quite a show.
Knead Los Angeles: Come for the bucatini, stay for the bucatini
For this first-bite review, I had the bucatini all’amatriciana and the porcini lasagnette. Besides tomatoes and sizable onion chunks, the amatriciana sauce had guanciale, i.e. fatty and super-tasty pork cheeks, as in the traditional recipe. There were some still some guanciale pieces here and there, but the rest had clearly melted away because the sauce was very flavorful. If you love pork, or love bucatini, you should come and order this dish. If you love both, you have no excuse not to (also, it’s only $10).
The lasagnette were good, but not as impressive. Porcini are some of the best mushrooms you can use in cooking, and this pasta had tons of them. However, the sauce was a bit watery. As a result, I guess the nice mushroom flavor wasn’t as concentrated as it could have been.
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I wanted to leave some room for dessert, so I forced myself to stop eating the bucatini. I ordered a little $3 cannolo as a dessert. I appreciated the fact that it was filled on the spot, so that the shell remained crispy. However, the ricotta and chocolate filling was nothing to write home about.
Knead Los Angeles also offers a promising porchetta sandwich. Given that Knead’s parent restaurant, Union, has earned quite a reputation for their porchetta, this could be my next pick.
Overall, Knead Los Angeles gives you another reason to visit the Grand Central Market. The atmosphere is low-key and the prices very affordable (with some exceptions), but the pasta is the same quality that you would expect from an upscale restaurant. And if you were planning on making your own pasta, this place will definitely give you inspiration.
First-Bite Reviews are first looks at newly-opened restaurants. The author dined anonymously and Foodiamo paid for all expenses.