Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Factory Kitchen: A Strong Italian Contender in Downtown LA

I've had many good meals, but every once in a while, one stands out above the rest. This was my experience at The Factory Kitchen, which opened up in downtown LA recently. I didn't know much about it before, so I was quite surprised, but I really should've heard more. The chef, Angelo Auriana, was the executive chef at Valentino for 18 years before moving to Farina in San Francisco. The manager, Matteo Ferdinandi, was a business partner of Celestino Drago. Both of them are the epitome of Italian hospitality.

Because of the name, I was expecting a small restaurant, but the large dining room is simple but elegant.

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 The bar is headed by Karl Steuck, who was previously at Writer's Room and Hatfield's.
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I tasted another writer's Urban Cowboy (bacanora, cochhi americano, grapefruit, lime, sage honey - $10)
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Bacanora is a rare find in the US, and I love how he used it in this cocktail.
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I ordered the Soon To Be Divorced (tequila, campari, lime, agave, thyme - $10). I've never had tequila and campari together, but this was very drinkable with the lovely thyme aroma. Other than these seasonal drinks, Karl has a short list of classics as well.

For the wines, Francine Diamond Ferdinandi, who's worked at Gramercy Tavern and Spago, has created a small but impressive wine list. We left it to her to choose our wines and so should you.

Be sure to get the Prosciutto, which came in an unexpected form. 24 months Parma prosciutto is served atop a lightly fried sage dough, with some stracciatella in the middle ($18)
Prosciutto

Barberosse Gratinate: oven baked sliced beet casserole with melted Asiago ($10)
Beet casserole
It may sound strange at first, but the beet slices actually make a great vehicle for the melted cheese.
Pancotto (farmer's duck egg, red potato vellutata, sauteed greens, semolina bread crostone - $9)
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Rather than pizza, The Factory Kitchen serves Focaccina calda di recco al formaggio, a thin focaccio crust. We liked both the traditional (with Ligurian olive oil) and Cotto (crescenza, cotto ham, rosemary - $17)
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The focaccina is stuffed with crescenza cheese which was creamy but light. 

Now, the pasta. Handmade pasta is one of my favorite things in the world and there's one pasta dish here that blows the rest away. It is the Mandilli de Seta (handkerchief pasta, Ligurian almond basil pesto, fiore sardo - $19)
Almond Pesto
This... This was outstanding. It's the dish that makes the entire table fall silent. So simple yet from the silky handmade pasta to the beautifully subdued pesto that covers it. This is a dish that you dream about days after eating it. It was heavenly paired with the white wine that Francine had chosen.

Pappardelle (taggia olives speckled pasta, duckling ragu, Italian parsley - $19)
Pasta
This is also a wonderful pappardelle, although it was difficult for me to go to other pasta after the previous one. I usually like pappardelle with meat ragu so I'm going to have to eat this again another time before the mandilli di seta.

Porchetta (rolled pork belly, red onion, carrots, fennel celery - $24)
Porchetta
This porchetta is one of the best I've tried in recent memory. The richness and fattiness doesn't overwhelm, it's tender and flavorful.

Anatra (duck breast, huckleberry, romanesco, broccoli di cicco - $26)
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The duck breast was excellent, but it's the leg confit that everyone fights over!

If you want something lighter, the dentice (pan seared tai snapper) is perfectly prepared.
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I had to try one more drink. The Backyard Boogie (Templeton rye, root, fennel, absinthe mist, orange oil - $10) is perfect for those who prefer stronger, more aromatic cocktails.
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For dessert, you can't miss the cannoli. We saw them make the cannoli shells earlier that night.
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Perhaps it was the orange marmalade on one end, or the pistachio on the other, but this ricotta-filled cannoli was simply the best I've had.
Cannoli


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Chef Angelo Auriana
I hadn't heard much about The Factory Kitchen prior to coming in, so I came in with no expectation and was wowed. I wasn't eating out when Chef Auriana was helming Valentino, so I never knew what it was like, but I'm glad he decided to return to Los Angeles with The Factory Kitchen.

The Factory Kitchen
1300 Factory Place #101
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 996-6000
http://thefactorykitchen.com/
The Factory Kitchen on Urbanspoon

1 comments:

Jamie Gall

I'm glad you wrote about this... this was being built about the time I left LA, but had heard about it and wanted to try it..

and after your review, I'll definitely have to make a stop there when I'm back in LA.

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