Three Can’t Miss Dishes at The Factory Kitchen in the Arts District

Comfort food in troubling times.

Photo by Douglas de Wet

The Factory Kitchen is not supper buzzy or new, it’s just really a great restaurant, and their food and service is extremely comforting; can’t we all use a little more comfort right now? An established favorite for Italian in the Arts District, The Factory Kitchen is a can’t miss place with dozens of delicious dishes to choose from on the menu every day. You could order blindfolded, randomly dropping your finger on the menu and end up with a fabulous meal. Anchored by amazing, inspired fresh pastas, the Factory Kitchen has been satisfying hungry diners with their yummy Italian fare in the Arts District since 2013.

The kitchen is run by a veteran of the Los Angeles dining scene, Executive Chef Angelo Auriana, perhaps best know for having served as Executive Chef at Valentino for 18 years.. The dining room is overseen by CEO Matteo Ferdinandi, a veteran of Spago and more recently, Drago Centro.

Since opening, the Factory Kitchen has consistently appeared on Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants list for the Los Angeles Times. This year it checks in at #41 and on the 2015 list, it was #32.

The menu changes frequently based on seasonal ingredients, but there are several signature dishes that typically appear on the menu throughout the year, Mandilli di Seta, Prosciutto, and Peperu. While on any given night there are many wonderful dishes to choose from, these three dishes alone are worth going out of your way for.

Peperu cheese stuffed sweet and spicy peppers. Photo by Douglas de Wet

The Peperu ($9) is tasty and fun plate of pepper poppers to share as starter with a meal or as a snack with drinks at the bar. The dish consists of a plate of a circular arrangement of sweet and spicy cherry peppers with a simple arugula salad in the center, which is topped with some shaved Grana Padana cheese and dressed with arugula infused olive oil. The peppers have an intense sweetness and a touch of peppery heat, which is cut by the rich, creamy cheese that has been stuffed into each of the peppers.

Factory Kitchen’s Prosciutto, 24 month age Prosciutto di Parma on a pillow of light, crispy, fried sage dough, arugula and straccialla cheese. Photo by Douglas de Wet

The item is listed on the menu simply as Prosciutto ($21) is a lovely plate thinly shaved ribbons of melt-in-your-mouth 24-month-aged Prociutto di Parma. The beautiful rosey pink pork is salty and sweet. When eaten in the same bite as the light, crispy, airy pillow of fried sage dough, the subtle sweetness of the pork, clean fried dough, and the stracciatella cheese can be somewhat reminiscent of the most delectable savory pork doughnut you never imagined you had a craving for, but you will now. Made from buffalo milk, stracciatella cheese is a rich, creamy tangle of shredded curds. This fresh Italian cheese with a mild flavor forms the center of burrata cheese, and adds a wonderful, satisfying and luxurious mouthfeel to the dish. In the past, we had always shared the dish as a party of four, and it always seemed to disapear too quickly, but sharing it as a party of two, it was more substantial than I had remembered.

Mandilli di Seta, handkerchief pasta with creamy almond basil pesto. Photo by Douglas de Wet

Mandilli di Seta ($20) hankerchief pastsa with silken almond basil pesto is the dish that gets written up just about every review written about the place. The dish consists of tender sheets of perfectly cooked fresh pasta and a pale green, creamy basil pesto sauce. On one occasion dining here with friends, one of our companions was so taken by the dish, he ordered a second serving at the end of the meal in place of dessert. It is that good.

A party of two could dine on these three dishes for a $25 per person, before drinks, tax, and tip, a very reasonable tab for an overall experience of this quality. The same meal ordered at lunchtime would be even a few dollars less.

Service is extremely polished, personable, and efficient. Matteo Ferdinandi is an absolute maestro in running the dining room. I once watched him conduct a server with barely perceptable gestures and facial expressions from the corner of the room. It was very impressive. The staff may be dressed casually in dark blue jeans and long sleeve plaid shirts, but the service is conducted as if they were in tuxedos as plates and utensils are swiftly but calmly removed and replaced between courses, water glasses are filled, and the pace of the meal seems to flow effortlessly.

One downside is the shape of the space, which feels slightly compressed downward by the ceiling, which can introduce a slightly tense feel when entering. Once seated, however, the service, food, wood grain tabletops, rustic ceramic plates, and industrial chic decor quickly relax the feel of the room.

Reservations are available directly with the restaurant or through OpenTable. Dinner reservations on Friday and Saturday nights will probably require some advance planning. Sunday and during the week, they often show same day availability.

Buon appetito!