A few months after their opening, the crowds have subsided at Eataly – though there always seems to be a line at La Pizza & La Pasta. With the Superbowl last Sunday keeping people at home or in bars, it seemed like a good time to attempt to eat there.
The strategy paid off. Even though there was a small line, they kept it moving, seating everyone immediately. “I hate to quote wait times,” the hostess confided. “Sometimes it’s an hour. Other times it’s five minutes. It’s so hard to tell.”
If you’re looking for a romantic atmosphere, you won’t find it here. Tables are somewhat close together, and service is a bit brusque. You’ll get a lecture about how the pizzas and pastas have separate kitchens so the food won’t come out at the same time. While you peruse the menu, you will be given some complimentary bread and olive oil. The menu has several appetizers, including a mozzarella bar, a few salads, but is mostly concentrated on pizzas and pastas. Some, not all, of the pastas are made fresh in-house – logistically, it seemed like those should be the ones to try.
The ravioli di zucca has a flavorful butternut squash filling that definitely zinged. The ravioli came in butter with a couple of pieces of sage. If you have a nut allergy, steer clear of this dish as it uses ground amaretti cookies.
I was on the fence about ordering the lasagna al ragu, but I’m glad I did. The hefty potion of lasagna contained layers of bolognese ragu, bechamel, parmesan, grana podano and pecorino romano. From what I could tell, there were eight sheets of wonderfully supple pasta layers. I devoured the entire block and did not feel the least bit guilty. At $20, it was on the pricey side, but having had a not-great experience at another restaurant where the lasagna cost $16 and was no bigger than a deck of cards, this huge slab made me quite happy.
They will tell you that the dried pastas are cooked al dente – but it seems like a lot of the Yelp reviewers will either complain that the pasta is too hard or that it’s been overcooked. The thin crust pizzas are a hit-and-miss sort of dish. We didn’t order one, but I saw that the person sitting at the next table did and had a burnt crust. Personally, I’d stick to the fresh pastas.
If you want coffee or dessert, you’ll have to look elsewhere as our waitress somewhat tersely informed us that neither was available at the restaurant. So if you didn’t get the lasagna and still have room, there’s Il Gelato downstairs, which always has a line, and the Cannoli e Bomboloni, which doesn’t.
The food is good, but at those prices, one would expect a better dining experience, where you could linger afterwards enjoying an espresso, dessert or both. Having to wait an indeterminable amount of time to be seated is also a big drawback considering their price point. Los Angeles is filled with many Italian restaurants where one can get a reservation, be seated, eat well and not feel pressured to give up their table. It will be interesting to see if Eataly will be able to maintain their hype and keep drawing in the crowds or if they will have to change to a reservation-based system, as with some of their other locations. Time will tell.
Location – Westfield Century City, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles 90067
Website – https://www.eataly.com/us_en/stores/los-angeles/la-pizza-pasta/
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Vegetarian Friendly – Yes
Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes