Factory Fresh…

 

factory kitchen signFactory Kitchen…a thriving, new northern Italian trattoria in the trendy arts district east of downtown Los Angeles, is my latest conquest. It is a former manufacturing complex that has been converted into luxury lofts.

Bestia led the way, opening 2 years ago in this nocturnally neglected area…not anymore. Along with Bestia and Church and State, Factory Kitchen has also emerged as a happenin’ place for nighttime dining.

Factory Kitchen, similar to the other establishments in this area, are all located on one way streets that demand valet parking. The restaurants have all been remodeled to be factory chic and Factory Kitchen fits the bill to a T with layers of peeling paint, concrete floors, reclaimed wood tables and garage doors.

If you are waiting for a table, it is a bit hazardous as the bar area is all about communal eating and there is no real space for milling about with a cocktail or glass of wine in hand.

Factory Kitchen is Angelo Auriana’s first solo effort after an 18-year stint as chef at Valentino in Santa Monica as well as 2 years at the Ligurian restaurant, Farina, in San Francisco.

factory kitchen interior

I must say it was unusual to be greeted by an all male host staff. Both men were quite hospitable. One of the gentleman is co-owner, Matteo Ferdinandi, who most recently ran the house at LA’s Drago Centro.

We waited about 20 minutes for a table and had a lovely chat with a chap who is a concierge at the Beverly Wilshire. Brandon, David and I, in all modesty, were the only well-dressed people in the restaurant.

We rarely go out to groovy restaurants on a Saturday night and this is why. If we were in NYC, I would say it was a “bridge and tunnel” crowd…translation New Jersey folk. I spied many fake Louboutin’s, Jimmy Choo’s and some horrendous handbags. MK by Michael Kors was the top of the line.

On a Saturday night, there were multiple men dressed in white Hanes t-shirts and jeans jailin’…come on. Put a little effort into your wardrobe selection. If a guy showed up at my door for a Saturday night date in a short sleeve undershirt, I would claim cramps and shut the door, but that’s me.

Back to the meal. While we waited, we selected a delicious, well-rounded Barbera from Piedmonte 2011 ($10). The by the glass wine list was all Italian except for a Pinot Noir from Oregon. Eight different cocktails are offered…all reasonably priced between $10-12.

Pancotta
Pancotta

We were seated and had a very nice server. He was incredibly busy so he was efficient, but perfunctory…no lasting relationship forged.

We started the meal with pancotto ($9) which was comprised of sautéed greens over a semolina bread crostone, red potato vellutata (creamy) and a sunny side up duck egg perched on top. The dish was adorned with speck. I found it lacking in taste except for the lovely speck. The crostone was soggy and tasteless.

We continued with a focaccina ($18). The formal name is focaccia di recco, an obscure Ligurian specialty of stuffed flatbread and it may just become the new “it” item, like kale or quinoa.

Legend has it that the original recipe was created in 1189 and it is crispy, airy and fantastic. It is a very thin crust with crecenza cheese baked in to the bread, scattered with foraged mushrooms.

Focaccina Di Recco
Focaccina Di Recco

The crescenza, a delicate, very soft cheese with a creamy texture and no rind, has an interesting back story. The name ‘Crescenza’ is derived from the Italian word ‘stracca’ which means ‘tired’ in English. It is called so as the cheese is made from the tired cows whose milk is used to make the cheese. It is said that the cows get tired by going up and coming down the alpine pastures and as a result, the cheese becomes richer in fats and more acidic in nature….I entertain, inform and educate…all in one little blog.

Galinella Di Mare
Galinella Di Mare

Moving forward to the main course and this is where things faltered. My husband eats fish, but no fowl or meat. We ordered the galinella di mare ($28)…translation….pan seared robin fish with olives, basil and san marzano tomato. It was very fishy and smothered in tomatoes, actually suffocating in a red stupor. I just couldn’t eat it, but David  tolerated the dish.

I definitely think that a carnivore would have a more pleasurable main course experience, perhaps indulging in pork belly, flat iron steak, ossso buco or pan roasted chicken breast.

Cipolline
Cipolline

The waiter suggested cipolline ($5) as an add on. The onions came glazed in a casserole. Strike 2. They were tasteless and the texture was off-putting.

Mandilli Di Seta
Mandilli Di Seta

I left the best for last even though it was served before the fish course. The mandilli di seta ($19) was heaven. The pasta arrived and at first it looked like a nondescript plate of wide pasta sheets topped by a pale green pesto sauce, but looks sure can be deceiving as anyone who has ever dated knows. One bite and you are hooked. The translation is handkerchief pasta wth Ligurian almond basil pesto.

If Factory Kitchen was not located in downtown Los Angeles, I would frequent the place just for the focaccina, the pasta and Barbera but, alas, with LA freeway traffic, it is an inconvenience from Santa Monica.

Factory Kitchen, 1300 Factory Place Los Angeles. Lunch Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner Sun.-Mon., 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Tues.-Thurs., 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Credit cards accepted. Full bar. Valet parking $5

thefactorykitchen.com.

 

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