Amatriciana for Amatrice in Los Angeles: Let’s Keep Eating!
As the Amatriciana for Amatrice Los Angeles campaign goes on, we met some of the participating chefs around town. And yes, we had a lot of pasta.
We knew that the people of Los Angeles love pasta (that’s what they told us). So, as soon as we heard about the earthquake hitting central Italy two weeks ago, we thought of one easy way to help.
We asked some of the best Italian restaurants in town to donate a portion of the sales of amatriciana pasta to support the earthquake relief efforts. Why amatriciana? The town of Amatrice, which was hit the most, is commonly considered to be the birthplace of this pasta sauce (though some disagree).
Our friends at L’Italo Americano helped us spread the word about the Amatriciana for Amatrice campaign. Meanwhile, the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West also urged its members them to donate.
Like hundreds of restaurants in Italy and across the world, Los Angeles restaurants and chefs indeed answered the call and joined the campaign.
In fact, many did it on their own, well before we were able to contact them. Isn’t that great? Here’s a list of the restaurants participating in the Amatriciana for Amatrice drive.
Amatriciana for Amatrice in Los Angeles: All the amatriciana we could eat
Angelo Peloni of La Bruschetta Restaurant, in Westwood, was one of the first to accept our invitation. The Genoa-native Angelo is proud of his pesto, but he was happy to share his amatriciana recipe with us.
As we drove through the city tasting one amatriciana after the other, we found out that each chef put his or her personal touch on the recipe. This one, for example, is a rather unconventional amatriciana by Chef Antonio Muré of Barrique in Venice Beach (make sure to turn closed captions).
The traditional amatriciana recipe, which is jealously guarded by the Amatrice city government, calls for guanciale, i.e. pork’s fatty cheek. Muré, however, is from Parma, Italy’s prosciutto capital, so he prefers using that. Amatriciana purists may disapprove of his prosciutto-based version, but hey it’s pretty delicious!
How important is guanciale to a great amatriciana? Jonathan Gold, probably LA’s most important food critic, thinks that you manage to get your hands on some pungent and perfectly cured guanciale, you’re more than halfway there.
After guanciale, onions are probably the most-discussed ingredient when it comes to amatriciana. Back in Italy, in fact, we love to discuss such things. Seriously, last year the mayor of Amatrice went on record saying “If you use ingredients like garlic or onion in an amatriciana, you are ignoring a pastoral tradition that is almost 1,000 years old.”
No matter what the mayor says, the new chef of Locanda del Lago, on the Santa Monica Promenade, indeed uses plenty of red onions in his recipe. Check out the video to see the results.
Moving eastwards, we came across Pasta Sisters in Koreatown, an all-Italian deli run by Francesco Sinatra and the women in his family. Their amatriciana sauce is pretty traditional, but toss it with freshly made spaghetti and get ready for pasta heaven.
And it’s not just Los Angeles! Restaurants across the country have launched similar campaigns. Up in San Francisco, top Italian restaurants joined forces for the SFAmatrice fundraiser.
If you are in Portland, OR, make sure to visit Mucca Osteria. Chef Simone Savaiano’s amatriciana sauce is pretty traditional: guanciale, pecorino romano, and San Marzano tomatoes. He does add some onions (don’t let the mayor of Amatrice know!). Also, instead of classic bucatini or spaghetti, Simone tosses gnocchi with it.
We wish we could visit each and every participating restaurant! Unfortunately, even as Italians, there is only so much pasta we can have.
Here are some of the delicious amatriciana pastas that LA restaurants have been preparing to help the people of Amatrice. Even some pizzerias and private chefs have participated in the campaign. Thanks to all of you!
If you haven’t had an amatriciana for Amatrice in Los Angeles just yet, call one of these restaurants to make sure that the promotion is still on. If you already have, try another restaurant. There’s no better time to splurge on pasta.