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Jun 30, 2006 05:46 AM


Your grandmother made it for you when you were a kid. It is your Proust and the madeleines. You go to Rome and order it there: It is better. You come back home and make it yourself: Not bad, but not the same. You blame the eggs (they seem to have orange yokes in Italy? Are you buying the wrong eggs?). You don't have the real guanciale. You never use bacon. It takes you months to perfect your technique, and you are only using garlic, oil, pancetta, eggs, pepper, salt, and pecorino. The smallest slip, and the alchemy slips away. You have carbonara cooking contests with your best friends. You go back home to New York and get a bowl at the bar at Lupa, and the big guys behind the bar start to guffaw when you say you can make it better at home. "Guy likes his own cooking," they start shouting out down the length of the room. You weren't saying you make it better than Batali, but just whoever he had on pasta duty in that franchise that day. You wish you could find a place that makes the best carbonara--no penne allowed, spaghetti or bucatini only--in all of Los Angeles. You would go to that place, right away.

You want to know: Not who makes a good carbonara. Who makes the BEST carbonara. Opinions?

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  1. Probably Angelini Osteria.
    Il Forno makes a nice one, relatively less expensive.

    1. The original comment has been removed
      1. Someone asked that of the LA Weekly's food column two weeks ago. That must have been you, because they mention the same NY restaurant? (If Chabelita != George then you've officially found your soul mate.)

        His answer was "Enoteca Drago" in BH.

        Note: You and he both talk about pecorino but _Silver Spoon_ recommends half Parmesan half Romano.

        I have found that the Horizon organic brown eggs (avail at Ralphs and everywhere) have noticeably oranger yolks. Don't know if that's neccessarily better but they're tasty and I can vouch for the resulting carbonara.

        3 Replies
        1. re: peifferc

          Thanks, I missed that. No, I am not "Chabelita"! I guess we mention the same restaurant because Lupa in NY--one of Mario Batali's many, and the one that is meant to be "like" a Roman trattoria--was meant to be a great place for carbonara. I'm originally from NY. It isn't necessarily bad there. The day I had it last, however, they did scramble the eggs by overheating, which is a big no no for me. And while I love Asian food, Lupa's version goes a bit too far back from Roman to Chinese roots for me, added scallions etc.

          My soul mate. Hmmm. I thought I found her 15 years ago. And she is Italian. But my wife won't eat my carbonara. It drives me CRAZY! Another victim of anti-carb paranoia. Although last night I made "bigoli in salsa" with spelt pasta and got her to eat almost a whole bowl. I may need to rethink....!

          1. re: peifferc

            Enoteca Drago does make a fine bowl of carbonara. Probably my go-to entree there, if not in a truffle mood. Certainly the best I've had in L.A.

            1. re: BabyLitigator

              My hubby enjoys Enoteca's version too, but a slight smokiness in the whatever-cured-pork-product (J. Gold says it's pancetta) they use puzzles him slightly. Do you detect this flavor too or is he nuts?

              He had Osteria Latini's carbonara last night and found it creamy where it should've been eggy. Spaghetti was also a tad too soft.

          2. At least when Stephen Samson was still manning the stove at VALENTINO, for me this was the place for carbonara.

            Now withe a new kid on the block at Valentino, I have not yet had the chance to try the place.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ipsedixit

              Some non-LA oriented posts about Carbonara at Sfoglio on Nantucket have been moved to the New England board. Follow the link to continue this discussion there:


            2. Dan Tana's makes a mean carbonara.