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Carbonara

George 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?

  1. jcwla Jun 30, 2006 06:52 AM

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

    1. p
      peifferc Jun 30, 2006 09:53 AM

      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.)

      http://www.laweekly.com/eat+drink/ask...

      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
        George Jun 30, 2006 02:35 PM

        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
          b
          BabyLitigator Jun 30, 2006 04:26 PM

          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
            p
            petradish Jun 30, 2006 05:54 PM

            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?
            :-D

            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. ipsedixit Jun 30, 2006 04:59 PM

          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
            The Chowhound Team Jul 2, 2006 07:45 PM

            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:

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          2. d
            diningdivala Jun 30, 2006 06:22 PM

            Dan Tana's makes a mean carbonara.

            1. w
              Wes Jul 1, 2006 08:39 PM

              My S.O. and I really like the Carbonara at Maria's Kitchen.

              There are 4 or 5 locations of this small L.A. chain. One is on Pico near Westwood blvd and another at the strip mall at Nordoff and Reseda. (I think.) Except for the Pico location I believe the others are all in the SFV.

              Good Cesare Salad too. Free refills on Coke.

              1. c
                cvc Jul 1, 2006 11:06 PM

                Osteria Angelini
                Vito's in Santa Monica
                Enoteca Drago
                Botega in W.L.A. (Il Grano does a pasta with some of the same ingredients that I love but it's not a carbonara officially.)
                Cafe Grand Lux at the Beverly Center (I kid you not.)

                1 Reply
                1. re: cvc
                  j
                  Jerome Jul 2, 2006 11:45 PM

                  I wonder if they use the same recipe as Gianfranco's did when it was at that location, Their bucatini carbonara was classic, a standard.

                2. dragonfly Jul 2, 2006 08:51 PM

                  not on the menu --- Pappone's.

                  1. t
                    triplecreme Jul 7, 2006 09:15 PM

                    I have yet to search for Cacio e Pepe in LA, I presume you could ask any Italian kitchen to make it. The ones I had in Rome were wetter than the ones I have made here. I am tempted to add an egg, (sort of a vegetarian Carbonara, I suppose)to make it wet and sticky. The possibilities are endless!

                    1. Silver Lake Guy Jul 7, 2006 09:30 PM

                      I don't think anyone else mentioned it, so I will: La Buca on Melrose makes a pretty good version.

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