My first meal dining out in 2016 was terrific! New Years Day is sometimes a difficult evening to dine out, because many restaurants are closed after serving a celebratory New Years Eve multi-course dinner beyond midnight. Servers, General Managers and chefs are tired and unenthusiastic to work on the first day of a new year.
On my OpenTable app, I noticed The Factory Kitchen in downtown LA was open and available at 8:15 p.m. My husband had recently had a business lunch there and raved about it. He called the restaurant to see if they had any availability earlier.
The woman answering the phone told him the next opening was at 8:15 p.m., however, if he arrived soon, there were three high tops open at the bar. “It’s first come, first serve, and one can order every dish from the dinner menu,” she told him.
Looking at me, he gave a thumbs up and told her we were on our way. Before hanging up, she said to call back when we were 10 minutes away and she would see what she could do to secure us a space.
Exiting the 5 freeway, I called from the car and was told there were still high top spots available.
As we turned down Factory Place to the valet parking lot, we hurriedly exited our car and walked into the rectangular building that was once a fish factory. As we approached the reception stand, we noticed three guests walking up to the only empty high top table. We missed our dining opportunity by a few seconds.
The two hostesses kindly told us to wait nearby and they would see if there were any “no shows.” Even though the restaurant was packed with guests, there were two empty tables waiting for upcoming reservations.
Leaning against a huge pillar, I looked around the 3,000 square foot open space. The surfaces were concrete and the tables reclaimed wood. It’s creative and exciting inside with large windows looking out to Factory Place, that are actually garage doors that can be opened on warm days to provide an inside/outside ambiance.
Next I peered over to the exposed production kitchen and noticed a familiar face. Years ago, the handsome Italian chef Mirko Paderno, wow’d me when he was the Executive Chef at Oliverio at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. He made a cauliflower soufflé with the consistency of flan. The creamy cauliflower mixed with eggs, Italian triple cream and rich mascarpone cheese rested on top of a warm Parmesan, cream and shallot sauce. I instantly became a fan. I’m sure he didn’t remember me, yet we locked eyes a few times, and I was willing to wait all night to have him cook for me again.
Standing near Paderno was Executive chef/ owner Angelo Auriana. I learned after 18 years as executive chef at Selvaggio’s Valentino Ristorante, he partnered with his fine dining friends Matteo and Francine Ferdinandi to create the Factory Kitchen Hospitality Group.
Auriana and Paderno worked together at Valentino’s and is eas brought in for the opening of BRERA as Chef de Cuisine.
Now I really wanted to start 2016 off with a good meal prepared by these two wonderful chefs. Within minutes, one of the hostesses approached us and had us follow her to a table along the back wall. It was an ideal spot for me to admire chef Paderno, as he was feeding sheets of pasta into a pasta machine. I watched as he hand stamped perfect marjoram infused pasta circles for the corxetti stampati dish.
Here is what I ordered:
Wine: Chef Auriana is an avid wine collector and offers a dynamic wine list with sixteen Italian white and red wines available by the glass. If you must bring your own favorite bottle of wine, you may bring in labels that are not on the wine list. There is a $20 corkage fee for the first two bottles and $35.00 for each bottle thereafter.
Wine/Appetizer: Order the straw-colored Novacella Kerner Alto Adige 2014 to pair with perperu appetizer sounded appealing with soft cheese stuffed into sweet and spicy peppers. When a plate of eight peppers arrived with a sprinkling of arugula leaves, large Grana Padano shavings and a glistening of arugula oil, I wanted more. Biting into the bright red peppers stuffed with snowy white cheese was surprisingly a pleasing balance of flavors. These bite-size morsels would have been a great appetizer to impress my guests at my New Year’s Eve soiree. I made a note to make these at my next dinner party.
Wine/Appetizer: A dry glass of Sangiovese from the Lombardia region with a plate of tonnetto – sliced wild albacore tuna crusted with black pepper, that was seared quickly and served with puntarelle “little tips” greens, red endive, thinly sliced onions and capers. Puntarelle is one of the favorite greens in Rome and offered an earthiness to this seafood favorite.
Entree: A signature favorite – Mandilli di Seta, a green handkerchief pasta folded over and decorated with an almond basil pesto.
Wine/Pasta: The rustic Corxetti Stampati with braised ox-tail sugo tomato sauce and shredded Reggiano cheese pairs nicely with a glass of Barbera from Piedmont, Italy. Our waiter August told us this wine is always a crowd pleaser.
Seafood: The healthy Merluzzo, a pan roasted North sea cod filet, with San Marzano plum tomatoes, fat cipollini onions, sweet and fruity tasting Taggia olives, and a splash of Ligurian olive oil. San Marzano tomatoes offer a thicker skin than Roma tomatoes and are stronger, sweeter and less acidic. Many chefs believe these are the best tomatoes to use in Italian sauces.
Fowl: Seared duck breast and leg confit.
Beef: Braised braised beef short ribs and pan roasted veal chop.
Desserts: Homemade cannoli shells are filled with ricotta, orange marmalade, and dusted with pistachios. They also serve a plate of chocolate filled cream puffs, with a cherry and pomegranate sauce, a pinch of praline dusting and dollop of Chantilly cream. The baked granny smith apples crostata with a scoop of spiced white chocolate gelato and drizzle of caramel sauce is heavenly
The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner is served on Monday through Thursday form 5:30 to 10 p.m. and stays open until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Sundays it opens earlier at 4:30 to 9:30 p.m.
1300 Factory Place #101(213)996-6000 – http://www.thefactorykitchen.com