By Matteo Mendoza
Nestled inconspicuously underneath twinkling string lights across from Grand Central Market, Maccheroni Republic is a hidden gem in the heart of Downtown LA. Wholly authentic—yet almost unbelievably affordable—the restaurant transports its patrons to a charming, rustic Italian world away from the gritty hustle and bustle just footsteps away.
Perfect for a great meal (and even a date), Maccheroni Republic will give you real Italian food without breaking your bank.
The restaurant blends the tradition, innovation and comfort that is modern Italian cooking. The outside patio is a sanctuary of warm lighting and close quarters surrounded by bushes that create a private dining space. Inside, the red brick walls and aromas of great pasta make you feel immediately at home. The size of Maccheroni Republic adds to its overall ambience of intimacy: the entire indoor dining space is no bigger than two Loyola Hall classrooms.
The menu specializes in its house-made pastas, but this food is genuine Italian pasta like you’ve never seen. My friends and I ordered three pastas: Tortellini Burro e Salvia, a stuffed pasta with a cheesy sage sauce; Agnolotti di Osso Bucco, a tortellini stuffed with braised meat served with salsa verde; and Bianchi & Neri, a seafood pasta—half white and half dyed with squid ink––with a lobster bisque sauce.
Maccheroni Republic undoubtedly specializes in making pasta, but the menu offers a wide range of appetizers and salads; we ordered Violetta di Melanzane, a baked eggplant dish with tomato sauce. For groups of four, I recommend ordering two appetizers such as the Nduja, a salumi spread with toasted crostini.
One of my favorite parts of Maccheroni Republic was the service; our waiter was a native Italian from Turin with a thick accent and a clear love for the food he was serving us.
Maccheroni truly is a haven for the art of pasta making in an age when most other food institutions often lose the heart and soul of Italian cooking. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but the taste is worth the wait.