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Clams with spaghetti at Pasta Sisters, Culver City
Clams with spaghetti at Pasta Sisters, Culver City
Joshua Lurie

10 Fantastic Clam Pastas to Try in Los Angeles

From linguine to tonnarelli, cockles to Manila clams, these plates stand out in LA

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Clam pasta has been a mainstay of the Mediterranean for generations, particularly in coastal areas of Italy like Liguria and Genoa, where linguine plays a lead role. Considering how enjoyable it is to eat plates of pasta co-starring plump, briny clams, this tradition went global. Angelenos certainly benefited from a combo that mixes and matches a wide variety of pastas, clam varietals, and sauces.

From linguine to tonnarelli, cockles to Manila clams, learn about 10 of LA’s best plates of clam pasta, just in time for summer. Not in the mood for clams, but still craving pasta? Here’s a handy map of 21 essential pasta restaurants in Los Angeles.

Linguine with Carlsbad Clams at The Arbour

Clam Pasta Los Angeles The Arbour Joshua Lurie

Longtime Drago Centro chef Ian Gresik and wife Nancy now run a seasonal, farm-to-table restaurant called The Arbour in Pasadena. The space is true to the building’s name, with landscaping along South Lake Avenue, and plant-life throughout. The Arbour makes lively pasta on the premises, fueling plates like linguine and Carlsbad clams ($18). More than a dozen plump Manila clams raised using eco-friendly aquaculture join beautifully chewy pasta in a bright sauce crafted with garlic, butter, white wine, a tiny bit of cream, red chile foam, and herbs. 527 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena, 626.396.4925, www.thearbourpasadena.com

Linguine vongole at Carbon Beach Club

Clam Pasta Los Angeles Carbon Beach Club Joshua Lurie

Considering that Carbon Beach Club has views of crashing waves and rocky beaches from their umbrella-shaded deck, food could easily be an afterthought. Thankfully, the owners brought on executive chef Cody Dickey, who previously worked for Bobby Flay at Gato in New York City, and he reinvigorated the menu. Linguine vongole ($26) features chewy pasta ribbons tossed with sweet Spanish cockles, white wine, California olive oil, and herbs like parsley from Malibu’s biodynamic One Gun Ranch. 22878 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, 310.460.7509, www.malibubeachinn.com/dining

Linguine alle vongole at Cento Pasta Bar

Clam Pasta Los Angeles Cento Pasta Bar Joshua Lurie

For lunch from Wednesday through Saturday, chef Avner Levi’s Cento Pasta Bar takes over downtown’s Mignon wine bar. The Bestia and Sotto veteran clearly has a handle on pasta. His rotating menu occasionally includes Linguine alle Vongole ($15). He tosses dried pasta with a flavorful paste made using Fresno chilies, garlic and shallots. He finishes in a pan with plump Manila clams, white wine, and clam broth. Clams are cooked in their shells, but come plucked for easy eating. 128 E. 6th St., Downtown, 213.489.0131, www.centopastabar.com

Vongole, vongole, vongole at Il Pesce Cucina at Eataly

Clam Pasta Los Angeles vongole eataly Joshua Lurie

Eataly, the Italian juggernaut born in Alba, spotlights several prominent L.A. chefs at their Westfield Century City outpost. Chef Michael Cimarusti and business partner Donato Poto have more than proven their grasp on seafood with Providence, Connie & Ted’s, and Cape Seafood & Provisions. Il Pesce Cucina at Eataly focuses on Italian seafood preparations. Vongole, vongole, vongole ($26) incorporates clams three ways into their plate of Afeltra dry fettuccine from Naples. A savory ragù of geoduck and Pacific razor clams joins shell-on Manila clams in a sauce starring white wine, garlic, and chiles. [Note: Mario Batali, who is under investigation by NYPD for sexual assault, has a stake in Eataly.] 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City, 213.310.8000, www.eataly.com/us_en/stores/los-angeles/il-pesce-cucina

Vongole udon at Marugame Monzo

Clam Pasta Los Angeles Marugame Udon Joshua Lurie

Marugame Monzo preaches transparency in Little Tokyo, making thick, bouncy udon behind glass in their exhibition kitchen, and dropping quite a bit of noodle knowledge on their website. Vongole udon ($13.95) is a Japanese riff on the classic Italian pasta dish featuring udon and large Manila clams in an umami rich broth crafted with “iriko” (baby sardines), kombu, bonito, and shiitake mushrooms. The result comes spiked with sake, white wine, and chiles before a garnish of nori and scallions. The udon, made exquisitely with flour, salt, and water, has nothing to hide. Note: vongole udon is dinner-only. 329 E. 1st St., Little Tokyo, 213.346.9762, www.monzola.com

Linguine with clams and fresno chiles at Osteria Mozza

Clam Pasta Los Angeles Joshua Lurie

At the multi-concept Melrose compound, chef Nancy Silverton and her talented team have mastered many Italian culinary arts. At Osteria Mozza, executive chef Elizabeth Hong presides over a serious pasta program, to name just one facet. Linguine ($26) features flat pasta with good bite tossed with Manila clams, savory pancetta strips, spicy Fresno chiles, shaved garlic, and scallions. Fresno chiles are not especially spicy, but tag team with garlic to deliver alingering heat. 6602 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, 323.297.0100, www.osteriamozza.com

Spaghetti with clams at Pasta Sisters

Clam Pasta Los Angeles Pasta Sisters Joshua Lurie

Pasta Sisters built on their humble beginnings in an Arlington Heights strip mall by opening a family-run flagship restaurant in the Helms Bakery complex, inheriting Bucato’s pasta lab and making the space and experience even more approachable. They make pasta every morning on-site using Italian flour and organic eggs, resulting in vibrant pasta. Customers can mix-and-match most pastas with a preferred sauce, but they set aside clams ($14.75) for spaghetti. The kitchen tosses Manila clams with olive oil and garlic and finishes the dish with chopped parsley. 3280 Helms Ave., Culver City, 424.603.4503, www.pastasisters.com/culver-city

Linguine alla vongole e bottarga at Terroni

Clam Pasta Los Angeles Terroni DTLA brought in Chef Stephen Murray, who’s making serious linguine and clams. Joshua Lurie

Chef Stephen Murray previously worked at Local Kitchen and Wine Bar in Santa Monica and joined Terroni last fall. The Toronto import’s second LA location is more ambitious, filling 6,000 square feet in a century old Fashion District bank. Linguine alle Vongole e Bottarga ($22) features house-extruded pasta. Murray starts by cooking garlic in Frantoiano extra virgin olive oil before adding white wine, house-made fish stock, and sweet Washington state clams. Al dente pasta joins the fray, and they finish with olive oil, parsley, and ultra-savory Sardinian bottarga (cured mullet roe). For people who like the linguine, neighboring market Dopolavoro sells the same pasta. 802 S. Spring St., Downtown, 213.221.7234, www.terroni.com/terroni-los-angeles/terroni-downtown-la

Tonnarelli alle vongole at Uovo

Clam Pasta Los Angeles
Uovo uses a family recipe and imported tonnarelli for their clam pasta.
Joshua Lurie

Roman born restaurateur Lele Massimini partnered with fellow SUGARFISH co-founder Jerry Greenberg, along with Lowell Sharon and brother Carlo, on Uovo. This modern Santa Monica pasta bar serves traditional Italian food. The sleek, Kazunori-like space features an open kitchen where cooks prepare pasta that’s made, sheeted, and cut in Bologna. The menu divides pasta into three categories: Roma, Bologna, and Classiche. Tonnarelli alle vongole ($15) falls into the last category, made with a Massimini family recipe. Small cockles come together with vivid pasta in a white wine and olive oil sauce, with chopped garlic and parsley, and red chili flakes to garnish. 1320 2nd St., Santa Monica, 310.425.0064, www.uovo.la

The spaghetti clam show at Viale Dei Romani

Clam Pasta Los Angeles
Casey Lane is having a big year and Viale Dei Romani’s pasta dishes are playing a big part.
Joshua Lurie

Casey Lane is having one hell of a year. The longtime Tasting Kitchen chef also opened Breva in DTLA, and now displays considerable pasta skills at Viale Dei Romani. For dinner at this contemporary Italian restaurant in West Hollywood’s La Peer Hotel, he features two types of clams in the spaghetti clam show ($26). He takes Ipswich clams from Stonington, Maine, and sautés them with aromatics and wine. Rustichella, a dried durum wheat pasta from Abruzzo, comes cooked with clam juice, shell-on cockles, chopped Ipswich clams, olive oil, lemon juice, and aromatics. Dried oregano and subtly spicy piment d’espelette provide finishing touches. 639 N. La Peer Dr., West Hollywood, 310.691.1600, www.vialedeiromani.com

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