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Two lobes of sea urchin on top of cream and pasta in a bowl at a new restaurant.
Uni pasta from Cento.
Wonho Frank Lee

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A Pasta Impresario Cooks Beautiful Noodles in West Adams

Longtime pop-up chef Avner Levi of Cento goes legit in a historic section of the city

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Here comes pasta bar Cento to West Adams, just in time for the cozy holiday season and a week of wet weather ahead. The new standalone pasta destination from longtime pop-up chef Avner Levi opens on Wednesday, December 15 at 4921 West Adams Boulevard, with promises of outdoor date night dining and an indoor seating arrangement that offers views into one very open kitchen.

Fans of Cento will know Levi for his long-running tenure turning out pastas from behind the bar at Downtown’s Mignon Wine Bar in the Historic Core. Prior to venturing out on his own, Levi cooked pasta for Bestia, one of the city’s busiest restaurants. Now he’s got a place to call his own, and along one of the city’s newly busy restaurant rows.

A long communal bar set for service at an evening Italian restaurant.
Light blue and lots of wood.

Inside, expect a more robust menu that moves beyond simple pastas like Levi’s classic beet spaghetti with brown butter and ricotta. There’s a robust chicken liver crostino with aged balsamic to start alongside a scallop crudo and grilled veal sweetbreads; braised lamb neck and beef osso buco for meatier mains; and a whole world of noodles — from sea urchin spaghetti to broccoli bucatini — to lean on for those that want some comforting carbs. Beer and wine, including lots of old world grape varietals curated by beverage director Santos Uy, are also available. The opening menu is below.

Inside Cento Levi is keeping the same in-the-round appeal as his early pop-up days, though the kitchen is much improved since then. Gone are the two induction burners and three pots, replaced by a glimmering stainless steel system for boiling, plating, saucing, and serving. Most of the seats across the restaurant offer some kind of sightline into Levi’s work station, though the shaded outdoor patio (30 seats are al fresco, 25 inside) with the mature olive tree may be the preferred place to sit under better weather conditions.

Nearby recent additions include everything from Alta Adams and Mian to Highly Likely and Johnny’s, though the area has had its fair share of notable restaurants over the years. The historic West Adams and adjacent Jefferson Park neighborhoods have for decades been home to proudly Black-owned dining institutions like Mel’s Fish Shack, Harold & Belle’s, and Phillips Bar-B-Que, but in the last decade both have seen sweeping changes and redevelopment, fueling gentrification in the region.

Cento opens formally on Wednesday, December 15, with hours from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday (closed Monday-Tuesday).

Chopped chicken liver spread across a slice of crusty bread at a restaurant.
Chicken liver crostino.
Chopped scallops and seeds shown close up in a bowl at a restaurant.
Scallop crudo.
A long, sliced section of sweetbreads shown inside a stone bowl for a restaurant.
Veal sweetbreads.
A tight swirl of bucatini pasta with green sauce in a shiny white bowl at a new restaurant.
Broccoli bucatini.
Jet black pasta shapes in a bowl with fresh herby leaves, shown on a marble table at a new restaurant.
Squid ink malfandine.
Chunks of corn swirled in with a cheesy sauce on pasta at a new Italian restaurant.
Sweet corn carbonara.
A deep red spaghetti dyed by beets with cream on top and green onions, shown inside a shiny bowl.
Cento’s signature beet spaghetti.
Two lobes of sea urchin on top of a swirl of pasta at a new Italian restaurant.
Sea urchin spaghetti.
A close up vertical photo of a thickly crusted and darkened salmon in a bowl, over rice.
Cedar-smoked salmon.
A close up shot of spiralized pasta with deep red chunks of tomato and bacon at a new restaurant.
Avi’s amatriciana.
A chunk of beef falls off the bone in a yellow sauce on a plate for a new Italian restaurant.
Beef osso buco.
A whole fish fried atop a grill with skin on, shown at a new restaurant under a bright light.
Whole grilled orata.
A full overhead shot of dishes, including pastas and fried fish, at a new Italian restaurant.
A tight corner of a new restaurant with marble bartops and light blue paint.
Wraparound dining.
A view across bar-height seating into a small restaurant’s kitchen space.
A very open kitchen.
A single corner setting for a bartop seat at a new restaurant, at night.
Wine bottles stacked on a wooden shelf at a new Italian restaurant.
An outside stand for bottles of wine and plates at a new restaurant, shown at night.
A long table for communal dining, shown at night under string lights at a new Italian restaurant.
An exterior patio for a restaurant shown at night with long string lights and an olive tree.

Cento Pasta Bar

4921 West Adams Boulevard, , CA 90016 (213) 625-2363 Visit Website
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