Emblazoned on the shirts of KNEAD & Co employees' t-shirts is the question, "What's your spirit noodle?" There are many answers to this inquiry. Perhaps funky fusilli or beautiful bucatini or even simple spaghetti—but the answer could be anything this Grand Central Market newcomer will dish up.

As with any good Italian restaurant, the beauty of KNEAD's dishes begins with fresh, handmade pasta cooked to al dente perfection. The pasta comes in many different shapes, sizes, and ingredients from plain semolina spaghetti to squid ink tagliolini. KNEAD's menu offers everything from Italian pasta staples like baked ziti to contemporary takes on time tested classics such as the smoked duck agnolotti, a square-shaped ravioli.

Photo by Emiko Myers.
Photo by Emiko Myers.

One of their most popular dishes is the classic Sunday Gravy Spaghetti and Meatballs. KNEAD's spaghetti is thick and coated with an incredibly rich and flavorful Sunday gravy that could come from any Nonna's kitchen. The hearty serving of twirled pasta is served with two enormous meatballs with an entirely unexpected thick smoky flavor.

Not only is KNEAD's Italian classic delicious, it is also a large portion for the twelve-dollar price tag. Between the generous serving of pasta and the baseball sized meatballs, it is easily split into two hearty portions of Italian perfection.

The Porcini Lasagnette is an artfully designed balance of the robust, opulent flavors of earthy mushrooms and bright lemon, rosemary, and sage. Wave-like edges on the porcini infused lasagnette capture the scrumptious sauce with ease and embrace the wild mushrooms tossed in. Luckily, KNEAD doesn't skimp on this heavenly sauce and provide a slice of crusty French style baguette for sopping.

Photo by Emiko Myers
Photo by Emiko Myers

The arugula salad is topped with enough pecorino, locally sourced from the Bellewether Farms in San Andreas, to make any cheese aficionado drool. The fresh peppery bite of arugula with the tart lemon and olive oil dressing and crisp pear slices lend an essential lightness to an otherwise heavy meal.

While the dessert department is not lacking, the cannoli is underwhelming when compared to the pastas and salad. It accomplishes the task of being a cannoli without much flair and could be skipped at the end of the meal in favor of a scoop of McConnell's gourmet ice cream if you want something classic; if you're feeling a little more adventurous, try Sticky Rice 2's Ka Nom Tom, a sweet coconut custard ball.

Unfortunately, the human body was not designed to accommodate tasting every item on the menu; however, KNEAD certainly makes you entertain the idea of ordering several dishes, such as the already famed Porchetta dip panini or panzerotti (think of an Italian Hot Pocket so delicious that it will make you never want to eat a Hot Pocket again). One suggestion: Go with friends, order as many dishes as possible, and remember that sharing is caring.

KNEAD & Co is open from 8 AM to 6 PM Sunday through Wednesday from 8 AM to 9 PM on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.kneadpasta.com.

Reach Staff Reporter Emiko Myers here.