Golden Oldies

The Factory Kitchen is a delightful Italian throwback

Don't be fooled by the nouveau Arts District crowd filling the dining room: The Factory Kitchen is Old World in the best way possible.

Hidden inside a 90-year-old warehouse, this stylish concrete-walled trattoria east of Downtown is the product of two culinary veterans: manager Matteo Ferdinandi, a former partner at Celestino Drago, and chef Angelo Auriana, who led the kitchen at Valentino for 16 years.

Their newest inspiration? Childhood.

"Matteo and I have come full circle," says Auriana, "We wanted to serve the food we grew up eating. For any chef, that's the place you eventually return."

The Factory Kitchen

For Auriana, that means simple and comforting Northern Italian dishes: immense cheese-filled flatbreads called focaccina calda di Recco ($16), hearty Umbrian lentil and carrot soup ($9) and crackle-skinned rounds of porchetta ($24), rubbed generously with fennel and garlic.

After twirling curls of fusilli in umami-rich amatriciana sauce ($18), and cutting through ethereal sheets of mandilli di seta–handkerchief pasta blanketed in velvety Ligurian almond pesto ($19)–our table felt transported back to the Italian childhood we never had.

If you want to experience maternal love in a single bite, order the cannoli ($8), which arrive anointed with a dot of orange marmalade and a scattering of pistachios. According to Auriana, he begged the recipe off a friend's mother during a trip through Italy.

That's a way better souvenir than anything we've ever received.