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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
Editor’s note: Until my son moved to Los Angeles to go to medical school and then decided to stay there for his residency, I’d never thought of L.A. as a culinary destination. But since then, every time we visit him, he takes us to a new and fascinating place: a hole in the wall that serves fabulous ramen, or a seemingly ramshackle place on the beach the cooks up spicy wonderful Caribbean food, or the place that is reported to have the best burger in L.A., located down a hallway behind a butcher shop in Santa Monica. Who knew that an intern has so much time to eat? But it is turning out that L.A. has one of the most vibrant and diverse food scenes I’ve ever visited. With this in mind I asked our wine columnist Allison Levine, who lives in L.A., for a list of her favorites. —Sasha Paulsen
For years, when one thought of food, restaurants and must-eat-at destinations, Los Angeles was not a city that came to mind. But the city of 14 million has been gaining recognition for its food scene over the last five or so years.
Los Angeles Times Food Critic Jonathan Gold called Los Angeles the “food city of the moment” and restaurant critics from New York and San Francisco have agreed. In fact, Zagat named Los Angeles number one in their list of “30 Most Exciting Food Cities in America 2017.”
I spend much of my time traveling around the country and the world. It is always exciting to explore the food scene in a given city and enjoy wonderful meals. But every time I come home to Los Angeles, I am really blown away by the quality and diversity of the food scene, where chef-driven restaurants, exotic cuisine and innovative cooking are all celebrated. There is also the sheer quantity of restaurants.
New restaurants are opening on a weekly basis. Local celebrity chefs have opened additional locations, new young chefs have realized their visions and a handful of well-known out-of-town high-profile chefs have descended upon Los Angeles for their newest outposts. At times, it seems almost impossible to keep up, but I do my best. Here are some of my favorite restaurants where I had some of my more memorable meals of 2017.
Ever since I ate the Mandilli de Seta (handkerchief pasta, Ligurian almond basil pesto, fiore sardo) at Factory Kitchen, it has been one of my favorite Italian restaurants. So, when I heard they were offering a Happy Hour menu, I decided to go check it out. While the Mandilli de Seta is not on the Happy Hour menu, there are many delicious options. Some are smaller versions of items on the dinner menu and other items are exclusively for Happy Hour. But, the best part is that everything (food, wine and cocktails) is between $6-$11. We started with the Frittino di Verdura (fried baby leeks with chickpea fritters). Well-salted and crispy, this is an addictive dish. Frittino di Verdura I washed down the salty fried snacks with a glass of crisp, fruity Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Grasparossa from Emilia-Romagna, Italy. 
Of all the meals that I eat out, sometimes there is that one that stands out above the rest. There is such a feeling of satisfaction and excitement when one like this is found. And, I found that very feeling at The Factory Kitchen, which opened up in downtown LA at the end of 2013. A trattoria-style Italian restaurant, it is named after the building that it is based in - the Factory Place Arts Complex - in the Arts District. The Factory Kitchen is the project of two lifelong friends - Chef Angelo Auriana and General Manager Matteo Ferdinandi. Chef Auriana was the executive chef at Valentino for 18 years before moving to Farina in San Francisco. And, Matteo Ferdinandi has worked with Celestino Drago and Spago. Together, they have created a restaurant that is the epitome of Italian hospitality.