Knead & Co.
She’s known by many names — nonna, abuela, lola, oma and so on. She’s your grandmother. A woman you watched work the kitchen like a magician, loving you through her food. It’s your first front row ticket to the performance of cooking. Well, at Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market, you get to relive the sights and smells of what it takes to make good food happen as you watch the pasta-making process unfold behind the glass counter.
“When you eat it, it makes you all warm and fuzzy,” that’s Knead Chef and Owner Bruce Kalman’s goal after you eat at his stand inside Grand Central Market’s food labyrinth. His focus when whipping up Italian classics is simplicity through quality ingredients. “Great food starts with incredible ingredients, responsibly and humanely raised ingredients”, Bruce says. He’s been loyal to this fresh formula for the sake of taste and not trend. Kalman believes getting back to the root of how things are done in places like Italy, where everyone knows their producers, really affects what customers taste.
Kalman got his start in the kitchen at the age of 13 while working at a pizzeria in Jersey, he then scored stints in NYC, Chicago, and Arizona before landing in Pasadena at Union, a restaurant he co-owns with Marie Petulla. Their small restaurant was struggling with space limitations when it came to making the pasta in house. So when GCM came knocking, both of them jumped at the opportunity to open up Knead.
The flour used at Knead comes from a stone mill in Pasadena and you’ll understand what all that means when you taste dishes like the polenta porridge. “A fresh milled product is unbelievably tasty. There’s so much flavor in it,” says Petulla.
For the early bird crowd go straight for the $10 Breakfast Sandwich (before 11am). It’s stuffed with house smoked ham, layered with fontina, tomato jam, and of course eggs — it’s so good it might inspire you to go into work just so you can throw your salary dollars at this sandwich. For the lunch/dinner crowds, reach for the flavor-packed Porchetta sandwich, which by the way comes with a small pool of pork jus, just in time for your sandwich to take a summer dip. But the mother of all these options is by far the “Sunday Gravy” spaghetti and meatballs – holy cannoli this is what comfort tastes like! But if you’re into cooking at home, you can always just buy some fresh pasta at the counter with some ready-made sauce to go.
Petulla says they’re happy to be part of Downtown’s growing food family, “It’s cultivated in a such a way that we’re not competing with each other, we’re just bringing more people in.”
Written by Linda Hosmer
Photographed by Caleb Thal