Evan Funke is more obsessed with pasta than anyone you know. He’s committed to making pasta by hand, in house, even if it means building a specific temperature controlled room in the middle of the restaurant for everyone to see. Felix, which opened officially last Friday, has one of the most compelling new Italian menus, which is a tough calling considering there are far fewer cities in America that are as obsessed with Italian cuisine as Los Angeles.
Opened in the former Joe’s restaurant along Abbot Kinney, the new environs are gorgeous and grown up, a nice job considering Joe’s was already a supremely nice building to work in. Up front there’s a casual wine bar-style area with low tables and fantastic cocktails behind the counter. There are two main dining rooms, one brighter with larger windows and the one at the back more hidden away for cozier, more romantic dinners.
The menu itself is visually appealing too, with a roomy modern layout in Futura-style headings and smaller serifed dish titles. Funke’s iconic foccacia, one of the star appetizers at Bucato, is back on the menu. Some of the excellent antipasti at the friends and family preview last week included fried squash blossoms and ricotta toast topped with spring vegetables, both of which were delicious.
Funke’s picked up pizza along the way, and the mostly Neapolitan-style pies are truly fantastic, perhaps some of the best in town, with a natural pliancy to the dough that’s not overwhelmingly sour. The balance of the pomodoro sauce, fior di latte, and basil was just about perfection, with more robustness than I’d expected. Folks around the preview loved the Calabrese, with broccoli and n’duja for a slightly spicy kick.
But everyone’s going to come here for the pasta, which is segmented into four main types: northern, central, southern (mezzogiorno), and “delle isole”, which presumably means the kind of island pasta you’d find in Sardinia and Sicily. The early stars on the pasta section are the intensely pesto-imbued trofie, which Funke’s team was making during the preview.
There are also some mains like pollo al mattone and even a costata alla fiorentina available on weekend evenings if you want to ball out with some heavy meat dishes. Word on the street is that reservations are booked up until the end of the month, so best try and walk in and dine at the front wine bar area if you need to try Felix during prime meal hours.
Felix is open 5:30 to 11 p.m. on weekdays, and until midnight on weekends. 1023 Abbot Kinney, Venice, CA.