Location: 1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291. (424) 387-8622
Date: August 8 & September 10, 2017 and October 1 & 22, 2019
Rating: Some of the best pasta I’ve had in LA
Felix is Latin for happy — and indeed, pasta makes me happy. Chef Evan Funke takes the whole pasta thing VERY seriously. Funke’s singular passion as a pasta maker and chef was solidified in Bologna, under the mentorship of Alessandra Spisni at La Vecchia Scuola Bolognese.
The space was formally occupied by LA classic, Joe’s.
There is still the cute bar area, which is mobbed. Felix is one of the hardest reservations to get in town right now.
The dining room doesn’t look too different. They built a giant temperature controlled pasta room though — maybe it was the wine cellar before, hard to remember.
I believe in doing it right, and this is “the plan” hatched by Emil and myself for our night’s eating. We broke things down into about 6 courses and are ordering 9 out of the 11 pastas!
The slightly different change on the second visit.
The 10/1/19 menu.
And the 10/22/19 menu. Surprisingly, they change up the specific pizza and pastas all the time.
Regular bread on request.
Emil brought: 2013 Domaine / Maison Vincent Girardin Corton-Charlemagne. BH 91-93. Reduction flattens the underlying fruit but there is fine freshness, intensity and detail to the muscular and concentrated big-bodied flavors that possess excellent depth on the stony, lingering and austere finish that is dry but not hard to aggressive. This will definitely require a few years of bottle age to become more civilized as it’s quite firm today.
SFINCIONE. Focaccia siciliana, sea salt & rosemary. A poofy bread. People rave about this, it was a nice bread, but I was more into the dishes that followed.
Burrata Pugliese. Adriatic figs, basil & balsamico, sette anni. A really nice little burrata, basil, and fig salad.
Burrata Pugliese (9/10/17). Heirloom tomatoes, basil & balsamico sette anni. The second time we came the burrata was tomato based.
Cicoria, honey dates, bagna cauda, capers, pine nuts & pecorino. Awesome salad. The dressing was very sharp and contrasted nicely with the salty cheese and the sweet dates.
TREVISO (10/22/19). salsa di acciughe, lemon, pangrattato & pecorino romano. Another nice salad. Less bitey than the one above.
Cavolfiori Fritti (9/10/17). Bagna cauda, capers, lemon, & bread crumbs. A very nice fried cauliflower, not unlike the classic Lebanese sort.
Fiori di Zucca. Squash blossoms & fior di latte. I would assume that in this case the fior di latte is ricotta or similar. Very nice fried squash blossoms.
Crudo di Gamberi. ridgeback prawns and umbrian black truffles. Nice. Salty. Truffle wasn’t that strong.
Polipo alle Brace. Grilled octopus, salmorligio & insalta di ceci. Very nicely cooked and tender octopus.
Cozze alla Marinara (9/10/17). Hope ranch mussels, garlic, peperocino, pomodoro & scarpetta. Great guazetto based sauce. Perfect with bread.
Polpette della maestra alessandra (9/10/17). Pork meatballs, salsa verde, & parmigiano reggiano. Slightly salty pork meatballs with a very nice pesto-like sauce.
Pougs brought: 1996 Domaine Robert Groffier Bonnes Mares. VM 93+. Ruby-red. Intensely spicy aromas of blueberry, blackberry and licorice. Almost painfully sweet and powerful in the mouth, with a muscular backbone and compelling finishing flavors of sappy berries. A penetrating floral quality emerged with aeration. Really amazing fruit here, and quite explosive on the aftertaste. The ’97 Bonnes-Mares has even more structure and guts, claims Serge.
agavin: hard as nails even after being open awhile, needs 10 more years!
Viadante. Mortadella, ricotta & Sicilian pistachio. Really nice and quite different pizza — with Bologna
Pizza Funghi (9/10/17). Porcini, parmigiano, asiago, & mozzarella di bufala.
DIAVOLA Pomodoro, smoked for di latte & salame napoletano. Basically a spicy pepperoni pizza — delicious though! Crust is great here too.
Fichi e Prosciutto pizza (10/1/19). Late summer figs, prosciutto di parma, mozzarella di bufalo & robiola. A love prosciutto on pizza.
Quattro Pizza (10/22/19). Taleggio, mozzarella di bufalo, robiola & parmigiano reggiano. Nice and cheesy!
Erick brought: 1996 Domaine A.-F. Gros Richebourg. VM 96. Similar red-ruby color. Fabulous, noble aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, flowers, minerals and sappy oak. Juicy black fruit flavors of extraordinary intensity and sweetness. Uncanny inner-mouth perfume. The explosive finish builds and builds. One of the high points of the vintage.
agavin: drinking great
Gnocchetti Sardi. Guanciale, artichoke, & botarga. That salty/fish umami texture blended with the unctuous pork fat. Great chewy pasta.
Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia. Sugo alla puttanesca. Squid ink pasta. Again texture was great. This was basically a guazzetto sauce (garlic, tomatoes, olive oil, seafood). It was good, but I liked some of the others better. It could maybe have used some more seafood, maybe even uni — but then it wouldn’t be traditional.
Spaghettone alla Norma. Eggplant, pomodorini, basil & ricotta salata. I would have thought this would be boring but it was actually very well balanced. Not fancy, really just a great spaghetti with pomodoro sauce (and eggplant).
Yarom brought: 1999 Tua Rita Redigaffi Toscana IGT. RP 99. The 250-case cuvee of 100% Merlot, the 1999 Redigaffi has an astonishing 36 grams per liter of dry extract, which exceeds most top Pomerols in a great vintage! Unfined and unfiltered, it is as close to perfection as a wine can get. The color is a deep saturated blue/purple. The powerful, pure nose offers smoke, licorice, black cherry, and blackberries. It boasts awesome concentration, a fabulously dense, viscous mid-section, and a finish that lasts for nearly a minute. This is riveting juice. Anticipated maturity: now-2015.
Trofie. Pesto Genovese & pecorino stagionato. This is an incredibly classic Ligurian dish. Check out the original, the only thing missing was the sliced potato and green beans. The Felix version was dead on and the trofie texture, perfect for the pesto, was fabulous.
Pisarei. Ragu di cutello & parmigiano reggiano. Amazing green larva-like chewy pasta, rice northern sausage, and a very complementary cheese. A super fabulous pasta.
Pappardelle. Ragu bolognese “vecchia scuola” & parmigiano reggiano 60 months. Classic, classic bolognese. Again perfect pasta and some really fabulous meaty ragu.
On our second visit (9/10/17) we got some additional pastas. One we missed the first time, the others were just changes on the menu.
Tonnarelli cacio e pepe (9/10/17 & 10/22/19). black pepper & pecorino fruili. cacio e pepe (cheese & pepper) is all the rage these days — funny how you never saw it until about 5-6 years ago. Very easy to make at home too if you get the right ingredients.
Chitarra (9/10/17). Ragu abruzzese & pecorino stagionato.
Busiate (9/10/17). Pesto trapanese & pecorino siciliano. Interesting corkscrews with a squash sauce.
Third visit (in October 2019) had these new pastas (and some repeats):
BUSIATI (10/1/19 & 10/22/19). pesto trapanese, pomodorini & pecorino siciliano. This had incredible bright tomato acidic flavors. Lots and lots of flavor and these thick rope-like pasta tendrils.
Tagliatelle (10/1/19). ragù bolognese“vecchia scuola” & parmigiano reggiano 24 mo. Different shaped pasta than it was a couple years ago. Good, but not my favorite.
MEZZE MANICHE ALLA GRICIA (10/1/19). guanciale, black pepper & pecorino romano DOP. A lot like a Carbonara, but maybe even porkier.
ORECCHIETTE (10/1/19 & 10/22/19). sausage sugo, spigarello, peperoncino & canestrato. Awesome bursts of flavor and really chewy have sphere pastas.
Fourth visit had yet more new pastas:
Special spinach and cheese stuffed pasta (10/22/19) with…
Expensive but delicious white truffles.
And cheese. Awesome, awesome dish.
STRANGOLAPRETI (10/22/19). heirloom spinach, ricotta & burro fuso e salvia. Really nice burnt butter balls.
Chef Evan Funke in his special pasta chamber.
Emil brought: 1989 Giovanni Corino Barolo Vigna Giachini. VM 91. Corino’s 1989 Barolo Vigna Giachini offers up cedar, mushrooms and a host of mostly mature aromas and flavors on a delicate, elegant frame. The tannins remain a touch firm, but there doesn’t appear to be much upside in holding bottles too much longer.
agavin: young still, but reaching maturity. Great Barolo!
Mezze Maniche all Gricia. Guanciale, black pepper & pecorino romano DOP. Pork fat, pepper, pecorino, flavors much like a cacio e pepe (leaning heavier on the pork) or carbonara (minus the egg). Super chew pasty, bright fatty flavors. Very Roman.
Rigatoni All’Amatricina. Guanciale, pomodoro & peccorino romano DOP. Classic version of this dish with extremely al dente pasta tubs and an excellent salty pork cheek fat flavor to the sauce (as it should).
Orecchiette. Susage sugo, broccoli di cicco, peperoncini & provola. Great texture to the pasta, this one had a “sausage” and “bitter green” vibe. It was really bracing and surprisingly delicious.
From my cellar: 2000 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Riserva Le Rocche del Falletto di Serralunga d’Alba. VM 97. I have had mixed experiences with Bruno Giacosa’s 2000 Barolo Riserva Le Rocche del Falletto, but this bottle, from a case I purchased on release, is absolutely stellar. Intensely sweet, floral aromas soar from the glass. Radiant, open-knit and super-expressive, the Riserva captures all the best qualities of the vintage. It has been a few years since I last tasted the 2000. In that time, the wine appears to have barely budged at all, which will come as welcome news to readers who own it. The 2000 Riserva doesn’t quite reach the heights of the truly epic Giacosa wines of the era, but it comes close, especially on this night. I can only hope that future bottles show this well.
agavin: I should have listened to my instincts. This was a fabulous wine, but I had brought 97 and 98 Gaja Barbaresco too and Yarom convinced me to open the red label. Even after 1.5 hours in the decanter this wasn’t even close to ready. Needs at least 10 more years.
Bistecca di Maiale. Peeds & Barnett Pork shoulder steak, nectarines and basil. Our lone “entree” was this salty bit of pork steak goodness. Paired nicely with the fruit and basil.
Bistecca di Maile (9/10/17). Peads & barnett pork shoulder steak, peaches & basil. Very slightly different.
Carre di agnello (9/10/17). rack of lamb, adriatic figs and mint. Great stuff.
Coppa di Maiale (10/1/19). Pork shoulder steak, porchini & sugo di arrogato. Interesting dish, and delicious.
A berry tart. Good but the weakest of the 3 desserts.
Tiramisu. I’m usually disappointed by tiramisu given how good my own is, but this one was excellent, as good as I’ve had in recent memory.
Budino. Walnuts or pecans. This was good stuff. I love adult pudding.
Chocolate Tart, figs (10/1/19).
Chocolate Tart, cherries (10/22/19).
Amaretto Gelato (10/1/19 & 10/22/19). Delicate, and not as good as mine (Sweet Milk) but nice nonetheless.
Overall, this was a pair of fabulous meals. The manager and staff took great care of us, despite being amazingly crowded (even at 5:45 on a Thursday one time, similar time on a Sunday the other). And the food was just really really good. It’s very much a hybrid of the contemporary bright flavor rustic Italian that has been so successful at places like Sotto and Bestia and an ultra traditional top notch pasta execution. Each pasta dish had it’s own pasta, each was cooked perfectly al dente, and despite many of the sauces sharing a lot of ingredients (pork jowl, here’s looking at you), they each had strong individual flavors. Really, really great pasta and overall not a single dish that missed, varying from very good to amazing.
In October of 2019 I went twice again, with smaller family groups. A bit of a pain to get into, and extremely loud, but the service is great and while expensive the dishes are really punched up. Love the salads, pizzas, and pastas. The mains and desserts are good but just fine. But the pastas, while not totally Italian authentic, are incredibly GOOD. Very punchy high acidity flavors. Lots of chewy interesting pasta shapes.
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Below are the 9/10/17 wines (the ones integrated above were from the 8/8/17 dinner).