oh yeah, chowseeker, great lookin pizza & pastas!
Shouldn’t that be “just enough Funke”?
Looks really good @Chowseeker1999 Nice write up.
I thought it was interesting and pretty cool that Funke split the menu by North, Central, South, and the Islands.
That in itself is quite an on-taking, to make specific regional Italian cuisine…but then taking on so many of the regions at once? Madonna!
Did you pick up any hints of chicken liver in the Ragu alla Bolognese? It does look legit…no tomatoes (only conserva) and the color is definitely right.
Can’t wait to try this.
We were definitely impressed that Chef Funke wanted to present so many different regional styles of pasta, on his opening menu no less!
The Bolognese, there was an undertone that was beyond just the ground meat… it might’ve been chicken liver, but it wasn’t very pronounced. I’ll be sure to check the next time we’re there.
And thanks for the info on traditional Bolognese. So ideally it shouldn’t ever have any tomatoes in it? Good to know.
And I await your (and other pasta experts) thoughts on the place. Hope you like it and please report back!
There can be some tomato paste (just a bit) but it’s not a tomato sauce it’s about the braised meat and nice savory braising liquid. AFAIK anyway
It’s traditionally made without tomatoes. As stated by @aaqjr only a small amount of tomato paste or conserva is used, and that is cooked down, dry, until it becomes an almost rust-like color, before the milk is added.
Time for a 2nd visit, and a dear friend (who loves Pasta) was in town.
For the 2nd night of their Grand Opening weekend, things were calmer, but still busy (with a bunch of people waiting near the bar).
Their Pasta Room is at the center of the restaurant, which makes for a great centerpiece and a talking point for guests perhaps.
Agrumi (Citrus, Fennel, Olive, Mint & Pistachio):
An excellent starter, showcasing some of the goals that Chef Funke hopes to achieve with Felix, showcasing fresh California produce through the traditional recipes he’s learned from Italy. The Grapefruit, Blood Orange and Tangerine citrus were the center of this Salad, but the Extra Virgin Olive Oil was stunning! From the first bite, we both noted the aromatic, beautiful flavor of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil; serious quality.
The Pistachios, a bit of Mint and the thinly shaved Fennel all worked perfectly together.
Polpette Della Maestra Alessandra (Pork Meatballs, Salsa Verde & Parmigiano Reggiano):
Another hint at just how deeply his travels and studying in Italy touched him, this is one of Chef Funke’s favorite Antipasti, named in tribute to the Chef in Italy that taught him this recipe. These are distinct Meatballs, different from the usual thick, dense offerings at many places.
Using a mix of Mortadella, Prosciutto di Parma, Pork Shoulder, and Parmigiano Reggiano, these Meatballs have a wonderful depth of porky flavor (although just a touch salty). But it’s the texture that really stands out: You immediately get this engaging crunch from the exterior, giving way to a soft, tender interior.
Fiori Di Zucca (Squash Blossoms, Fior Di Latte & Green Garlic):
Flawless! So light and delicately crispy! They use an Eggless Tempura Batter (@MaladyNelson and others with dietary restrictions), and the result is one of the best executions of Squash Blossoms with the so light and airy Fior di Latte oozing out with each bite. Wonderful!
Too Soon? (Gin & Amaro, Lemon, Cucumber):
Balanced, refreshing, with just the right amount of citrus and Cucumber flavors peeking through (without overpowering).
Quattro Formaggi Pizza (Mozzarella Di Bufala, Ricotta, Asiago Di Verona & Crescenza):
While one section of the Pizza was burnt, it was generally very good. The four Cheeses really lent to a nice blend of flavors, and the Pizza dough is still quite tasty, done in the Neapolitan style, and about the same as our first visit (except for the section that got charred).
Their Calabrese Pizza is still my favorite, but this one is a nice alternative for those wanting something with no meat.
Gnoccetti Riposo (Oxtail Ragu Napoletana, Mozzarella):
This was the first Pasta that was a real disappointment at Felix so far: Oxtail Ragu Napoletana sounded wonderful… but strangely the Sauce evoked the taste of “Barbecue Sauce” It obviously wasn’t actual Barbecue Sauce, but there was a smoky and sweet component to the Oxtail Ragu this evening. It was really offputting, and our guest felt the same, asking me in surprise, “Doesn’t this taste like BBQ Sauce?”
Orecchiette (Cime Di Rapa, Anchovies, Pecorino Pugliese):
Yes, in just the 2nd evening of service, Chef Evan Funke is already introducing new Sauces and combinations!
One of our favorites from the Grand Opening was the Orecchiette with Sausage Sugo. For the 2nd evening, Chef Funke has already taken his wonderful Orecchiette and created a brand new Sauce, this one with lightly sauteed Cimi di Rapa leaves, infused with a beautiful brininess from Anchovies, and a nice pungency from the Pecorino Pugliese.
The Orecchiete Pasta are perfect, rustic and with just the right amount of chew, and while it was the same Pasta shape, the new Pesto-like Sauce made this a distinctly new dish. Wonderful!
Spaghetti (Bottarga Di Muggine, XVO & Peperoncino):
From the Island section of the menu, their Handmade Spaghetti was also al dente and cooked just right. The Bottarga provided enough salinity for each bite, but it felt a bit lacking in flavor depth. However, this turned out to be our guest’s favorite Pasta this evening. I thought it was fine, but could’ve used something else to elevate it.
My favorite Pasta of the evening, the Guanciale really made this dish: A beautiful pungent porkiness from the Cured Pork Jowl, and it combined well with the Tomato Sauce.
They also were offering the Costata Alla Fiorentina, but it was a monster cut: A 40 oz Ribeye(!) (and they said they’d have larger cuts as well in the future) which reminded me of the ridiculous 96 oz’er that @TheCookie (or @Bookwich) mentioned at The Cannibal. I suppose it’s “only” about half the size of that Steak, but still, it seems it’d be best for large parties only at that point.
They also said that they might start dry aging their Steaks in the near future (so hopefully they’ll have smaller cuts offered as well).
Service was much better on this evening, with only a slight delay when the Pastas were due (everything else was timely and nicely paced). Dinner this evening ran roughly $80 per person total, which might seem pricey for mainly enjoying Pastas and some Appetizers, but it depends on how much enjoyment you derive from it.
From this follow-up visit, Felix is starting to take more shape: The Pasta themselves have been perfectly cooked each time (nothing over or under cooked), but some of the dishes could use some flavor improvements (from the safe / basic Cacio e Pepe, to the underwhelming Pesto, to the off-putting BBQ Sauce-like Gnocchetti Riposo).
But then you get their sublime Pappardelle Ragu Bolognese, the Orecchiette with Sausage Sugo, or the new Orecchiette with Cime Di Rapa & Anchovies, and the Rigatoni All 'Amatrciana, and feel all is right in the world.
If Chef Funke ends up rotating in new Pastas & Sauces each week (ala Guerilla Tacos), Felix might turn into something even more intriguing (as long as the Sauces continue to deliver like the Ragu Bolognese).
1023 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
Tel: (424) 387-8622
Thanks @lapizzamaven. I need to get over to South End (your fav) soon. Hopefully you get a chance to try this and see how it compares. Felix doesn’t dethrone DeSano, but the Calabrese was definitely enjoyable.
Yumm! @Chowseeker1999 -
It wasn’t me who had the infamously, huge ribeye at Cannibal. But I’m glad you gave me a shout-out. I might have missed this excellent report.
I’m not suprised about the delicious Squash Blossoms. We had them for the first time at Pizzeria Mozza and wondered what all the fuss was about. Then we had Chef Funke’s at Rustic Canyon . I hope they improve upon the Cacio e Pepe, another dish of his I loved at Bucato. The Agrumi looks refreshingly wonderful; love those combinations. The Bolognese and the Sausage Sugo have my d.h.'s name on them .
Chowseeker, have you been to Stella Barra in SM? had a great pie there too, recently
Yes! We loved the Squash Blossoms at Mozza as well a few years back, and I think the ones at Felix by Chef Funke are even better (and lighter). Delicious.
I think you might like the Ricotta Con La Vignarola (Bellwether Ricotta, Spring Vegetables) with the Grilled Bread if you end up going.
Hi @Chowseeker1999 - [quote=“Chowseeker1999, post:12, topic:5413”]
Ricotta Con La Vignarola
[/quote] Yes, that looked particularly good! Sometimes I want to comment on everything in your reports - the good, the bad, the delish - but that would be a report in itself, haha.
What are your favorite types of pasta dishes, just curious?
I went once years ago, when it first opened up. I remember it being like a Pizzeria Mozza-style pie. Is it still the same these days? Or did they change it a bit?
It was solid back then, but I remember thinking, I’d rather eat Mozza (but would be glad to eat SB again, when we didn’t feel like driving). Any recommended pies? Thanks!
Do you mean in terms of size and “chew?” I would sort of peg it btw a NY pie and a Mozza pie. I only had Stella Barra a couple of times, but I’ve really enjoyed their pies (I liked the one I had at Mozza, too, although I have no strong urge to return).
Hey chowseeker…yes theres a similarity to the Mozza pie but not the exaggerarated, bulbous lip of Mozza pies which limits toppings acreage…Stella Barra has a nice chewy, bread-like crust and i only had the margherita w/sausage which is my go to pie…excellent, fennel sausage…i stopped going there because they were a bit inconsistent(an occasional gummy crust), only open 5pm on and was noisy…a friend swears to their consistency and i go mid afternoon so its not crowded and not noisy.
Paranoidgarliclover, not sure id agree that it resembled a NY pie…def similar to Mozza but not their “fat lip” or cornicione!
I was going by the fat lip. So would you say it’s chew of the crust and the quality of the toppings that makes it more similar to Mozza?
There’s also a Stella Barra near the Arclight. Not sure of the noise level there, though.
Yah, agree it’s not the outer crust / “lip” that’s like Mozza (that’s its own thing ;)), but there’s something with the chew and consistency of the dough, etc. that reminded us of Mozza the 2 times we went (not in a bad way), but it was like it felt like it was inspired by or a homage to that style.
And that’s actually a bit of a cool thing - to have your own hyper-local style of food being developed here - it reminded me of reading @robert’s comments about Cotogna’s Pizza style, how it was representative of a local style in that neighborhood.