photo credit: Jakob Layman
There’s a lot to tell you about Felix. The climate-controlled pasta-making room comes to mind. As does the focaccia, that, on its own would be reason enough to eat here. You should also know that getting a table requires precision planning. But really, the main thing to note about Felix is that if you want a guaranteed excellent big night out, this is your spot. Felix is a confident, consistent restaurant where you’ll eat pasta that sends you into a fugue state and celebrate whatever you’re celebrating without any kind of hitch.
In our original review of Felix, we called this Italian restaurant on Abbot Kinney one of the best places to eat pasta in the city, and nothing about that statement has changed. In fact, other than a few tweaks made necessary by a global pandemic, not much else has either. Takeout came and went, but the back patio that opened in 2020 has stayed. Reservations are also slightly easier to secure—they’re released weekly, so if you set a reminder for first thing in the morning a week ahead of when you want to go, you should be able to secure a table. While you can no longer walk in and grab a seat at the bar (rest in peace to one of our all-time favorite restaurant hacks), this is essentially still the same Felix of 2017. And we mean that as a compliment.
In essence, Felix is about pasta. A good chunk of the main dining space is taken up by a climate-controlled pasta making room that continues to be the best single-use space we can think of since Martha Stewart’s present-wrapping room. Every pasta on the menu is made by hand and watching through the open windows while they do it is the best kind of dinner theater we can imagine. Given all that, any meal here should prioritize pasta. The rigatoni all’amatriciana and tonnarelli cacio e pepe are, rightfully, on almost every table, but there really aren’t any misses, whether you order a rich ragu bolognese or something with pesto. It is worth noting that all that air conditioning and hand-rolling means the pastas don’t come cheap—you’re looking at $25 to $40 for each of them.
Besides the pasta, we always make room for the sfincone, also known as the fluffy carb-based foodstuff of our dreams and the dish we’re likely to order two of. We usually add the crisp and perfect polpette, and a few other options from the antipasti section that catch our eye, like the gamberi and fiori di zucca, before moving on to the main event. Yes, there are pizzas and entrees on the menu that in any other restaurant we’d be happy with, but when we order them here, we mostly wish we’d ordered more pasta. Which is not an ideal situation when you’ve just forked out $68 for a steak.
Felix has a level of confidence we as humans could never dream of achieving. You know what you’re going to get with a meal here: excellent food, smooth service, and a sense of occasion. And as many bowls of pasta as you can handle.
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If bread is something you think about with regularity, you must—must—get this. And then send us a text with the deep feelings it invokes. It’s a salty, round focaccia that comes out soaked in the absolute correct amount of olive oil, and we have been known to order an extra one to “have with our eggs the next morning” (eat in the car on our way home as dessert).
Polpette della Maestra Allessandra
These meatballs are perfect. They are crispy (yes, they are fried), prosciutto and mortadella are involved, and the salsa verde underneath cuts through the salty-richness.
These head-on shrimp also come with a green sauce, and are also a great way to kick off your meal.
To be clear, we haven’t had a bad pasta at Felix, so our advice is really just to go with whatever sounds the best to you. If we’re going to push one in particular on you though, it’s the amatriciana. The guanciale is crispy and tastes like the essence of pork, and rigatoni is the perfect showcase for the pasta perfection coming out of the dedicated room.
Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe
Also extremely good (and also on almost every table in the restaurant). Just know that, unlike other renditions around town, they don’t skimp on the pepper, and the results speak for themselves.
This comes with ragù bolognese “vecchia scuola,” and that “old school” mention tells you all you need to know. This is what we think about when we’re thinking about bolognese, and if we could, we’d eat it once a week.
Tagliata di Manzo
Every time we’re at Felix, we debate about ordering something from the Secondi section. And to be honest, we almost always regret doing that. This sliced rib eye is well cooked, if over-salted, and the $68 price tag stings when we think about how we could have ordered two more pastas instead.