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LA’s Italian Star Felix Is Eyeing NYC for an Outpost

Chef Evan Funke’s hand-rolled pastas may eventually make their way here

Rigatoni all’Amatriciana from Felix
Rigatoni all’Amatriciana from Felix
Photo by Bill Addison

New York could eventually be home to an outpost of Felix Trattoria, an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles that one of the biggest and most acclaimed openings of 2017. Its chef Evan Funke — whose hand-rolled pasta landed him on the James Beard long list this year — tells Eater National that the wave of success has him eyeing expansion, including duplicating Felix here.

He doesn’t have specific plans yet, but Toronto-based restaurant group Gusto 54 is ready to capitalize on Funke’s popularity for more restaurants. “I think that New York’s palate is very elevated, and a restaurant like Felix would do very well there,” Funke says.

The chef made his name at fellow LA Italian restaurant Bucato, from which he resigned in 2015, and Felix, which opened in April 2017, was his much-awaited return to the dining scene. Since then, he’s landed on Eater National’s best new restaurant list, Esquire’s best new restaurant list, and the James Beard Awards semifinalist list for best new restaurant — not to mention long waits at the Venice restaurant itself.

Of course, New York might just be the most crowded market in America for high-end, ambitious Italian food. To name just a few, high-profile (and also wildly popular) restaurateurs and chefs like Danny Meyer, Andrew Carmellini, Major Food Group, Missy Robbins, Rita Sodi, Ignacio Mattos, and David Chang all have pasta restaurants. Plus, solid neighborhood Italian restaurants like Frankies, Celeste, Al Di La, Fausto, and Barano are practically the bread-and-butter of casual dining in New York.

But that also means New Yorkers freaking love pasta. Funke tells Eater National that he’s aware of his outsider status. “For me the most important thing is that we’re not an invasive species,” he says. No timeline yet for the expansion, but stay tuned.