Matteo Ferdinandi and Chef Angelo Auriana
Photos courtesy Factory Place Hospitality Group
The Venetian has an obvious soft spot for Italian restaurants. Mario Batali’s Venetian restaurants closed, leaving an opportunity for Los Angeles’ The Factory Kitchen to open, as it did in late December. We chatted with partner Matteo Ferdinandi and Chef Angelo Auriana about what the restaurant brings to the Strip and Las Vegas.
Why bring the concept to Las Vegas?
Matteo Ferdinandi: I was in Las Vegas nearly 20 years ago as general manager of Spago, so it’s a homecoming. Factory Kitchen is new to Vegas with concepts, but I’m not new in running businesses. Between then and now, (Las Vegas has) changed dramatically, new dynamics and sports teams and it’s about excitement. It’s a homecoming for me and I’m excited as the city keeps transforming itself.
How has the food on the Strip changed while you were away?
MF: Once upon a time, all the restaurants were going very fine dining. Of course, we come from that school, but when we shaped up the concept, we wanted to make sure we brought our Italian upbringing and it’s never seen as fine dining or super expensive. What we bring is a very down to earth environment, great knowledgeable service and (the menu) reflects the recipes from throughout the peninsula.
People want an ambiance that is comfortable to all senses; once up on a time you went out and had to spend this much money to dine. Italian is not a cuisine ever set up that way; it makes you very comfortable with all sense.
How will the food be different from other Italian restaurants?
Angelo Auriana: This is little known: Italian cooking is pretty regional. If you’ve ever been to Rome or Venice, you actually don’t really see details of the nuances and classic recipes of Italian cooking, you go to touristic environments where they try to camouflage Italian food. The Factory Kitchen is designed to make everything from scratch in the dining room, this beautiful ballet of people making fresh pasta in front of you and discover a few of the regions less visited. The Factory Kitchen menu is a journey to Italy with
The U.S. in general, the Italian cuisine has changed. Before it was mom and dad, American Italians, suitable for the migration. They probably were not restaurateurs, because it was open land. Now knowledge of the culture, traveling and necessity, there’s much more variety.
Give us a little bit of the backstory on the original Factory Kitchen?
MF: We opened in 2013, in a very interesting area. We like that it was called the Art District, an up and coming and off the beaten path area. So, it was really interesting for us to create a little oasis of Italian food. The Factory Kitchen doesn’t say Italian, but sit down and see the menu, it’s Italian. There’s significance to make everything from scratch: desserts, bread, pastas.
So the menu truly is a journey through Italy?
MF: If you want to present a wine list and focus just on one region, no matter how good the region, you limit it and leave out other incredible possibilities. When you have someone outside of Italy and go, because of size and shape, they can visit four, five cities in a few days and we want to capture that journey. People tend to be up to date, people want the choice, you don’t have to go to crazy.
For example, we don’t have one recipe for pasta dough, we’ll make all sorts. Each has its own ingredients. Starting with pasta itself, one will have white wine, one has whole eggs, different flours. If you have linguine with white sauce, the interaction with pasta and sauce is what you like texture wise. If I do the same clam sauce with bowtie, it will change the sensation. Each shape, each texture, the sauce doesn’t overpower. You showcase all the elements, they’re in harmony and balance.
You’re opening a second Las Vegas restaurant too, sixth+mill pizzeria in April at the Grand Canal Shoppes. Why?
AA: For myself, you have to take opportunities as they come as a business person. We do have something similar in Los Angeles, we have three in a row. We think that by adding the meal concept, southern Italian focus, the pasta, we again have the opportunity to introduce customers to the rest of Italy that we can’t show in the Factory. Complete, and add validity to our commitment to represent the country.
MF: It’s like playing on a national stage, a unique place people come from all over the world. The exposure we believe we’ll get from Vegas will hopefully lead to more deals.
You’re thinking beyond Los Angeles and Vegas?
AA: We are on a mission. I think of Las Vegas as a platform, an audience that really lets you open up many variants in terms of people coming in, even from abroad. Who knows? We’ll see.