Courtesy The Venetian
Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Since it first opened on the Strip almost 20 years ago, the Venetian has always been a definitive destination for Italian food in Las Vegas. Even as the megaresort’s restaurant lineup has evolved over the years — including the recent addition of diverse flavors at Sugarcane, Chica, Black Tap and Mercato della Pescheria — its culinary offerings have never strayed far from an Italian focus.
The newest destination is the Factory Kitchen, which opened on New Year’s Eve in the Venetian’s “restaurant row” space formerly occupied by B&B Ristorante. Named for the industrial area location in downtown Los Angeles where it originated in 2013, the restaurant is one of several popular concepts from Factory Place Hospitality Group, founded by restaurateur Matteo Ferdinandi and chef Angelo Auriana. The company is also set to bring its Sixth & Mill Pizzeria & Bar to the Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes this summer.
“It’s always a good time to expand to Las Vegas,” says Ferdinandi. “Expansion has been a necessity for us in the sense of creating opportunities for everyone. We have a lot of people who have been with us since day one in Los Angeles. Las Vegas is a big platform for exposure and we wanted to come here just for that, to be able to conquer that crowd and do more deals around the country.”
The Factory Kitchen is a much different experience than the more formal but also Italian-focused B&B. The new 152-seat restaurant was designed by Thomas Schlesser of Design Bureaux and includes a neon centerpiece in the intimate 25-seat lounge, hints of orange and forest green throughout a space finished in earth tones and a lively pasta-making station that stretches across the back of the dining room. It fits somewhere between casual and fine dining, which is exactly where Ferdinandi wants to be.
“Italian food is well-suited for Las Vegas today and the [younger] generation because it was never supposed to be fine dining to begin with. It was always the cuisine of the mothers rather than the cuisine of the kings like the French created,” he says. “Las Vegas is a very quick learner and fast adapter to not only the current trend but also anticipating that. What I find in Las Vegas is people who have never lived here don’t know that the community is so ahead, so prepared, so smart. There are not many places like this. The closest thing to New York is actually Las Vegas, it’s not L.A.”
The Factory Kitchen’s menu leans heavily on authentic preparations of regional specialties, “a journey to the Italian peninsula visiting specific cities,” he says. Among the pasta dishes are casonzel, pork sausage and veal ravioli in sage brown butter and the very popular mandilli di seta, “handkerchief” egg pasta with Ligurian almond-basil pesto. The CEO of Factory Place also recommends the frittura, beer-battered baby leeks, butternut squash and chickpea fritters with castelrosso fonduta, and the traditional focaccina calda al formaggio, very thin sheets of pastry dough layered with cheese and other fillings.
There’s plenty of other Italian food options at the Venetian and Palazzo and in virtually every other resort on the Strip, but Ferdinandi believes there’s one factor that sets this food apart.
“It’s the simplicity,” he says. “Dining has changed and everybody is aware of that. We learned a long time ago that between casual and fine dining, the middle ground always wins, and people come to Vegas for different purposes. Our menu is a different approach.
“You want pasta? No problem, it will come out in six minutes. You want to do something to share and go Italian-style with the pasta in the middle and an entrée? Sure. Any sides? We have them. We created a concept that doesn’t dictate anything to you, you dictate the concept. We have all those offerings to make you feel very comfortable.”
The Factory Kitchen is open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.