Courtesy of sixth+mill

The L.A. chef adds sixth+mill to his Arts District empire with a pizza oven from Naples and pizza he refuses to call Neapolitan.

Andy Wang
February 21, 2018

“We are Italian,” Matteo Ferdinandi says as he opens the door to this newest restaurant space. “We represent what our country is all about.”

All lowercase sixth+mill, the pizzeria and bar that Ferdinandi and chef Angelo Auriana are opening in L.A.’s Arts District this April, will make pizza dough with different Italian flours and Sicilian salt. Toppings will include fior di latte from Agerola in Naples. There will be Apulian extra-virgin olive oil, Calabrian chiles, prosciutto di Parma and Sicilian anchovies. The restaurant will also have a variety of Italian tomatoes, not just for pizza but also for pastas and entrées.

“It’s really a tomato-driven concept,” Auriana says.

So sixth+mill’s logo is artwork of tomato splatter, which is something you’ll see outside the restaurant, on its menu and on its website. Here’s a first look at the spot.

The restaurant is all about southern Italy (and affordability)

Auriana and Ferdinandi run an Italian restaurant empire in the Arts District. sixth+mill is next to Officine Brera, a northern Italian restaurant known for Auriana’s spectacular risottos and meaty dishes like spit-roasted stuffed suckling pig with guanciale mashed potatoes. It's also a five-minute walk away from The Factory Kitchen, where Auriana takes guests all over Italy with beautiful housemade pasta and other trattoria-style cuisine.

sixth+mill will complete the trifecta by focusing on southern Italian food and becoming Auriana’s most accessible restaurant. Almost every dish at this casual spot will be under $20, and some starters, like fritters, will be $5 or less. The 85-seat restaurant will open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Given that this is endless-summer L.A., you can expect to see people eating pizza on the terrace year-round.

“Italian food, there’s no fuss,” Ferdinandi says. “It’s really food you eat every day in every situation. That’s how we grew up. Pizza was what my father took me to every Wednesday. It was always my favorite.”

Billed as a pizzeria and bar, sixth+mill will have a lot more than pizza.

“This is the only one of the three restaurants that takes care of the south in its entirety,” Auriana says.

Auriana is working on vegetable antipasto and bruschetta with ‘nduja. He’ll have salads with local organic greens. He’s planning pastas like gnocchi Sorrentina, linguine with littleneck clams, orecchiette with broccoli rabe and Apulian cavatieddi with tomato.

Jesus Banuelos

Auriana remembers the Sunday suppers in Italy that his father prepared with “southern punch and southern flavor.” His dad would make pasta al forno, a tomato-driven baked dish that’s “very different than lasagna bolognese, which has béchamel.” sixth+mill will showcase Auriana’s pasta al forno with tomato ragù, mortadella, boiled egg and caciocavallo.

For entrées, guests can expect mussels, chicken and tomato-laden plates like eggplant Parmigiana, pork sausage and pork-veal-beef meatballs.

The pizza is deeply Italian, but Auriana won't say it’s Neapolitan

When you walk into sixth+mill, one of the first things you’ll see is a big black pizza oven behind the host stand. The igloo-shaped, wood-fired oven was made in Naples by Mario Acunto, a company that’s created pizza ovens for more than a century.

“It’s a Neapolitan oven, so that means I’m already halfway to making Neapolitan pizza,” Auriana says.

But Auriana remembers growing up in northern Italy and seeing his southern Italian father make pizza with a gas stove. He recalls being 14 and telling a Neapolitan pizza maker, who had a restaurant near his house, that his father’s pizza was better. The pizzaiolo and Auriana’s father ended up meeting and discussing pizza.

Auriana appreciates the “baker-style pizza” his father used to make, so he’s adapting his father’s old recipes for sixth+mill’s oven, which can cook pizzas in 90 seconds compared to the 25 minutes it takes on a gas stove. Because Neapolitan pizza can mean different things to different people, including organizations that are strict about their definition, Auriana’s not going to classify his pizza. He stresses again and again that he’s just making “sixth+mill pizza” while using an oven from Naples.

“I don’t want the label to say that the pizza’s Neapolitan or not, because there’s this confusion,” he says. “I’m not going to be the one to sit at a table to decide what’s Neapolitan and what’s not.”

His pizza will stick to a basic dough recipe: flours Auriana and his team are mixing themselves, plus salt, water and yeast. They'll use three to five different Italian tomatoes for his pizzas and other menu items.

“To me, the best tomatoes for pizza are grown in Apulia,” Auriana says.

He’ll also have a pizza with Calabrian cherry tomatoes. He’s not ruling out using California tomatoes at sixth+mill, but this is a steadfastly Italian restaurant, so he’s focusing on Italian tomatoes for now.

The Italian wines are priced for everyday drinking

“The wines will be only Italian,” says sommelier Francine Diamond-Ferdinandi. “We’re looking to keep the price low.”

There will be plenty of wines by the glass for $10 or less, and bottles will mostly range from $35 to $50.

“I tasted a lot of bad wines to find the good ones at that price point,” Diamond-Ferdinandi says.

The wine list will feature selections from small, family-owned wineries, and guests can expect southern Italian wines like falanghina.

“It’s not exclusively from the south, but we do have a big focus on southern Italian wine,” Diamond-Ferdinandi says.

The restaurant will have a full bar, and there will be a bigger beer list (including selections from Arts District brewers) than what you’ll find at The Factory Kitchen and Officine Brera.

Whether you’re in Italy or L.A., there are few combinations that scream day-to-day like pizza and beer.

sixth+mill, 1335 E. 6th St., Los Angele