Archive for August 10th, 2009

10th August
written by spd

The elegant marble mozzarella bar at Mozza

I rarely opt for Italian when eating out, as I find my favorite dishes are quite easy and inexpensive to prepare at home.  Still, when scouring LA’s Menupages, I could find only one fine restaurant with a 5:30 dinner seating (my call at the theatre is 7:30).  To my great delight, that restaurant was Osteria Mozza, the posh lovechild of three venerable names in Italian cooking:  Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich.  After nearly 17 years of friendship (and Seven James Beard Awards among them), this is the trio’s first outing.  I’m happy to report that this is Italian at it’s best … and I couldn’t conceive of turning out half of the dishes served to me this past Thursday!

The meal begins with complimentary ricotta, tapenade and basil crustini.  The cheese is, of course, fantastic, and the tapenade is divine!  The bread that is delivered after drinks are placed is also quite good; I’m sure I can credit Silverton with that, given her beginnings at La Brea Bakery.

The starters do not disappoint!  The creamy Burrata with Grilled Asparagus, Brown Butter, Guanciale & Sicilian almonds tastes exactly the way you want it to taste.  Good ingredients don’t need to be fussed with, and this Burrata is perfection. The centerpiece of the dining room is a massive L-shaped mozzarella bar, so as you can guess, the antipasti list contains more than a dozen fromage-centric plates.  I’m sure all are just as lovely.  The Grilled Octopus with potatoes, celery & lemon is also bright, and perfectly prepared.  David didn’t care for the celery, but since I never care for celery, I was surprised to find it a worthy choice.

Grilled Octopus with Celery, Potatoes and Lemon

Grilled Octopus with Celery, Potatoes and Lemon

We split our primi, the Taglietelle Verde with Lamb Ragu.  (Even though the server was quite unenthusiastic, I was pleased that he served us two half portions on separate plates.) This was the course that lingered on my tongue and in my mind for days afterwards.  The fresh mint, folded and wilted into the complex ragu, made this dish.  The pasta itself – thick and al dente – wasn’t too shabby either. By now, it was evident that the chef de cuisine knew what he was doing!  We ended with the Sweetbreads Piccata with Artichokes.  There was a huge gap of time between this course and the previous one.  And the sauce was overbearingly acidic.  But ignore that – the preparation of the sweetbreads themselves was so divine that it sparked a five-minute conversation!  Often too heavily fried, or not crisp enough on the outside, these were texturally sublime.  We ate them slowly, to make them last.

I was busting at the seams when I began my show, but I don’t regret a bite.  It’s a meal worth spending money on.  I knew little about Mozza before entering the dining room (I didn’t even know that they were in possession of a coveted Michelin star), and my experience exceeded what would have been high expectations.

Osteria Mozza. 6602 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90038-3410.  ph (323) 297-0100

Comments Off on Traveling Tongue: Osteria Mozza on Melrose in Los Angeles, CA