Friday, August 14, 2009
Osteria Mozza: Superb
I was pleasantly surprised at how good Osteria Mozza was. Yes, I had my doubts for its connections with Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery fame and Mario Batali. It was hyped but wow, the food and service blew me away.
I admit I ordered things Irene Virbina of LA Times recommended, like the egg and ricotta-filled giant raviolo that comes in one and the grilled quail. Both were fantastic, especially the ravioli whose egg oozed out when I poked it. Runny, creamy and the ricotta cheese complemented the browned butter so perfectly. This combo was genius.
The grilled quail was also fantastic -- moist, wrapped in pancetta, charred nicely outside and topped with sage and honey. It didn't taste too gamey and the meat was very tender.
One thing that's a bit different is it has a "mozzarella bar" section on the menu where you can sample buffalo mozzarella, burrata, a hybrid of mozzarella and ricotta and all sorts of funky mozzarella served with braised artichokes, pine nuts, currants and mint pesto, which is the one I had.
Because Silverton is a famous bread lady, I had high expectations for its complimentary bread. I was not blown away but was not disappointed either. It served little pieces of sliced baguettes topped with goat cheese, a tapenade-like paste and crisp basil ribbons.
The linguine with clams, pancetta and spicy Fresno chiles was not very spicy, despite what our waiter said about the kick. My dinner companion doesn't eat pork so had to skip the pancetta or put it on the side and that clearly took away from the dish. It's like removing the soul out of a dish, in my book. To be fair, our waiter did warn us that it wouldn't be as good without the pancetta.
The regular service as well as the wine service were excellent. Pleasant and helpful but not solicitous. The manager checked in on us and sommelier tried very hard to find me a good red but alas, it wasn't to be. I had an issue with my palate that night so skipped the wine. This didn't take away from my meal, however.
The desserts of chocolate cake with almonds and cake, berry and brittle concoction were good but nothing to write home about. The chocolate cake was far better than the latter. As you can tell, I like oozing things, and much to my delight, this cake's interior had some serious oozing chocolate action going on. Candied almonds helped to give it a bite.
I would most definitely return to sample more. The only thing is that I'm not crazy about the weird reservation policy of only being able to book exactly a month in advance and the 15-minute wait policy even if you're calling to tell them you're coming to claim your table. Not to mention the annoying wait and automated answering if you call the restaurant. That needs to be changed immediately!
6602 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038