Saturday, December 26, 2009

Osteria Mozza - Los Angeles, CA

The week before Christmas has been the week of overindulgence for me. It's ridiculous how much I've been eating, and the scary part is that I don't think it will get any better when I go to Korea. I really hope I can detox this weekend and let my stomach rest before the gluttony continues again in Seoul. But first, here's a recap of a lovely meal I had at Osteria Mozza a few days ago.

Osteria Mozza is the brainchild of Mario Batali, Nancy Silverton and Joe Bastianich. It's been around for over 2 years now and it is still wildly popular. I pass by Osteria Mozza all the time, but it always looks crowded and difficult to get reservations so I tossed it into my, "one of these days, I'll try it" basket and forgot about it. This week, James suggested we just try walking in and seeing if we could get a table. We went to the Pizzeria first thinking it was the Osteria and they told us a table wouldn't be available till 11 pm and the wait at the bar was about 30 minutes. It's a small space but boy was it bustling. After we figured out we were at the Pizzeria (we got to see Michael J. Fox though!), we found our way to the Osteria. I can't recall how long the wait was for a table at the Osteria, but she said we could just order at the bar area as well. There were empty seats at the bar, so we didn't end up waiting at all. Sweet!

Everything on the menu looked really good, particularly the antipasti and the mozzarellas. We were going to try a bunch of starters and share a pasta or entree, but the bartender told us about a special three-course menu that they had, which included a choice of mozzarella, pasta, dessert and a glass of white or red wine for $35. It sounded like too good of a deal to pass up, so we tried the tasting menu.

Here's our amuse bouches. It was two slices of thin crostini with fresh ricotta, olive tapenade, basil and Tuscan olive oil. Yum. The ricotta was creamy and mild. Ricottas are really making a comeback in my book these days.
For our mozzarella, we asked the waiter for suggestions and he suggested the Burricotti with braised artichokes, pine nuts, currants and mint pesto. I wish there was a way to cut this perfectly so you get each element in each bite, because it kind of falls apart when you cut into it. But once you are able to put a bit of everything on your fork and take a bite, it's fantastic. The cheese is clearly the show horse, but the pesto, artichokes, currants and pine nuts go really well together.
Our other pick was the Burrata with bacon, marinated escarole and caramelized shallots. The marinated escarole added a bit of acidity to the dish, which worked really well with the salty bacon and creaminess of the burrata. Both mozzarella dishes were delicious. I might have to make a meal out of just cheese next time. For our pasta dish, we inquired about the linguine with clams, pancetta and spicy Fresno chiles, but the waiter told us that it's a popular dish but people tend to think it's a bit salty. He said that they don't add any salt to the dish, but the saltiness comes from the pancetta. He recommended the Agnolotti and the Orecchiette with sausages and Swiss chard. We were happy with his recommendations on the mozzarella so we ordered those two dishes. I've never had Agnolotti before but they look like mini dumplings filled with a mousse like filling of lamb, pork, veal and probably other things he mentioned but I just forgot. It comes with a butter and sage sauce. It was delicious. A burst of flavor in each little bite. A very subtle but flavorful dish.
The Orecchiette w/ sausage & Swiss chard was really good too, but a bit on the salty side. I presume it's from the sausages themselves too. The waiter sprinkled the dish with breadcrumbs, which added a nice crunch and texture to the dish. The orecchiette pasta was tender and was the perfect accoutrement in capturing the morsels of sausage. I kind of wish they had more Swiss chard in this, but still good.
For dessert, we tried the Bombolini, which were Italian donuts, with huckleberry compote, vanilla gelato and mascarpone. Huckleberry compote tasted like a tartier version of blueberry compote. You can never go wrong with fried dough, right?
James picked the Cioccolato, a bittersweet, flourless chocolate cake with Perugian chocolates. It was a bit too chocolately for me, but James suggested taking a bit of his chocolate sauce and putting them on the donuts and compote, and that was delicious.
All in all, a wonderful meal.

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza are in the same building on the corner of Melrose and Highland. The entrance to Osteria is right at the corner, hence the Melrose address, and the Pizzeria is on the Highland side at 641 N. Highland Ave.

Right next door to Osteria Mozza, is Mozza2Go, where you can Pizzeria Mozza's pizzas to go and also buy ingredients from the Mozza kitchen to use at home. They also have a "Scuola di Pizza" a private event room with an exhibition kitchen where they teach you how to make some of their dishes.

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