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Opening night at Osteria Mozza

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Dylan Jul 14, 2007 12:03 AM

I had dinner at Osteria Mozza tonight. It was officially the restaurant's first night, though I understand they've had a soft opening for the whole week. Overall, Nancy and Mario have another winner. The space feels a little more formal than Pizzeria Mozza but not so formal that you wouldn't feel comfortable walking in on a whim and eating at the bar. (It wasn't clear to me if the bar is walk-in like Pizzeria Mozza, but I hope it is. Otherwise, it will be very hard to get in there for a long time.) The room is clean dark wood and white marble. As with Pizzeria Mozza, the staff is unusually attentive and friendly, although there were a few opening night jitters (nothing that won't be ironed out).

There were a few celebrities there tonight, most recognizable was Mario Batali who was dining with his family and wearing his orange apron and orange kitchen clogs. Nancy was, of course, working the line - unlike many celebrity chefs she seems to be involved with every detail of the restaurant, and it shows.

The menu features a section of mozzarella appetitizers. We had two - their version of a caprese only the buffalo mozzarella was thinly sliced and rolled with tomatoes and basil, and a scarmoza panini with mole salame and pickled hot chiles -- nicely spicy. We also had the "gnoccho frito," which were deep fried bread pillows served with an assortment of cured meats; I found the dish too heavy, but it would appeal to a lardo lover. Three pastas: the standout was an orechietti with sausage and chard. This is a must order dish; the sausage and chard melted together in an extremely satisfying way. Gnocchi al forno were served with a traditional tomato sauce with ricotta. The gnocchi themselves were quite good, not quite ethereally light, but still delicious; the tomato sauce was extremely bright and fresh tasting. Then, a giant raviolo filled with ricotta and a soft egg yolk, served with a brown butter sauce - rich but good. We had two mains, a fish whose name I can't recall -- but extremely fresh and served with a grilled lemon. And excellent lamb chops with Greek yogurt and a very fresh Israeli couscous salad.

Side dishes were small but delicious: a slow cooked broccoli, which will change your views that broccoli must be served al dente to be delicious (this broccoli is verging on gray, so soft is was almost custard-like, but quite satisfying). Then the best roasted potatoes I've had this year; they seemed to be small Yukon golds which had been poached in chicken broth, then smashed lightly and sauteed in copious amounts of olive oil. And a very good spinach dish.

There were three options for cheese: a pecorino tasting, a soft cheese tasting, and a blue cheese tasting. We opted for the soft cheeses. These were all very good, but quite strong; go for the pecorino tasting if you prefer milder cheeses.

Two desserts. The almond cornette was an almond croissant infused with flower water syrup, served with an intense stewed plum, and Osteria's version of Pinkberry - a wonderful frozen greek yogurt. An extremely well balanced dish. Torta Della Nonna was excellent, but more cheesecake-like than this dish normally is. Homemade panettone squares were passed with the coffee.

Overall, a great experience. Not inexpensive though - dinner came to about $500 for four including tip and a couple of good bottles of wine. Pizzeria Mozza has become my favorite restaurant in LA, and while the Osteria doesn't have some of the features that make the pizzeria so accessible (in particular, the long hours seven days a week), I plan to go back regularly.

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  1. q
    quinntran Jul 14, 2007 12:30 AM

    yummy! I wonder if the slow-cooked brocolli is the same one featured in Nancy Silverton's sandwich book? I can't wait to go. Thank you for the great review.

    1. a
      alison Jul 14, 2007 08:52 AM

      For us the standouts were:
      - the raviolo-amazing & great presentation,agree on the rich but goodness.
      -Also had the fish (Secondi);I believe it is branzino, served whole & stuffed w/herbs, very fragrant & moist.
      -the pig trotters( app.)
      -the pork(Secondi);very moist & flavorful-we think it had been brined.
      -the guinea hen (Secondi):very tasty
      -Santa Barbara spot prawns fra diablo: very yummy, but spicy.
      -bomblini(dessert) : mini beignets served w/ raspberry coulis, plus raspberry gelato-like a jelly donut !!
      -Agree w/ the sides-enough to serve 2, but very soft.
      We had the broccoli, the spinach , the long beans & the cippolini-all were good.

      No sign of Mario(we were there Thursday night), but Nancy & Joe Bastianich were there, both working.

      Wine list looks good: Nothing local, all Italian. We were told it was still a work in progress, but some great bottles and some affordable bottles too.

      Enjoy !!!

      1. n
        nimo Jul 14, 2007 10:02 AM

        I'm lukewarm about their Pizzeria, but this does sound very good indeed. However, those prices are pretty outrageous for an osteria, especially considering you can eat and drink at Angelini for considerably less than $125 a head.

        1. j
          Jen Eno Jul 14, 2007 10:06 AM

          We were the beneficiaries of the Osteria's walk-in policy at sat at the mozzarella bar on opening night!

          The food was incredible (the full menu is offered at the bar) and we loved being right in the action. Beautiful antipasti plates were composed before our eyes.

          Chef Nancy Silverton told us they are planning on a ramp-up period where they'll keep the number of nightly reservations to a minimum and allow for walk-ins.

          We enjoyed different menu choices -- all exquisite -- which you can read more about here: http://epicureanquest.blogspot.com/20...

          Cheers,
          Jennifer

          3 Replies
          1. re: Jen Eno
            love2eat Jul 14, 2007 10:15 AM

            Great write-up and the pictures had me salivating!

            1. re: Jen Eno
              c
              chris1621 Jul 14, 2007 02:06 PM

              The food looks amazing - I can't wait to go!

              1. re: Jen Eno
                v
                Venice Dino Jul 18, 2007 06:21 PM

                Jennifer good read, well written on your blog!!! Going tonight and can't wait, I love the pizzeria and have been waiting for the Osteria to open for months now. Let you all know tomorrow.

                -DKLA

              2. omotosando Jul 14, 2007 11:16 PM

                Went tonight and absolutely loved it. My favorite dishes were pasta with bolognese sauce (one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had anywhere) and the desserts. We had the bomblini fritters -- mini beignets served w/ raspberry coulis, plus raspberry gelato, mentioned above, and the olive oil gelato- - both amazing.

                Another thing I really loved was that you can order wine by the mini-carafe - about three glasses. We let the waiter choose and had a great red (a chianti I believe) and a wonderful white from Sardonia.

                The service was extremely polished.

                There was a wonderful energy in the room - everyone was just happy and excited to be there, eating wonderful food.

                I loved the way the restaurant looked - it looked modern, but, at the same time, like it had been there forever. All the architectural details were perfect, from the beautiful ceiling in the dining room to the tile in the bathrooms.

                I would say that I would return over and over again, except that I know that getting reservations for next five years at least will be tough!

                P.S. Batali was in the house tonight.

                8 Replies
                1. re: omotosando
                  s
                  Silverlaker Jul 16, 2007 03:54 AM

                  Wonder how it compares with Lupa in NYC -- if anyone's been to both loved to hear. Also, how does it compares with Angelini Osteria (my personal fav Italian rest. in town)?

                  1. re: Silverlaker
                    p
                    PaliBruin Jul 16, 2007 10:18 AM

                    My wife and I went Saturday night. Walked right in with no reservation and the first person we saw was Mario with family having dinner. We said hello and waited at the bar for less than 10 minutes before being were ushered to a table. What a gorgeous room. Service was way over the top because the "man" was there. The meal was hit and miss;
                    Appetizer: Mussels were fantastic with delicous broth to use Nancy's toasted bread to sop up the sumptuos broth...yum yum.
                    Salad: Endive and Fennel salad was ok.
                    Pasta: Orchiette was in a delicous sauce of swiss chard, chili flake, basil and olive oil however I felt the pasta was on the chewy side.
                    Secondi: Grilled Sea Bass (Orlata?) was delicous and simple but a little dry in my book. I prefer my (sea) fish on the rare side. The quail wrapped in pancetta was incredible. The dish of the night.
                    Cheese plate: Went with the soft cheese, all imported from Italy, goat, cows milk and sheeps milk. Absolutely delicous.
                    Dessert: Chocolatto (cake) basic but very tasty.

                    All in all I give the room a 8 the service a 8 the food an 7. It in NO WAY even comes close to Angelini or La Terza here on the west coast or Babbo in NYC, the perfect 10 by my Italian standards. (Have not been to Lupa but have eaten at Babbo 20-30 times).
                    Look forward to going back to give the pastas a second chance.

                    1. re: PaliBruin
                      d
                      diningdivala Jul 16, 2007 02:13 PM

                      Everything we had was delicious, cooked perfectly. I didn't order anything you did, and didn't get to the entrees yet. If anything, we felt a little server fatigue toward the end, but we probably wore him out. And remember, here, you're comparing a restaurant on its first or second night of service to places that have been open for years. If a restaurant is averaging an 8 in your book, on day two, I bet it's probably a 10 in a few months.

                      1. re: PaliBruin
                        d
                        DonnyMac Jul 18, 2007 02:55 PM

                        We ate the same night that you did, and even though it was only the 2nd night of officially being open, I have to say, I felt the food was equal to Angelini and the overall experience because of the nicer and less cramped surroundings was a little better than Angelini. I also felt the food was better than what I have had at Babbo.

                        We had the mussels (delicious) and the red endive and fennel salad (lovely, great lemon/date/anchovy dressing) and split the orrichiette with the sausage, chard, chile and breadcrumbs (one of the top 5 pastas I have had in my life, up there with Angelini's Bombalotti, Delfina's spaghetti with spicy tomato sauce and basil and Sfoglia's spaghetti carbonara). For mains, we got the Tagliata (grilled hangar steak with arugula and shaved parm - unbelievably good), the Lamb Chops (with fregola, not couscous) and the braised short ribs with polent. Only the short ribs were disappointing. We split two desserts, and with a Quartino, 2 cocktails, a bottle of wine, tax and tip, the whole thing was $300 for 3 people.

                      2. re: SauceSupreme
                        Woolsey Jul 22, 2007 05:22 PM

                        Valentino's undergoing renovations, right? I'm sure Signore Selvaggio's not wanting to have the spotlight seized by some upstart carpetbaggers from New York. It's funny how these days no one nominates Campanile, which dominated the scene for so long, for best Italian restaurant...

                        1. re: Woolsey
                          d
                          DonnyMac Jul 25, 2007 09:04 AM

                          That's probably because Campanile isn't doing Italian. It's more appropriately classified, IMHO, as a rustic Italian/Mediterranean inspired Californian restaurant.

                          1. re: Woolsey
                            m
                            murray26 Jul 29, 2007 07:00 PM

                            Campanile an Italian restaurant???? Typical LA philistine. It's a good restaurant but no freakin way it's Italian. What because they have a pasta dish on the menu?

                            1. re: murray26
                              Woolsey Jul 29, 2007 09:50 PM

                              Well, your highness, thanks for the feedback. Too bad you could not do so as courteously as DonnyMac. I'd rather make a display of typical L.A. philistinism than your display of typical L.A. rudeness.

                      3. d
                        Diana Jul 16, 2007 06:28 AM

                        $500 for FOUR?!? At an OSteria?

                        Eek!

                        I'll just keep heading down the street to Caffe Angeli.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Diana
                          wilafur Jul 16, 2007 09:59 AM

                          i'm thinking if you back out the cost of the "couple of good bottles of wine", the pricing would be more in line with most osteria's in LA.

                          1. re: wilafur
                            d
                            Dylan Jul 16, 2007 11:20 AM

                            A lot of it depends how you order. The entrees are 28-29 but you will probably get a side dish as well for $7. The pastas were 18 or so and the other apps were in the low teens. It adds up if you have a full meal (which we did - basically we had 4-5 apps, 2 pastas, 2 mains, 3 sides, 1 cheese, 2 desserts - and didn't feel particularly stuffed), but it's certainly possible to eat for a reasonable price there if you are restrained. The tab at the pizzeria will almost certainly be lower though!

                            1. re: Dylan
                              t
                              themook Jul 18, 2007 09:47 AM

                              does anyone know if any of the items from B&B in las vegas are on the menu? specifically I'm wondering about the mint love letters, cauliflower sfromato and the grilled ribeye for two.

                              1. re: themook
                                a
                                alison Jul 18, 2007 12:00 PM

                                No, I did not see those items on the menu.

                                I love those mint love letters, from babbo too !

                                here's the menu :
                                http://la.eater.com/archives/2007/07/...

                                1. re: alison
                                  r
                                  rickym13 Jul 18, 2007 03:42 PM

                                  any tasting menu there? pasta tasting course?

                                  1. re: rickym13
                                    a
                                    alison Jul 18, 2007 04:29 PM

                                    No, not yet.
                                    I have heard rumors that TM's might happen later, after they've been open for a while.

                                    1. re: alison
                                      l
                                      letthemeatcake Nov 24, 2007 11:07 AM

                                      Pasta tasting menu started this week. 5 courses at $75. I've found the pastas hit or miss on the regular menu, so I'll probably pass at such a high price. I mean, primi cost around $16 each on the menu so $75 for five tastes doesn't make sense to me. This isn't Babbo.

                            2. re: wilafur
                              v
                              Venice Dino Jul 18, 2007 06:27 PM

                              I agree and did you notice how much they ordered!!

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