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Jul 23, 2007 05:31 PM

Osteria Mozza Party of 7

I need some advice and/or suggestions from Chowhounders. I called and got a reservation at Osteria Mozza for mid-August. I tried to book a table for 8 people for a birthday celebration, but was told that the maximum was 6 people. So I've managed to whittle the numbers down to 7. My friend called separately to see if they can make amends for 8, even going so far as to dividing the group into two tables seated close together. She was told "no."

I don't think I'm alone here when it comes to booking anything at Mozza, be it the Pizzeria or the Osteria. We're all frequent diners and I just don't see how they can continue to have this policy at the Osteria. I can understand it at the Pizzeria, but with the price points at the Osteria, it just seems a tad bit rigid and not forward-thinking.

Can anyone offer any advice as to what I can do?

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  1. My advice...GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. This rigid thinking is part of the incredible arrogance of the current crop of overpriced, self important restaurants that has disregarded customer service...knowing that with the right 'buzz'...we will still patronize them. Los Angeles is a big city with lots of great restaurants...probably some undiscovered and without the baggage that Mario "TV star" and Nancy "Bread maker to the stars" Silverton bring to the table. You'll probably save some money. What do you remember from most parties..where you ate...or who you spent the time with that special night. Go somewhere else that WANTS your business. I'm sure some other lemmings will take your place at Osteria Mozza.

    18 Replies
    1. re: Steve860

      Wow, it must be nice to make the assertion that Mozza is arrogant and self important without personally knowing any of the management or owners. What you may not have thought of is that the restaurant is in its second week and perhaps an 8 top in the middle of service might affect the quality of food.

      Lemmings? I enjoyed the food I ate there, as has everyone I've known who's eaten there so far, and I consider all of us very knowledgeable, well travelled, and cultured in regards to food. The waitstaff and management have all shown great appreciation and gratitude to my dining there, so I don't think you could make the statement that they don't want anyone's business.

      1. re: Steve860

        I'm with Stever, really.

        The percieve arrogance is the policies and prices.

        I wish I could go more often. Not that they or anyone carfes, but the Mozzi are both priced out of my market. I have found food just as good elsewhere for less.

        I think the mark up is the hype and ego.

        Then again, the food is good. If you can afford to spend more for the hype, than feel free to do so. ther's nothing wrong with it, really, as a person puts their own value on entertainment and dining.

        But places like Mozza, Other Mozza, Geisha House, Yamashiro and such just aren't part of what _I_ like. I'm just not able or willing to foot the extra dough for celebrity dough and hype.

        1. re: Diana

          Actually, the plural would be "Mozze."

          And while I can understand your feeling that Mozza is overpriced and overhyped, I think you have to admit it's in another class entirely from Geisha House and Yamashiro, whose culinary merits barely rise above Kabuki. While Mozza derived its initial fame from celebrity chefs, Geisha House got notice from a celebrity investor, while Yamashiro is just known for its themed building and view. Come on. Lumping the two Mozze in with them is just plain... nasty, one step short of calling it "Fancy Nancy's Olive Garden."

          1. re: Woolsey

            Thanks for the Italian grammar lesson! I was originally going to call it the "Mozzapod" but figured I would get some sort of correction from someone who didn't get I was being punny. I mean, pod really means "foot" and has nothing to do with number, but I was imagining the Batali empire spreading it's money grabbing tenticles acrooss LA. And each one would be wearing an orange clog.

            I agree the food at the Mozza Wonder Twins of food is far above Gisha House and Yamashiro (c'mon, that's not hard to do!) I guess I was just focusing on the hype bringing diners aspect.

            For me, personally, in my opinion, the food served when the Wonder Twin powers activate is not worht my hard earned extra dollar. Like I said, I have found food _I_ like for less elsewhere. Just less hype. So for me, the extra $$ is for the hype. That's for me, mind you. Now, I just can't justify paying for hype.

            Now Olive Garden is a scary place. The food is icky, and they are too into the all you can eat thing. Bad food and lots of it. But then again, it's popular, too. Very popular. And cheap.

            But I think comapring Yamashiro and Giesha house to Olive Garden isn't fair eaither. Their food is sort of midway between Olive Garden and the Duo of Mozzaness.

            1. re: Diana

              Hey, I feel your pain whenever the check hits at Mozza. And really, I wanted to hate it. I wanted to be able to loathe it. I don't go out for Italian food. For years, the only Italian food I went out for were two dinners at Valentino that I didn't pay for. (And they were good, I must say.) And yes, the way the hype clings to the place is astonishing.

              But Geisha House? Ouch. OUCH!

              There are some restaurants that do open with hype from their celebrity chefs - Craft is another current example - although Mozza is doing so with more orange clogs than usual. I'd say the Mozza phenomenon is 70% A.O.C., 30% Dolce.

              1. re: Diana

                money grabbing tentacles? This thread is really depressing to me. Fine, screw Mario, screw Nancy, how about we get another nice, consistent, Cheesecake Factory right there at Melrose and Highland instead of those money grubbing arrogant jerks? Jesus...

                A restaurant needs to charge a 4-fold markup on food to make a profit. I've seen the prices, and I guarantee you I could go down the list item by item on the Mozza menu and every item would be about that much. It's a lot, I know, but if you're finding "similar" food elsewhere then I guarantee it's coming from a lesser source. They use Sonoma lamb at Mozza, not New Zealand. It's fattier. It tastes better. It's several bucks per pound more expensive. Honestly, I could cook just as well at home, which is the real point here. If you don't want to fork over a 4-fold markup to go out then I completely understand that, I find myself in the same boat often. But get your facts straight before you start making personal assessments of business owners as "arrogant" and promoting a culture of hype. These people are working 14 hour days to maintain an institution where people can find comfort in good food, wine, and atmosphere.

                Or, if you'd like to live in the alternate universe where people like Mario, Nancy, and Lydia Bastianich didn't bring us out of the dark ages of Italian food, be my guest.

                1. re: fooddude37

                  Now, I'm not talking about money grabbing..more about multiple arms of a chef's empire. You mis read my symbolism, there.

                  In fact, I'm fine with them charging whatever they want. I just don't go there.

                  Also, I think there are others who have brought us out of the "fake american italian" dark ages, Waaaaaaaaaayyyyy before batali or nancy. Way before.

                  My whole point is that these places have some sort of place, and people like them. I like th food, but I just don't agree, and will not pay, the prices.

                  That is me, not you, or some other person, or that guy over there.

                  I'm just trying to explain my point of view. I don't think an "Osteria" should be that expensive, nor a pizzeria. They aren't in Italy! I made the personal choice to not go there.

                  After all, Mozza squared are only TWO places out of the HUUUUGGGE los angeles pantheon of dining stars.

                  I wouldn't consider them near the top in the city, even.

                  But I respect the talent of the chefs. They truly do create good food above and beyond many.

                  Still, pricing it beyond those who really need to be exposed to it is a shame.

                  1. re: Diana

                    if you have not yet dined at OSTERIA MOZZA yet, which is what i'm gathering from your posts, i'm not sure how you cannot consider it one of the top in the city. rather dangerous and assumptive remark.

                    1. re: revets2

                      I wish I could afford to rty. I'm sure the food is delicious. I'm only concerned about the prices right now. I can't afford to try it, and would rather save up for something else.

                      But it's true. I can't pass judgement on the FOOD untill I try it. The prices, I can say stuff about.

                      Pizzaria Mozza is NOT one of the top places in the city.

                      Maybe someone will take me to the OSteria one day, if they want to go through the hassle of the reservation process. Since I am the only chowhound in my family and circle of friends, I think I'll have a long wait...

                    2. re: Diana

                      For the record, I didn't mean to direct my entire diatribe toward you ;p I just wanted to reply about the money grubbing tentacles comment and go from there...

                      There have always been key players in awakening food consciousness in American dining culture, and I didn't mean to imply that it was only Nancy, Mario, and Lydia. But they are certainly important.

                    3. re: fooddude37

                      I'm with fooddude. Mario and Lydia were definitely key in bringing us out the dark ages of american italian food. Mario popularized dishes such as lambs tongue salad, stewed tripe, pig food milanese, calf's brain ravioli, and pasta that is al dente and lightly sauced. I'm not suggesting they invented these dishes, just that these dishes were less common when their respective restaurants first opened. For the poster that mentioned "other chefs" responsible for said trend, I'd be interested in hearing examples.

                      LA certainly could use more excellent italian options and excellent pizza. Key word being options. Mozza isn't the end all of italian food in LA but it's nice to have that option. $10-15 for a fine pizza and $8 for appetizers isn't exactly absurd. For the osteria, the pastas are under $20 and many of the entrees under $30. The prices are much less than Spago and on par with Angelini Osteria. Campanile's entrees are even pricier. The high price tags you're reading about is because people are sampling everything, getting 2 bottles of wine or 4 quartinos. That's easily another $100-$200 to your tab. Batali and Bastianich didn't storm in charging more than anyone else. It's on par with other restaurants in the area.

                      It's easy to bash Batali and may even Silverton because they're "celebrity" chefs but honestly, the food is good, and they don't mark it up as much as other celebrity chefs. We're not talking Bobby Flay here. I'd prefer the expansion of the Batali empire over another Olive Garden any day. If you can find a better $14 dollar pizza else where, then we need to know about it. I tell you though, those pizzas with the spicy salumi are hard to beat.

                      And it's about time we got decent orecchiette on the west coast. And hopefully it'll be a simple matter of time before we see gnocchi alla romana on that menu.

                      1. re: Porthos

                        The prices for Mozza's pizzas aren't bad at all. People pay the same prices for the wretched little pies at California Pizza Kitchen.

                        1. re: Woolsey

                          I'm with you on that! I find Mozza very reasonably priced, especially considering the quality of the ingredients.

                  2. re: Woolsey

                    Here's another thing about Nancy Silverton: I have eaten at Pizzaria Mozza now three times -- loved it each time -- and each of the three times I was there, Ms. Silverton was working her tail off behind the food prep bar (a wonderful place to sit when at Pizzeria Mozza). It can't be easy to be a 'celebrity chef' and then work in full view of the entire restaurant for hours at a stretch, everyone watching you. And it is not easy work. She clearly is investing all of herself in both these restaurants; in no way is she some diva interested in hype. One might not like the food she creates, but it is obvious she is passionate about both restaurants and is trying to create a wonderful place for people to visit and enjoy.

                    1. re: Tom P

                      I agree, Silverton at least works super duper hard to earn her rep. I love her bread and pizzas. She has a passion for good food and work ehtic that ensures her success.

                      I can buy La Brea bread at Ralph's Gelson's and more for a great price.

                      1. re: Diana

                        She's there behind the Mozzarella Bar at the Osteria now, too. Of course, I doubt she'll remain there forever, but she's putting a lot of care and work into getting the operation running, just as all the time as guest chef at La Terza and Jar apparently were time spent researching this operation. That's what's really impressive to me: that Silverton did such extensive research and experimentation, years' worth, when many chefs of her stripes could just photocopy another success they've had under a different name and design scheme for a quick buck.

                    2. re: Woolsey

                      yes, the plural of "mozza" would be "mozze" if it was a noun, but mozzare is the verb "to truncate" with "mozza" being a first person conjugation. that being said, i think "mozza" is being used as slang or cute adjective of the famous cheese. italian is not my first language, it's more like my third, so one more steeped in italian grammar may want to chime in here.

                      did i just see someone compare PIZZERIA MOZZA and OSTERIA MOZZA to GEISHA HOUSE and YAMASHIRO? i like this board, but must say this is colorful, but irritating.

                      i think both these restaurants provide QPR for food quality, prep, execution, and service. it may not be affordable to everyone, but would i want PIZZERIA MOZZA y OSTERIA MOZZA to purvey lesser ingredients, hire less professional staff, not make a lesser living so everyone could afford to eat there all the time? no. i'd rather save and save so i could eat the fruits of nancy silverton's hard work, dedication and passion.

                2. As much as anything, it has to do quite often with no-shows, meaning all of a sudden you have an empty table for 8 and that might represent 10% of your seats for that probably prime time period. Maybe you will have people waiting at the bar and can fill those seats, maybe not.
                  Secondly, allowing more different groups of people in allows for more hype from more different social circles.
                  Take your pick, and add probably many more. And using a credit card is not the answer, just provides more issues most of the time.

                  1. Perhaps the policy will change once the restaurant is truly up on its feet. I know from years of waiting tables that a large party can shut even the strongest of kitchens down. (The popular restaurant where I worked often tried to avoid parties larger than 8 on weekend nights in particular.) Perhaps Osteria Mozza is trying to avoid needless chaos in the kitchen until they have everything running smoothly, which takes a few months to do even at the best of new restaurants.

                    1. is very common and wise for a new restaurant not to accommodate such large parties. you might call and ask if they are booking their private room yet. you might also inquire if the jack warner room at the pizzeria is available and eat there. i understand your frustration. i have a big family and it's not always possible for all of us to go unless we book the private rooms (which we do). but it's really unrealistic to ask a restaurant to sacrifice the operation on a newer open to take eight.

                      for those of you who believe it's about poor customer service, in defense of MOZZA, i booked a table close to the open of the pizzeria for six. a couple with two todds and an infant who previously declined decided they wanted to come. we decided to accommodate them by letting them sit at the table and we would try to eat at the bar (it's not unusual for us to eat at a restaurant and have more than one member of our family eating at another table with another party). family night had become date night. we went early, put our name in for the bar (45 min.), and let the hostess know our family would sit at the table and we would sit at the bar. they graciously accommodated all of us at the table (and, boy it was tight!). eight adults, two todds on the laps. we'll never do that again, but still, they were very, very kind about it. it will keep us going back for years.

                      1. I think this is because...

                        1. their largest tables accommodate just six people,
                        2. with such demand, a cancellation for eight would leave a big hole on a high-demand schedule,
                        3. the configuration inside (relatively few tables compared to bar space) does not afford much room for a party of eight.

                        Pizzeria Mozza has a party room with a long table that holds up to fourteen diners, while Osteria Mozza has a party room with a separate entrance that can accommodate up to forty diners. Perhaps booking the Pizzeria's party room for eight is the best option.

                        I have also noticed that they like to stagger seating at the Osteria so as to allow the kitchen time to prepare the food for each table as a sort of quality control measure. If they bend the rules for one table, suddenly Osteria Mozza could become Birthday Party Central, and I don't think huge tables of people with balloons and presents and waiters' singing "Happy Birthday" are really what Osteria Mozza is about anyway. (Not to say that would be YOUR party, but you know...)

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Woolsey

                          In comparison though, Angelini Osteria, which is a small space w/ also very carefully prepared food, has no problem pushing tables together to graciously accommodate larger parties. I've seen large groups of at least 12 there. Osteria Mozza is in fact much more spacious and really should have no problem w/ this request. 8 is not a very large number (two families of four for example should be able to eat together). Hopefully, they will change their policy in the future. I would recommend going elsewhere. If you're set on fine Italian, go to Angelini or La Terza, in the same area & able easily to accommodate your party.

                          1. re: archer

                            Mozza only has a few tables for four, then a few tables for two, then those large party tables for six. A good deal of its seating is actually bar seating.

                            But I think not wanting to have large parties like this in the main room is the real reason, both not to put pressure of having so many orders at once on the kitchen staff - other posters have noted how they will stagger seating diners across a night, and I saw it in action Saturday night - and just to maintain a certain ambiance. That's why they established the separate party room.

                            1. re: archer

                              Angelini has been open for years; it's not a fair comparison to a restaurant that's been open for only two weeks.

                              I don't think it's uncommon for restaurants to eschew larger parties, especially when they know they can fill up those seats with smaller groups. I've frequently had trouble booking a table for 8 -- last time I tried (restaurants were Nook Bistro and Rustic Canyon), to even get a table I had to book at 5:45 p.m. or after 9 p.m.