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Osteria Mozza: a vegetarian's review

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nick_r Sep 10, 2007 11:27 AM

Since I do not have a five-picture deal with Disney, we of course had no reservation. But my girlfriend and I showed up, per my ingenious plan, at 6 PM on the dot on Saturday and managed to snag the last two seats at the bar (the booze bar, not the mozz bar, sadly... but we were happy to get anything -- and let me tell you, by 7:30 there were about 40-50 people hovering around who would have sold their mothers for our seats).

We were attended to by a rotating cast of bartenders, all of whom were incredibly friendly and gave us impeccable service. As crazily busy as the place got, they never lost their cool and never ignored us.

Shortly after being seated, we were presented with a complimentary amuse bouche of mozzarella rolled around pesto and sundried tomato -- kind of like cheese sushi, my gf pointed out. Tasty.

After ordering a glass of wine each (their 250 ml pours with an extra mini-carafe are a nice touch in my book) we got our appetizers: caprese for me, gem lettuce salad with hazelnuts and gorgonzola for her. I hyperbolize not: best caprese of my 29-year life. If Nancy Silverton needs a kidney, I'm first in line. I wanted to drink the leftover olive oil.

Our entrees were definitely on the simple side. I forget their misleadingly exotic names, but mine was essentially spaghetti with tomato sauce and garlic breadcrumbs, and my girlfriend's was spaghetti with browned butter and black pepper. On the plus side, they were both very good, if not mind-blowing. Mario Batali doesn't get a kidney but I'd bring him a DVD or two while he was awaiting a transplant.

If you are us, you do not pass up dessert in a place like this, and we were indeed us so we happily dove in. I had the bittersweet chocolate cake (seemed flourless though it didn't say that) with assorted chocolate-dipped candies; my girlfriend had an almond cornette with gelato. Darkest chocolate dessert I've ever had; it could easily have come straight from the counter at Vosges.

After all this, one of the bartenders asked us if we wanted anything else, and upon seeing our looks of no-we're-too-full protest, he told us he had "just the thing" and poured us two sherry glasses of Amaro, which he said would help settle our stomachs. On the house, of course. That's the kind of little touch that can push a great dinner over the edge into the territory of the sublime, which it definitely did for us. The two little date-nut candies we got to nibble on with the check were also a nice coda.

Next time: Pizzeria or bust!

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  1. d
    Diana RE: nick_r Sep 10, 2007 12:14 PM

    I tried the pizzeria, and found the food good, but overpriced. I gotta try the Osteria when I have the dough.

    How much did you spend?

    12 Replies
    1. re: Diana
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      nick_r RE: Diana Sep 10, 2007 12:23 PM

      Well, to paraphrase the new Cookie Monster, it's definitely a "sometimes restaurant." The bill came to about $140 before tip; we each had a glass of wine, an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert.

      1. re: nick_r
        d
        Diana RE: nick_r Sep 10, 2007 12:37 PM

        EEK!

        1. re: Diana
          Woolsey RE: Diana Sep 10, 2007 02:10 PM

          At first, I thought it was $140 each, which is about what one pays if one does the who three course-and-dessert ordeal. Seventy dollars each is a relative bargain at Osteria Mozza...

      2. re: Diana
        w
        whatsfordinner RE: Diana Sep 10, 2007 02:07 PM

        My husband and I ate at the pizzeria about a week ago and thought the prices were reasonable compared to other Italian restaurants on the westside and the food is so much better than those. We shared: an amazing mussels appetizer (the mussels were roasted in the pizza oven in a bath of olive oil, garlic and parsley and then dabbed with a spicy aioli); a delicious and light appetizer of melon, shrimp, red onion and mint; chicken liver bruschetta; pizza with bitter greens, guanciale and egg; butterscotch budino, and a bottle of wine. It was about $75 before tip. The food was absolutely delicious, and the service was friendly and helpful. I didn't think it was overpriced at all.

        1. re: whatsfordinner
          mollyomormon RE: whatsfordinner Sep 10, 2007 02:22 PM

          I don't find the Pizzeria overpriced, but I think $140 is pricey considering the OP didn't even order entrees, only two pastas from the primi menu. I feel like there should be a little more of a wow factor at that price point, although I think that part of what one's paying for at OM is the ambiance. It's really not like anywhere I've eaten in LA.

          1. re: mollyomormon
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            whatsfordinner RE: mollyomormon Sep 10, 2007 02:38 PM

            I absolutely agree. $140 is a lot for 2 pastas. I was responding to Diana's comment about the pizzeria being overpriced.

            1. re: mollyomormon
              Chowpatty RE: mollyomormon Sep 10, 2007 03:10 PM

              For a bit less, we had two cocktails, a bottle of wine, two appetizers and two pastas -- we were plenty full and I felt $130 was a good value for the quality of the food. However, if we had ordered real meat or fish entrees, it certainly would have been more.

              1. re: Chowpatty
                mollyomormon RE: Chowpatty Sep 10, 2007 03:22 PM

                And one thing to note is that while the pastas are on the small side, they're quite rich and so having a pasta, an a app and a dessert can be filling.

                1. re: mollyomormon
                  n
                  nick_r RE: mollyomormon Sep 10, 2007 03:35 PM

                  OK, time for me to pop back in. It sounds expensive, and it was. But it was also one of the most satisfying meals I've had in a long long time, perhaps ever. Both in terms of how filling it was (which is to say, pretty damned filling) and how enjoyable it was.

                  1. re: nick_r
                    meatlessinla RE: nick_r Sep 12, 2007 05:56 PM

                    Our dinner for two totalled $95 and we were stuffed. I don't consider it inexpensive but we could have ordered less food and at many comperable places, it could have cost a lot more for the amount we had. We ordered:
                    3 mozzarella appetizers
                    2 pastas
                    1 side dish

            2. re: whatsfordinner
              n
              nd33x RE: whatsfordinner Sep 13, 2007 08:41 AM

              I don't understand the constant complaining about the prices (although it is limited to the usual complainers). You get what you pay for here. If you’re out for a typical Friday night dinner, $140 may seem excessive. This is a special occasion place for most and I think $140 is very reasonable for a party of two for a special occasion, especially for the quality of food you are getting. The quality of products they are using in many of the dishes and quality service merit the price.

              1. re: nd33x
                mollyomormon RE: nd33x Sep 13, 2007 10:01 AM

                I don't think I normally complain about prices. I'm more than willing to pay for great food and service. It just bummed me out to pay that much for pasta I thought was not very memorable. Loved the mozarella dishes, however, and would be happy to go back and pay for those and the overall experience.

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