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Osteria Mamma - New Italian in Hollywood

lil mikey May 19, 2010 08:20 AM

They’ve been open about seven months now, and they’re doing brisk business for lunch. Many of the tables are full and it’s no wonder. imho, this is the best place in the area at the moment. This is an Italian restaurant. They speak Italian and expatriate guests come in and are welcomed like family. Mamma’s in the back, Christina is up front, and there are various others serving, busing and checking-in with the diners.

After you order, along with your drinks you are given a basket of toasted Italian bread slices with a cup of slightly spicy tomato sauce for dipping.

The pulpo, or grilled octopus had a thick grilled flavor, but it was by far my least favorite dish. It was served over a salad with potatoes. But it must have been cooked much earlier as it was not hot, and it had a layer of oxidation. The various textures of the dish were interesting, but the octopus itself was not as fresh as I was expecting.

Far better, and worthy of many return visits, was the pasta. It’s very fresh and handmade. The tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce was piping hot, with noodles that had that scrumptious fresh texture. The Bolognese combined the creamy meat and tomato sauce perfectly. While a little salty, this dish is a winner.

Also a winner is the quatro stagioni pizza. The crust is obviously fresh, thin but not cracker thin. It’s divided into four quadrants: chunks of ham, sliced black olives, artichoke hearts and mushrooms. This is a great pizza to share between 2 people as you get 2 slices of each topping. And it’s pretty big for one person to finish.

Let me just say that the mushrooms on this pizza were game changing. They aren’t the sliced button mushrooms you find on other pizzas. These were dark and quartered instead of sliced. And they had a deep, rich mushroom flavor. I don’t know how they did it, maybe they sauté them beforehand, but this was like eating a side dish of mushrooms…but on a pizza.

The artichoke heart and olive sections of the pizza were better than many other pizzas with these toppings, but were really nothing special: basic out-of-the-can toppings.

The ham section, however, was interesting in that the ham and cheese combination tasted like a croque monsieur. The cheese had become creamy, and melded beautifully with the saltiness of the ham. This was a real treat.

It’s the same menu for lunch and dinner, except you can get paninis for lunch. And the pricing is decidedly dinner-level. The pizza for example was $14. It’s not completely unreasonable, but for lunch it’s at the higher end of the scale. However for this high quality, for me it’s worth it.

Osteria Mamma
5732 Melrose (between Vine and Gower)
(323) 284-7060

  1. b
    baloney May 19, 2010 08:45 AM

    lil mikey, you beat me to it. I've been to Osteria Mamma twice in the last two weeks and I'm a bit worried about my waist line if this trend continues.

    I'm so excited to have the old La Buca concept back! Everything tastes exactly the same as it was prior to their expansion. The gnocchi is unbelievable(my favorite is with the vodka sauce), their pasta's are great, and the pizza thin and just crisp enough, delicious. And it's so much roomier than La Buca 1.0 but still has the same cozy feel to it.

    La Buca
    5210 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

    1 Reply
    1. re: baloney
      Dommy May 19, 2010 10:03 AM

      Yes!! The Gnocchi is back! :D


    2. a
      archer May 19, 2010 11:26 AM

      Do they have their wine license yet? Last time I checked, they were working on it & we couldn't bring in our own wine because someone reported them to ABC (see their website).

      2 Replies
      1. re: archer
        john gonzales May 19, 2010 12:10 PM

        I really liked the food at the initial spot, but the corkage-friendliness was just as big a factor in drawing us from the westside. The glitz and high corkage at the "new" La Buca killed it for me. Any idea on the corkage fee/policy at Mamma?

        La Buca
        5210 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

        1. re: john gonzales
          silverlakebodhisattva May 19, 2010 01:02 PM

          As archer noted above, they were flying "under the radar" with BYOB; now someone (likely a competitor) ratted 'em out, so as of last week, they're waiting for license approval...

      2. s
        silverlakebodhisattva May 19, 2010 11:35 AM

        Still seem to be knockin' the glitches out of service, as of a week ago.

        We decided that we'd go over there (we hadn't been there since the opening) for a fairly early weekday night; called over (at about 5:50) asked if they could get us (2) in at 6:30 and were told that they couldn't take such a reservation; we got there at 6:40 (I figured I'd try) and 2/3 of the tables were unoccupied, and we were seated immediately. By the time we LEFT, 50 minutes later, things were pretty full, but they took additional walk-ins during that time.
        Kitchen and service timing seemed confused as well; I'm not sure that the expansion was an un-mixed blessing for them.

        1. f
          foodiemahoodie May 20, 2010 04:58 AM

          I do not get this place. At all. Besides homemade pasta I see nothing remotely special about this place. I can think of a few dozen better Italian restaurants. I know it is has it's fans, but it says something to be me to be more about feeling you've discovered a place and want to make that discovery into something special, making you special. Weird. Sorry fans, but anyone who takes food seriously really shouldn't bother. There are a half a dozen Italian restaurants on (one off) San Vicente in Brentwood - all vastly superior to Osteria Mamma. But okay, that's not in the same neighborhood. But Osteria Mozza is a few minutes away. So is Angelini's. And those are better than those vastly superior restaurants on San Vicente. (excluding Vicente which is in the same ballpark).

          Osteria Mozza
          6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

          1 Reply
          1. re: foodiemahoodie
            fbchase Jun 3, 2010 02:34 PM

            Any word on the wine situation? I haven't been since they had to give up BYOB.

            I lived in Italy, learned to cook in Italy, and I come from a big Italian family. The food at La Mama is comparable to some of the best informal restaurants I found in Italy. It isn't Mozza, but it's not trying to be a fine-dining experience. It's a neighborhood trattoria.

          2. p
            Papuli Aug 12, 2010 04:03 PM

            I'm going tonight...any new updates? Must-try dishes? Or, I suppose, must-avoids. The OP didn't like the octopus salad, but it seems to get raves now.


            10 Replies
            1. re: Papuli
              baloney Aug 12, 2010 05:53 PM

              Just get the gnocchi with any sauce, you can thank me later. :p I think their strengths are more the mains(pastas, etc.) than their apps, but their calamari's not bad and the eggplant parm app I had a few weeks ago was alright as well.

              1. re: baloney
                Papuli Aug 13, 2010 10:53 AM

                THANK YOU! :)

                I had the gnocchi with the fumo sauce (pink sauce with bacon and cheese) and oh lordy, it was fantastic. That might be the best gnocchi I've had - I loved how obviously homemade it was, all imperfectly shaped.

                The torta della nonna was lovely too. The rest was fine, nothing too exciting. I'd go back for a gnocchi bacchanal.


                1. re: Papuli
                  Dommy Aug 13, 2010 01:50 PM

                  Thanks for the report back!! I can't wait to try them again more than ever! :DD


                  1. re: Dommy
                    baloney Aug 13, 2010 04:14 PM

                    Dommy, how have you been able to resist the power of the gnocchi thus far?? Seriously, you must get there ASAP! I've been trying to stop myself from going there every other week, with moderate success.

                    1. re: baloney
                      Dommy Aug 13, 2010 04:26 PM

                      LOL! I know... I know... sadly I have been somewhat occupied lately seeking out other sorts of goodness including Mozzarella...


                      Will be back soon though....

                  2. re: Papuli
                    hnsbmg Aug 13, 2010 02:38 PM

                    Are the gnocchi made from potatoes and ordinary wheat flour (i.e., no ricotta or semolina)? Are they light and airy or quite firm?

                    1. re: hnsbmg
                      Dommy Aug 13, 2010 02:42 PM

                      They are potato. They are light, but with a bite. NOT firm or gummy.... they stand up the sauce WONDERFULLY....


                      1. re: Dommy
                        hnsbmg Aug 13, 2010 02:44 PM

                        Now THIS I have to try ... good gnocchi is so hard to find. Thanks, Dommy!

                        1. re: hnsbmg
                          Dommy Aug 13, 2010 02:48 PM

                          Serious, I am a complete Gnocchi SNOB... and only bow down to Mama! ;D


                          1. re: Dommy
                            Wolfgang Oct 22, 2010 10:38 AM

                            I recently visited Osteria Mamma because of the reviews and the proximity. We wanted pasta for dinner so we narrowed it down to Angelini, Mozza, La Buca and Mamma. I've been to the first two and like them but wanted to try this place. What a waste of a night. It's experiences like these that make me want to never eat out again. I leave feeling like I was had. Had by the reviewers that somehow find something redeeming about this place and had by the restaurant that puts out such mediocre food in such a dour, depressing space. First the bread. We should've cancelled our orders and left after the bread came out. It's no wonder (no pun intended) they bring the bread out after you order. It's barely a step up from Wonder bread. The soups and salads were okay. The pastas, a special of spaghetti and meatballs and the tagliatelle bolognese were just blah. The meatballs were about the size of a macadamia nut. The bolognese tasted like bolognese light. There was no long simmered decadent richness to it. I even found the homemade noodles to be lacking. They did little to absorb the sauce and become one.
                            The specials did not have prices next to them on the chalkboard. The spaghetti and meatballs were $17.25 each, not exactly commensurate with the space, service, or quality of the dish.
                            Experiences like these, along with a new house, keep me happily eating at home. I make pasta from Mario's cookbook or other recipes and they are so much better that what we wasted our money on at Osteria Mamma. I don't have the bank account to give restaurants multiple tries. And besides, it's one thing to overcook or undercook something or be slammed. This wasn't the case.

                            La Buca
                            5210 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                            Osteria Mamma
                            5730 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

              2. mstinawu Apr 11, 2011 01:18 PM

                Boyfriend and I went to Osteria Mamma over the weekend. We ordered a salad, burrata and pancetta on crisonti, raviolis and gnocchi. I wanted to go here since I had read about how wonderful their gnocchi was and.. it was! Fluffy and absolutely wonderful! The burrata was my 2nd favorite, but really, how can anyone mess that up? Overall, good experience at Osteria Mamma.. Even driving in from the Westside. Oh and agreed about the bread, it's like crusty wonder bread. Sad. Best free restaurant bread has to go to Alejo's--I simply have not met a bread from an Italian restaurant that could compare. I'm not really a fan of the food, but the bread. Oh so wonderful........... Wish they sold it w/o having to eat there. OK, off on a tangent..

                Osteria Mamma
                5730 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

                1 Reply
                1. re: mstinawu
                  perk Apr 11, 2011 06:46 PM

                  If you like burrata, and live on the Westside, give Obika a try. They fly theirs in from Italy. There is one at the Century City mall....and I think there is also one at the Beverly Center.

                  10250 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90067

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