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Aug 27, 2010 11:47 PM

Mangiare In Famiglia

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, while clutching my somewhat distended belly, I wondered -- who the hell do I think I am? Who in their right mind eats five courses of pork in one sitting?

No one with an ounce of sense would do something so gluttonous and potentially dangerous!

Unless you're a true foodie, a fan of eating nose to tail, or a devout member of the cult of Nancy Silverton.




If you've checked all three, pick up the phone and call 323-297-1133 to reach Mozza2Go and the Scuola Di Pizza. You'll want to reserve a spot on a Friday or Saturday night or Sunday at lunchtime for Mangiare In Famiglia.

This festive family-style dining experience is one of the most exciting meals I've had in Los Angeles in a long time. Silverton takes the notion of nose to tail cooking and spins it, asking her diners to eat it all in one sitting.

Fridays are a Feast of Five Feathers, featuring duck, quail, pheasant, guinea hen, and chicken. If you've been reading along, you know that was not in the cards for me, because A. won't touch our feathered friends -- none of them.

Good news! Saturdays are Pork, and they feature some of the very best pigs around, Heritage USA Berkshire pigs. We partook heartily.

But not to worry, if you don't roll with the swine. Sunday lunch features beef in the style of Tuscany. From what the marvelous chef and charcuterie master, Chad Colby told me, diners on Sunday would be lunching on tartar, bone marrow, braised oxtails, short ribs, and four-pound porterhouses.

I saw the meat myself, and folks, it looked like the most exquisite heart attack waiting to happen.

But we ate pig. Happily.

The whole affair takes place in the Scuola di Pizza that is tucked in between Mozza2Go and Osteria Mozza. The room is large and the ceilings high. There is a large rectangular table running the length of the room that cozily fits twenty-two. Behind that the open kitchen runs the length of the back of the room.

Oh, to cook in a space like that! The impossibly high BTUs stove top! The grill! The gorgeous marble counter tops! And most of all the wood burning pizza oven!

The festivities began at 7:30 with a hearty welcome from the affable Mozza staff, a glass of Prosecco, and the suggestion to mingle with the other guests.

Make yourself comfortable. Take any seat you like.

A wedge of absolutely unreal onion focaccia followed directly. Being offered food and drink immediately upon arrival is the mark of a good host or hostess. Clearly, Nancy Silverton knows how to entertain.

I must dwell on the focaccia for just another moment. The crisp crack of the crust followed by its glorious chewiness was brilliant. The sweet onions and slight olive oiliness leave you embarrassingly grasping for words like heavenly and perfection.

Damn you, Silverton!

The anticipation was overwhelming. We all knew we were in for something remarkably unique. Nancy Silverton and Chad Colby, the man splendidly running the show while Silverton saw to Osteria Mozza, spoke with us enthusiastically about what was in store.

No one could have guessed at the generosity of the first course.

The Salumi e Paté Nostrano course was outrageous -- easily a whole meal of charcuterie in itself. Included were such gems as salame and Parmigiano-Reggiano, slightly funky (in a great way!) liver paté wrapped in caul fat with spicy mustard, ham with horseradish, and a beautiful vegetal head cheese. All perfect with the grilled bread served alongside.

But these crazy people didn't stop there. We were offered boards of coppa, bowls of pickled green and yellow beans and shallots, and marinated summer squash with garlic, all to be passed around.

The ciccioli was what Colby referred to as pork butter. Ridiculous! All the softness of butter and fat were present, but with the flavor of pure pig. It is very similar to the French rillettes, just a whole lot smoother.

And were those fried pieces of bread?!? A lesson in decadence.

The thing is though, that you absolutely do no want more than a little bit of any of this. A modest taste of each is all we had, but I swear we were already filling up.

With four more courses of pork to go!

The Mozza folks are skilled at pacing, giving us just the right amount of time to recover without letting us get anxious about when the next installment would arrive.

The second course was Salsiccia Fresca. The fresh sausage was served with grilled broccolini. Very smart to serve the plump, fatty sausages with the contrasting charred and slightly bitter broccolini. Not only did the broccolini provided a bit of relief, it knocked our socks off. Our entire end of the table was a-buzz about recreating it at home.

That is not to say that the sausages were anything but delicious. Their juiciness burst in your mouth, making you so sorry that you couldn't eat more.

The smart folks held back.

There were actually two sausages offered -- the regular and then my favorite -- the sausage with liver. One bite of the livery sausage sent me right back to my childhood. It must have been a memory of eating liverwurst. Fantastic!

Up next, something light -- Soffiata Di Parmigiano-Reggiano with Ragù di maiale.

Ahem, maybe not so much. That's Parmigiano-Reggiano soufflé with pork ragu, to you!

This course was sublime. Soft, warm, luscious. Everything you'd want to warm you on a chilly autumn evening, but yet absolutely desirable in the middle of summer.

It took an assembly line of men to plate this course. Slicing into these lofty soufflés required absolute focus. A light hand with the ladle was necessary for the saucing. And a quick flick of the wrist scattered the Parmigiano-Reggiano over all.

The course that followed was the epitome of how I like to eat. The Arrostito Spalla Di Maiale was an absurdly beautiful roast shoulder of pork served with a chicory salad. Rich roast meat with a bracing salad is the stuff of deep longing.

Oh, pork shoulder! I adore you!

The shoulder is a fatty cut of meat that yields the most succulent results. This was no exception -- salty, unctuous and divine.

Just look at that roast!

The bite of the emerald salsa verde was an exceptional counterpoint to the sweet pork. I liked that this particular salsa verde was very heavy on the parsley. The flavor provided a clean green lift to the swine.

Our final pork course was Costelleto Di Maiale with cippolini al forno. As you might expect, this was not your run of the mill pork chop with roasted onions. Not by a long shot.

Please notice the girth of these chops.

They sat perched upon their porcine post gloating at us throughout the meal, waiting for the finishing fire before joining the sticky sweet alliums on our plate -- the pig's final hurrah!

Chef Colby was kind enough to let us know that of the entire pig his favorite bit was the fat near the bone on these chops. That announcement sparked a spontaneous group gnaw on the bones-o.

A nibble then pass to the right!

No doubt about it. This is family dining!

The chops were liberally dusted with fennel pollen. I bought a tin of this powdered gold, when I first purchased Silverton's A Twist of the Wrist. The pollen has an earthy flavor that comes close to capturing the essence of wild fennel. Perfect with the moist meat.

Exhausted and full as never before, I didn't think I would have the stomach to try the Gelati E Sorbetti, let alone the coconut almond biscotti. But a funny thing happens when you've been gorging on such culinary mastery.

You can't help yourself.

You dive head first into the vat of plum, greek yogurt, and fruit of the woods gelato and sorbet. And the plum! Oh, my. It smacks you in the face with a plum flavor that is almost more pure than biting into the most luscious Santa Rosa.

This epic experience costs $75 a person without wine. There are five wines to choose from running from $48 - $85. Or you may select one of three beers on the menu, all priced at $7.

You will likely have spent a fair amount of money once you're through at the Scuola, but in the end this feels like the best deal in town. And although it took us until Monday to fully recover, I cannot recommend Mangiare In Famiglia enough.

Jacqueline F.
Posted with LOTS of photos:

641 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

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  1. Excellent report and photos! Now you have to try the beef dinners...

    Here are prior posts about Mangiare In Famiglia.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Porthos

      Oh my goodness! I want to try beef and tomato in a BIG way! Nice review by the way. :)

    2. Great pictures on your blog. This was clearly a sixteen exclamation point meal.

      1. Sounds like an amazing experience. One not to be missed. I think trying each of the different proteins seems like the best plan... just not all in the same week. Can't wait to experience the overindulgence for myself.

        1. OMG - sounds amazing!!! I CANNOT wait to check it out - hopefully next month. I picked up 2 pizza's from Mozza2Go on Friday and they were setting up the looks like so much fun and, of course, amazing food.

          10 Replies
          1. re: Obessed

            I went to the pig dinner a month ago and although Nancy Silverton was not in attendance, the food was as good as described. And there was so much that you felt like a vomitorium would have been appropriate.

            I did have two quibbles/complaints. FIrst, the insistance on providing only one plate for the entire dinner really diminished the food experience for me (and others at our table), particularly after the souffle was consumed. Part of my plate was just a sloppy mess and their excuse of "It's casual, family style just didn't cut it." And second, that same excuse was used when we asked for wine glasses as opposed to the basic tumblers they provided for wine. The three of us brought some pretty valuable wines (an SQN long aged syrah, a Lillian long aged syrah and a Mordoree luxury cuvee Chateauneuf) and anything less than at least pedestrian wine glasses seems unacceptable to me when you are getting charged $20/bottle corkage. Next time, I bring my own glasses and maybe a roll of paper towels to adequately clean my plate off.

            Those complaiints aside, it is a truly special event and superbly executed from a food standpoint.

            1. re: wpage

              I've got no solution to the 1 plate problem. Especially with the souffle course.

              For the wine problem, drink your prosecco, rinse with water and use that for your red. With these dinners, you have to bring your own wine since the selection offered is so poor.

              Though I love these dinners, I will call out Nancy on the wine glasses though. During the beef lunch when her family was there, her family did get premium wine glasses for their wine. However, everyone did eat off of 1 plate.

              I'm willing to live with these very minor inconveniences for what is a delicious meal, an unforgettable experience. and a truly genius concept.

              1. re: Porthos

                Porthos, we did use the prosecco glasses at first, although they are really too small for high quality red wine (although far better than the tumblers). Ultimately, we got a friendly busboy to get us better glasses. It is just unfortunate that they took a penny-wise, pound-foolish attitude toward these minor items. There were people at our table who indicated that they would never return because of the attitude taken with regard to the one plate issue. For me and my buddies, the food was too good and the event too special to not attempt to work around the issues, but IMO it makes no sense to peeve customers off when the solutions (a clean plate, decent wine glasses that were available in the room in any case) are easily executed with virtually no incremental cost to the restaurant. After all, at Dario Cecchini's Solociccia, which is bound to be the inspiration for the Mozza events (the beef event is almost identical to Solociccia), every course came with clean plates, there were high quality wine glasses, BYOB was free and Italian military digestifs were included for a lower tariff.

                1. re: wpage

                  I understand your sentiment. Believe me, I would rather be drinking my burgundy, bordeaux, and CDP out of proper wine glasses. However, I don't think it's a deal breaker. Not for this quality and this amount of food at these prices.

                  I'm not in the restaurant business but I disagree that it's "virtually no incremental cost". Each event seats about 18-20. With 5 courses that 20 plates vs 100 plates for the meal. Using premium wine glasses means things are going to get broken and each broken premium wine glass is about $20-$40 or so. Things like that have to be passed on to the consumer.

                  Having said that, if they are going to charge corkage, they should be providing wine glasses.

                  As for Dario Cecchini's Solociccia you can't really compare an operation in Italy to an operation in Hollywood. But please e-mail me the best way to get there from Florence as I will be in Florence in October!

                  1. re: Porthos

                    I agree that wine glasses are additional costs and that is why I never complain about corkage charges at restaurants (well, at least when they are within the realm of reasonability), but as you noted, they were charging $20/bottle corkage and that should buy you decent glasses, which doesn't mean $20-$40 Riedels (there are plenty of adequate for the task glasses in the $10-$15 retail range including titanium Schotts). And if Mozza gave the option of 1 plate for $75 or different plates for $80, I would happily pay the premium. Or just charge everyone $80 and give us clean plates.

                    And don't get me wrong--I loved it and will happily attend again, even with the issues, but next time I will be prepared with my own glasses.

                  2. re: wpage

                    Italian *military* digestifs ?
                    Can you please explain?

                    1. re: wpage

                      So are you putting the Mozza family dinner above Solociccia, despite the one plate and lack of nice stems, given your recent post which said:

                      "I know that this may be blasphemy, I was disappointed with Solociccia. It is probably still worth going to, but don't get super high expectations, as it was good but not otherworldly at least on the night that we were there."

                      1. re: Servorg

                        I can only speak to the Mozza pork dinner, but from a quality of the food, yes, I would definitely put Mozza above Solociccia, at least on the nights that we were at each place. Execution from a service standpoint was better at Solociiccia. IMO the food at the Mozza dinner, while nothing overly complex, was extremely satisfying and worth the inconveniences I noted (and the lack of military digestifs, which as far as I could tell, since I was driving that night and didn't partake, are spirits made with lots of aromatics)

                        1. re: wpage

                          "military digestifs ... are spirits made with lots of aromatics"

                          Peculiar, to say the least.
                          I knew the military ( well, at least cossaks from the napoleonic wars ) were fond of Champagne.
                          Their penchant towards aromatics is new to me.
                          Oh well, I guess cordite has a strong smell.

              2. I absolutely love this concept and would love to try it, but I just know there is no way I could eat even a tiny fraction of that amount of food in one sitting. I always end up miserable with even moderate tasting menus because I'm stuffed halfway through and am sending dishes back with only one bite taken. It's frustrating - this is an experience I would really love to have! Oh well. I guess I will have to make do with reading these great reviews and drooling...

                2 Replies
                1. re: aching

                  View it as a tasting. Take 1 bite of each (if you can) and wait for the next course.

                  It is a gratuitous amount of food. I'm a pretty big eater and have no problems with 12-14 course tastings but I left these meals as full as I've ever been.

                  1. re: Porthos

                    Agreed. You just have to know going in that you will be presented with obscene amounts of food and that you need to pace yourself. I was very full when I left, but didn't feel stuffed because I was very careful to only take a few bites of each course. I do know that others in my part were still in pain the next day, though!