Saturday night dinner: Providence vs. Mozza
My family will be coming into town for my graduation in the end of June, and we will be going out for a celebratory dinner on that Saturday night. My family is quite into the food scene in San Francisco, and we have eaten well in many other cities as well. My debate has come down to either Providence or Mozza. I know Providence is supposed to put on the best tasting menu in town, but also has a reputation for being a bit over the top or pretentious. Mozza has an incredibly large and diverse menu (not always a good thing), but a great name going for it. Which one would you recommend for a nice dinner for four very experienced eaters (quieter restaurants are definitely a plus, but I haven't been given the impression that it would be an issue at either location).
We ate at the end of June, so probably had a similar meal to Munashi's. Here's what we had - seemed more seafood-focused than ever. Also really enjoying David Rodriguez's new desserts, even though I wish he channeled more of his experience at Red Medicine...
Pictures and full details here: http://goo.gl/xNWoA
Amuse 1 - Mojito, Screwdriver
Amuse 2 - Oysters, real and imitation
Amuse 3 - Binchotan-grilled sword squid and chorizo, sake/miso-glazed Monterey Bay abalone
Amuse 4 - Nasturtium leaf, scallop tartare, crumbled senbei
Amuse 5 - Nori focaccia, uni, lardo de bellota, black truffle
Shiso, soy salt, foie gras powder, sea beans, chive blossom
Yuzu kosho creme fraiche, oro blanco, sprouted mung beans
Santa Barbara spot prawn, white asparagus
Smoked butter, caviar, fava beans, green almonds, borage
Wild sierra mackerel
Artichoke, Nantes carrots, pearl onion, parsley-jalapeno pistou, fennel pollen
Hazelnuts, spring garlic confit, haricot vert, lardons, porcini
Unagi, grilled apricot
Bachelor's button, foie gras emulsion, arugula
Copper River King salmon, nasturtium, onion in various forms
Australian wagyu, hibiscus syrup
Sunchoke puree, horseradish creme fraiche, glazed beets and pattypan squash, red-veined sorrel
Pickled green strawberries, yogurt
Verjus, pluots, micro celery
Creme fraiche, sable breton, financier, chestnut jam, vanilla mousse
Brown butter custard, banana ice cream, banana cake
Jasmine, granola, wild flower honey gelee, peanuts
Mignardises - Hazelnut creme caramels, chili-lime pate de fruits, and olallieberry macarons
I consider Providence and O Mozza to be in different leagues, with food at Providence more delicate. You say you want quieter, and Provy is quieter.
Unlike Le Bern in NY (coat required), I didn't find the experience at Providence (jeans OK) pretentious at all. One of the waiters loves to joke around with everyone and it's real casual.
Pretentious is me letting everyone on this board know I've eaten at Le Bern and Provy.
Have you been to Providence?
It is a totally solid and friendly restaurant. In June they are offering some awesome special deals,
(but only to those who love them, methinks lol)
Providence is quiet, made for food enthusiasts, the waiters are PERFECT, people chat from table to
table and the food trumps Mozza. The service trumps Mozza, the fabulous eating atmosphere trumps Mozza, YOu will be soooo happy you went there!
The private dining room at Osteria Mozza would be my choice but at this date you'll have to act quickly.
You don't mention how many members of your family will be coming to your graduation but this room can sit up to 40 people.
The attention to detail, the outstanding food, the extensive wine list and the personal attention in this room will be memorable for this very special day.
A graduation party is a time to celebrate, in a less serious environment, and I think this venue is the perfect place for it.
I love both. Providence is my favorite restaurant in the world and I usually reserve that for special occasions. The service, in my experience, has that nice balance of professionalism with warmth. It is also very seafood intensive, which might be a key factor in your decision making. Nobody in LA does seafood better than Cimarusti, in my opinion.
Of note, my two best experiences at Osteria Mozza were sitting at the Mozzarella Bar and having the pasta tasting menu, with one of Silverton's mozzarella apps to start. I find it one of the finest culinary treats in LA, and even trumped my meal at Babbo by leaps and bounds.
Providence is a more serious dining experience. And that can be a lot of fun. Depends on you to some degree.
Mozza is great, one of my top local favs in Italian cooking, but Providence is more formal and more of an event. It is compelling intellectually, visually and molto deliciozo.
But you should make a point to go to both. Also, if someone in your group love sweets - Providence has a 7 course (more or less) dessert tasting menu.
Mozza is a ton of fun, great vibe and food and noise and particularly if you eat later, like 10pm it becomes a whole scene in itself with the guests and the waitstaff kind of jelling - nice feeling. On the other hand, we found Providence to have food that needed to be explained at every dish with a rushed waitperson and antsy staff rushing up and down the center corridor (in view of my seat). My vote, Mozza
If money is not a large factor, I'd vote for Providence. I did not find the experience to be pretentious at all...very friendly folks, in fact. If anything, we have had problems with snotty staff at Mozza (though we loved the pizza and budino). Providence was rather quiet and intimate.
I know some Chowhounders may disagree with me, but I don't think this is even a close call. Osteria Mozza is clearly better. And, while neither restaurant is inexpensive, Mozza is lighter on the wallet. My last meal at Providence was over $400 for 2 people. I've never come close to spending that much for 2 people at Osteria Mozza and I spare myself no expense when eating there
I would also strongly suggest you consider Hatfield's, which is without question one of the finest meals and dining experiences you will have in the Los Angeles area.
Providence is no more pretentious than Manresa and much less so than TFL or Dining Room at the Ritz. It's like Atelier Crenn in terms of formality, in a slightly nicer but still casual dining room. It depends on if you want seafood or pasta for dinner. I love O.Mozza (I'm assuming you mean O.Mozza not P.Mozza) in fact, I'm going again next week. However if you've been to B&B in Vegas or Babbo in NYC, it's very similar except for the Mozzarella bar which is unique to the LA branch. Plus, SF has such great Italian options.
If you don't mind causal and boisterous Red Medicine is doing some of the most unique to LA cuisine these days. If you want a formal celebratory tasting menu dinner, I recommend Providence. You can get the 5 course tasting and supplement from the market menu, or go all out chef's tasting, or create your own tasting from the best looking dishes on the menu. Make sure to get the "ugly bunch" if it's still around and the signature Santa Barbara prawns cooked in hot herb scented salt.
Providence is fancier,
Mozza has more diverse choices on the menu,
Your family will be happy with either
\and PASS on Red Medicine- was just there: loud, poorly paced service, some courses were exceptional, but a couple just seemed weird to be weird (I felt like the sashimi was an entry on "Chopped"- make something with amberjack, red seaweed, buttermilk, and tapioca pearls....)
Mozza reservations come out 30 days early, so if you want to go June 13th you can not book until
May 13th, Warning they fill up very very very fast. Call them to book it, do not book it on open table because they don't get the good times that are available when you actually call the resturant.
PS... I love Providence too,,,