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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).


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  1. Which Mozza are you talking about? Pizzeria Mozza or Osteria Mozza. One is much more casual....and quite a bit louder. I don't find Providence at all pretentious, but it is fine dining.

    1. 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,,,

      1. 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.

        2 Replies
          1. re: Porthos

            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....)

          2. Providence.

            And I've never heard of it being "over the top or pretentious." Service is very fine and so is the food.

            1. 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.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Lambster

                You will have a lot more fun at Mozza. You will eat great food, which is not too serious & not as expensive

              2. Another vote for Mozza. While I love Providence and I don't think it is pretentious in any way, I think Mozza is the best option for a celebratory dinner.

                1. 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.

                  1. Providence. You'll be happy.

                    1. 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

                      1. Eat at Providence... while your parents still pay your bills.

                        1 Reply
                        1. 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.

                          1. 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.

                            1. 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.

                              1. Munashi,
                                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!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: VenusCafe

                                  Good to hear that...I have reservations coming up for my second Providence experience...what kind of deals? THANKS!

                                  1. re: running pig

                                    I cannot find the email I received about 3+ wks ago, Now I'm afraid that perhaps it was just
                                    for May, but my membory is that it covered a wide period of time. You might call them and inquire. I did not see anything on their website when I looked today

                                2. 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.

                                  1. Thanks for all the advice guys. In the end I settled on Providence, as I felt that it was more of the experience I'm looking for. I'll let you all know how the dinner goes!

                                    1. Both are great but you can try what my friends and I have done a couple of times... eat a late/light lunch at Mozza (3pm-ish reservations) and then drive down the street to Providence for their 5:30pm seating dessert tasting menu.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: mrshankly

                                        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

                                        Fluke, geoduck
                                        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

                                        Foie gras
                                        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

                                        Cheese plate

                                        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