I have always known that he cooked great, authentic Italian meals, but I was never a huge fan of Mario Batali (of Motto Mario and more famously, Iron Chef America on Food Network). But after experiencing the mouthwatering dishes at his restaurant, Osteria Mozza, I was ready to put on a pair of orange Crocks and join his fan club.
Osteria Mozza is one half of Batali’s joint venture with the master bread maker Nancy Silverton of the popular La Brea Bakery (aka my Goddess), and is a more fancy and upscale eatery to its counterpart, Pizzeria Mozza, located next door. Of all the celebrity chef-owned restaurants that I’ve been to in Los Angeles and Vegas (Emeril’s Seafood, Delmonico, Spago, Nobu, and the usual), this was, hands down, the most impressive. All the bourgeois elements where there – the glitz and glamour, fancy zip code, stylish decor, a valet parking that costs my entire paycheck – but one thig that was missing from Osteria Mozza, and gratefully so, was the pretentiousness that’s usually attached to LA hot spots. The service here was down-to-earth and very friendly, and our server blessed us with great recommendations that certainly hit the hungry spot for all of us.
We were seated in a little room in the back of the restaurant which reminded me of a cozy Bed and Breakfast you can find somewhere in a little town in England. We were the first group to arrive but were surprise to see the tables fill up quickly with patrons of all kinds – the young, the old, the casual, the suit-and-ties.
The menus were a bit confusing because they were pretty much all written in Italian but our server lady helped us decided on a wonderful bottle of red, appetizers to share, primi and secondi for all three of us, and of course, desserts.
While we waited for our first dish to arrive, another friendly server brought us a complementary plate of crostini with fresh goat cheese and olive tapenade which showed great promised to how the night’s dining experience would turn out.
Mozzarella tasting: burrata, fior latte & bufala mozzarella
My goodness – who knew that there were so much depth and complexity in mozzarella cheese? Each cheese was so different in texture, flavor, and the way it melts in your month. One even tasted like fresh, silky and buttery tofu that I ate in Japan (which tastes nothing like the ones you buy at a supermarket here). This dish demonstrated the pride Batali has in cheeses, and these little balls, accompanied by Silverton’s out-of-this-world toasts, made us crave for more.
Grilled Octopus with potatoes, celery & lemon
Please excuse the cliché, but this grilled octopus really tasted like chicken. But not one of those cardboard chickens, this tasted like a wonderfully grilled poultry that falls apart perfectly in your mouth. The celery and lemon added a refreshing touch to this northern Italian staple.
Fresh Ricotta & Egg Raviolo with browned butter
This is not your ordinary ravioli in browned butter. Check this out – there’s an egg yolk in the middle that greets you on the first bite!
Beef Brasatowith polenta & horseradish gremolata
We all expected this dish to be slightly sweet but that wasn’t the case. It was simple and more on a bland side but the sprinkle of horseradish coupled with grainy polenta made this dish memorable. Yes, you caught me, I ate a little bit of meat, but it was worth every bite.
Tortellini e brodo
Sorry, I forgot what this dish was called but I hope this is the correct name. These little tortellinis were filled with blend of sweet meats. Don’t worry, single order is not this tiny – the server lady was kind enough to split the dish into three separate plates.
Torta della Nonna with honey & pine nuts
Just talking about this dessert makes me squeal in delight. The torta was fluffy and surprisingly light, and these three different kinds of honey were so unbelievable that I had to try really hard to restrain myself from licking the plate.
Almond Cornette with tangerine and blood orange compote & yogurt gelato
The blood orange compote and yogurt gelato were so refreshing, they were the perfect end to our wonderful night of great wine, delicious food and a wonderful company.
641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036