Saturday, August 4, 2007


Ok, we admit it – we’re suckers for celebrity chef restaurants. Especially Food TV chefs. So when we heard that Mario Batali was opening up a restaurant in LA, we anxiously awaited the chance to try his cuisine again, having had such a great experience at Babbo in New York. However just like Babbo, it was almost impossible to get a reservation at what had become LA’s newest hotspot. 2 hours after the reservation lines opened, I finally got through and was able to secure the next weekend spot available – which was almost 1 month later. Needless to say, we had high hopes and expectations for Batali's latest culinary endeavor.

An Italian Amuse Bouche:Stuzzichini with basil, sundried tomato, mint pesto and olive
The highlight of Osteria Mozza is the free-standing, marble Mozzarella Bar in the center of the restaurant. Here, chef Nancy Silverton, founder of La Brea Bakery and Campanile, takes classic Mozzarella, Burrata, Bocconcini, Strachiatella and many other variations of mozzarella and creates a wide array of interesting small plates . So we were excited when our Amuse Bouche turned out to be one of her mozzarella creations.

Burrata with bacon, marinated escarole & caramelized shallots
Burrata has become one of the hottest ingredients this summer and is popping up on upscale restaurant menus all over the country. This young Italian cheese is essentially fresh mozzarella stuffed with cream, which oozes onto your plate when you cut into it. This sweet and incredibly creamy cheese is the highlight of the Mozzarella bar, and what better way to try it than on toasty bread with bacon and caramelized shallots. The explosion of flavors and texture in each bite was incredible – the creamy, silky cheese, salty bacon, crunchy bread, sweet onions, and slightly bitter escarole. The only difficult part was trying to get each component of the dish in every bite without burrata dribbling down our chins.

Orrechiette with sausage & Swiss chard

Much easier to eat than pronounce, the orrechiette pasta with sausage, swiss chard rivals the Burrata with its mixture of flavors and textures (it's all about the breadcrumbs spooned on top!). While less of the this dish dribbled down our chins-we actually used silverware for this course-it was no less mouth-watering. Even with the sausage, it was a relatively light course, and the saltiness was a nice contrast for our other dish for this course:

Fresh Ricotta & Egg Raviolo with browned butter

Ricotta and...egg? It's not a combination I've had anywhere but a breakfast omelet, but it worked. This raviolo (the singular of ravioli?) was rich and sweet while the orrechiette was lighter and salty. We tore through this dish particularly quickly, not only because the sweet ricotta and brown butter was pleasant after so much bacon and sausage, but also to preserve the texture of the dish before the hot plate cooked the yolk solid!

Beef Brasato with polenta and horseradish gremolata

Although the pastas were the highlight of our meal, the braised beef was fantastic in its own right. The tender and succulent beef was served on a bed of polenta, which soaked up the rich au jus. Caramelized onions and meaty wild mushrooms added even more heartiness to the dish, making it the ultimate comfort food for a cold winter day. Of course, LA doesn’t have many of those so I’m not going to wait until then to enjoy this dish again.

Osteria Mozza - Take Two

Having had an overall great experience at Osteria Mozza, I decided to drag my friend Yana with me a week later for another round. I knew that she would force me to try the more unusual items on the menu, and boy was I right.Having had an overall great experience at Osteria Mozza, I decided to drag my friend Yana with me a week later for another round. I knew that she would force me to try the more unusual items on the menu, and boy was I right.

Grilled Octopus with potatoes, celery & lemon

First off, only click on this picture if you aren’t eating while reading this blog. Second, if the lighting wasn’t dim and I had actually seen what I was eating, I don’t think I would have been so brave. But Yana decided to order this based on the rave reviews and I’m not one to shy away from trying something new. A forkful was put on my plate and I reluctantly took the plunge. I chewed, pondered, and waited for some sort of weird flavor to hit my taste buds. Nothing. It tasted like chicken . . . really. Not a good thing nor a bad thing - it was what it was. Yana loved it, while I decided that one forkful was enough to feel proud of my sheer bravery.

Burricotti, braised artichokes, pine nuts, currants & mint pesto

Our second starter was definitely more tame, but still something that I would not necessarily have ordered myself. I’m much more of a bacon-cheese-onion type. Although I think I ultimately prefer the one Suni and I had, this was definitely a close second. Wonderful combination of texture and flavors. And as you can see, beautifully presented.

Agnolotti, burro e salvia

You already know of my new obsession with agnolotti, and the desire to try theirs was the main reason why I wanted to come back to Osteria Mozza. Filled with tender meat and accompanied with a sage butter sauce, it was delicious. However, I think I prefer the sweetness of Spago’s sweet corn agnolotti as just a matter of preference. Of the 4 pastas that I tasted at Osteria Mozza, I think my favorite was the orrechiette with sausage & Swiss chard – I still salivate when I think about it.

Spaghetti with clams, pancetta & Fresno chile pesto
This was Yana’s pasta, but she generously gave up a bite so that I would have something to blog about. Light and wonderfully spicy, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of flavor in this dish. Again, not something that I would normally order but it was quite tasty.

Olive oil gelato with rosemary cakes

Sometimes you just have to forgo a chocolate dessert in the name of something different and unique. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but the idea of olive oil gelato and rosemary cakes really sparked my interest. Besides being beautiful, this was a wonderfully complex dessert. The flavor of the olive oil and rosemary was dramatic, and went really well together. It’s hard to describe beyond that - you’ll just have to try it yourself.

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