6602 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Osteria Mozza and its Pizzeria sibling opened to unreal levels of hype in 2007; without a doubt the hottest Italian restaurant in LA. I left my first visit there with mixed feelings; yes the food was good but at the same time it felt a bit lacking in creativity. I wouldn't have returned were it not for one of my friend who wanted to celebrate his birthday there. We ended up going with the pasta tasting augmented with a few supplements and I noticed the menu remained very similar to the one I had in 2009.
Squid Ink Chitarra Freddi - with Dungeness crab, sea urchin & jalapeño
This was clear favorite of the entire table, so much so that we asked for a second serving right before dessert. The chilled noodles posses a deliciously weighty mouth feel and convey the faintest hint of brine which is reinforced by the duet of shellfish. The jalepeño gives the dish a slightly bitter verdance though I would have like a bit more spice.
Burrata - with speck, English peas & mint
I've loved burrata since my first bite and that passion hasn't dimmed with time. The cheese faintly oozes fresh cream which tempers the weight of the smoky ham and grassy sweetness of the peas and mint.
Burricotta - with braised artichokes, pine nuts, currants & mint pesto
I was a bit wary about the braised artichokes but the dish worked out remarkably well. The creamy cheese is fairly mild which lets the complex medley of nutty, sweet, and vegetal flavors combine nicely.
Amberjack Crudo - with Kishu tangerine, chile & lime
After a few false starts with crudo I've come to appreciate the more varied flavors Italian cuisine can bring to raw fish. The quality of the Amberjack was above reproach and the flavors worked well but I just would have liked them to be a bit more apparent.
Farfalle - with funghi misti e noci
2009 Lugana, Perla del Garda - Lombardia
The tasting menu began with a bow tie pasta paired with mixed mushrooms and walnuts. The earthy savor of the mushrooms is readily apparent as is the aromatic fragrance of the fresh herbs.
Cappelletti di Vitello - burro e salvia
2010 Refosco Rosato, Bastianich - Friuli
This stuffed pasta from Modena is supposed shaped to resemble a small hat though I had a hard time recognizing it as such. The filling is a heady mixture of cheese and veal. The accompanying sauce is a mix of butter and sage by turns both herbaceous and rich.
Garganelli Verde - with ragù Bolognese
2009 Morellino di Scansano "I Perazzi," La Mozza - Toscana
From here on out the pastas become noticeably heavier and more tomato based. First up a dense green pasta paired with a classical rendition of what has become the quintessential pasta sauce.
Rigatoncini - all'Amatriciana
2010 Frappato "Mandragola," Paolo Cali - Sicilia
The Rigatoncini, a curved tubular pasta wasn't particularly impressive but the sauce was quite enjoyable. The fresh tang of the tomato is complimented by the robust meaty verve of guanciale; think pork cheek bacon. The sauce doesn't end there with the heady sweetness of cooked onion and a dash of spice for good measure.
Pici - with boar ragù
2007 Barolo, Brandini - Piemonte
Pici a handmade pasta is akin to a thick spaghetti paired with a rich boar ragù. Rich heavy and hearty a simplistic but fitting final dish.
Hibiscus Flower Gelatina - with blood orange sorbetto
2011 Bigaro, Elio Perrone - Piemonte
A simple yet immensely effective intermezzo, the floral perfume of the hibiscus is paired with a contrasting bitter tang from the sorbetto: racy, sweet, and refreshing.
Rosemary Olive Oil Cakes - with olive oil gelato
2007 Vin Santo, Badia di Morrona - Toscana
This dessert has remained unchanged from my visit back in 2009 but my impression of it has. What I found lackluster before I found immensely enjoyable this time around. It doesn't hurt that olive oil ice cream has rapidly become one of my favorite desserts. The dense crust on the cake hides a moist simple interior that soaks up the savor of the ice cream. Fresh sprigs of rosemary give the dish a piercing minty herbaceousness.
Overall my feelings towards Mozza haven't changed much since my last visit. The food is solid but a but aside from the squid ink pasta feels a bit stolid. While you will still get a good meal, Osteria Mozza has neither the contemporary penache of Scarpetta nor the soulful rusticity of Sotto.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
6602 Melrose Avenue