I will admit to having a small bias against Italian food, and more specifically eating it in LA. Living in LA, it's hard not to be health conscious and carb conscious while thinking about gluten free, preservative free, GMO free, and free from a host of other food stigmas that come up on a daily basis. Things are a little different in Europe. After having eaten my way across the continent, it was a pleasure to enjoy many different types of food in different places that don't have to mention any of the above. They don't have to mention it because most of the food is naturally grown and in close proximity to the restaurant. Of course there was a scandal breaking while I was in Paris about some bistros serving "boil-in-the-bag" fare, but I like to think that's the exception.
This is a long way of saying, I've returned to eating Italian food. It was impossible to go to Italy and not eat the local cuisine. I had many wonderful meals with the freshest of pasta from the freshest of waiters. It was then that I decided I wasn't going to wait to eat more superb Italian food until my next trip abroad, so I'm now playing catch up on great Italian food in LA, and I started with Osteria Mozza.
Osteria Mozza is the brainchild of famed chef Nancy Silverton who honed her skills in France and has a strong pedigree having worked for Wolfgang Puck as his head pastry chef at Spago. She went on to open Campanile with Mark Peel, may this beloved restaurant and its fabulous grilled cheese night rest in peace. At that time she also had the grand epiphany that the bread in LA doesn't hold a candle to that found in Europe, so then we had the good fortune of getting La Brea Bakery and her bread is now in 17 countries.
Silverton started her domination of the corner of Highland and Melrose with Pizzeria Mozza and partners Bam-Bam Batali and Joe Bastianich in 2006. Then LA learned to make a reservation 3 weeks out to get a good pizza. Osteria Mozza opened next door a few years later with equal reservation difficulties, so I could blame my late arrival here on my inability to get a reservation. They also now have Mozza2Go, which is take out of their best items from the two restaurants.
On to the food. When our waiter greeted us and explained that today was one of the two days a week (Thur. and Fri) that they get burrata freshly flown in from its birthplace in Puglia, it seemed a crime not to order it. There were no regrets when the creamy cheese arrived on a bed of golden olive oil and leeks. It was worth every penny of the $26 we paid for it.
There was a beautiful burricotta with braised artichokes that looked like flowers blooming with pine nuts and currants on a bed of mint pesto and just a little more cheese.
The fior di latte came with four topping options of salsa romesco, pesto, tapenade and caperberry relish. Definitely a crowd pleaser.
Before I launch into all of the pastas we ate, I should mention that there were 5 of us, and the pasta portions aren't large since they're meant to be eaten with other dishes on the menu, so don't judge. The francobolli di Brasato may have been the least picturesque pasta, but it was hearty and meaty with crushed duck liver and black truffle in postage stamp sized ravioli.
The squid ink chitarra freddi was colorfully chaotic with its cold noodles stacked high with dungeness crab, sea urchin and jalapeño. Interesting combination.
The crozetti stampati was layered with warm eggplant, olives and fresh ricotta. While tasty, this was probably the least interesting of the dishes.
The orecchitette was one of the crowd favorites since it packed the most punch with its little ear shaped pasta mixed with spicy sausage and swiss chard. The other favorite was the maltagliati that had a wonderfully rich, wild boar ragu.
The pasta was solid across the board - perfectly made, cooked and served. If you're not gluten free or carb free, I suggest a visit if you haven't already been. And if you are, this is a great place to experience what you're missing.