Monday, December 26, 2011

M is for: Mozza {Los Angeles Restaurant Review}

As I mentioned in my Melted Snowman Cookie post, I spent the holiday with part of my family in Los Angeles this year, soaking up the rays and not missing a white Christmas one bit. Instead of cooking a big dinner like we normally do, we thought it would be fun to hit up one of L.A.'s many great restaurants on Christmas Eve.

My cousin Erin selected Osteria Mozza, which is part of the Mozza Restaurant group, partly owned by Mario Batali. (Also apropos of "M" week).

If you are looking for some of the most amazing Italian food you've ever had outside of Italy, you should definitely check this place out next time you're in Los Angeles. They also have a pizzeria next door, which would be perfect spot for a more casual gathering.

Things got off to a strong start when they brought out a little amuse-bouche for the table, which was a perfect little bruchetta topped with fresh ricotta, olives and basil.

But this place had me hooked long before they brought any food out. I mean...they have a mozzarella bar! Right smack in the middle of the restaurant. We ordered two different types off the mozzarella menu. This one was a Buffalo Mozzarella with four different sauces/spreads to choose from: romanesco salsa, olive tapenade, basil pesto, and caperberry relish. Everyone had their favorite, and it was pretty much all different, so it was great thing to try for a table of five. (The tapenade and caperberries were standouts for me).

We also ordered the mozzarella pizzano...which had a delicious roasted tomato sauce with pancetta and olives. It tasted exactly like pizza and we were tempted to order another one, but we had lots of other food on the way, so we restrained.

All of the pasta at Osteria Mozza is made fresh in-house, so we decided to just order a bunch of different pasta dishes and enjoy them family style. This particular one was so popular with our table that this time, we did end up ordering a second one. It's a Butternut Squash Mezzalune. It was topped with sage and a browned butter, and it almost tasted like dessert.

This was one of my favorite "bites" of the night. It was a giant ravioli stuffed with ricotta and egg and topped with browned butter. As you can see, the yolk came flowing out like lava as soon as you cut into it. There's only one to an order, so we each got a bite....but it sure was a delicious one! A must-order if you come here.

This was a cold pasta, and also one of my favorite plates of the evening. It's a squid ink chitarra and it's served with Dungeness crab, jalapeño, and topped with sea urchin. It was light and well-balanced with interesting flavors that all blended together perfectly.

We ordered two of the orichiette, which included sausage and swiss chard and topped with seasoned breadcrumbs tableside. It was definitely one of the favorites of the table among the heavier pasta dishes. It was delicious, but very rich. I preferred some of the ragus we sampled...

Garganelli with a traditional ragu bolognese was light and flavorful and a favorite of my cousin's. As you would expect from a place like this, the pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente.

The taglietelle with oxtail ragu was a little sweeter than the other ragus because of the oxtail. It was probably my personal favorite among the ragus. Like the orichiette, it was rich, but just perfectly so, and the tomato sauce had a slight smoky taste to it that I really enjoyed. The oxtail was so tender and almost melts in your mouth. I would definitely order this again.

Maltagliati with wild boar ragu was somewhat similar to the oxtail but not as sweet. I also really enjoyed this one, and it was a close runner-up for my favorite ragu of the evening.

Of course, it wouldn't be complete if we didn't order dessert...but we were all so stuffed that one was perfect to share for our table of five. This is the bombolini with huckleberry marmellata and vanilla gelato. As you might remember from my Delfina post, I'm a sucker for anything huckleberry. Basically, it was four warm donuts with huckleberry sauce and ice cream. You can't go wrong with that. It was a perfect end to a perfect evening!

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