Osteria Mozza: My Favorite Restaurant, Minus the Quail

— by Caroline on Crack

Gnocchi with duck ragu

People always ask me what my favorite restaurant is. And while I can offer up a selection of those I’m fond of, I never really had a favorite before — that one answer that’s at the ready for any dinner-related question, the one that I utter with glee every time. That is until I had dinner at Osteria Mozza.

Yes, I was soo late to the game on this one, but I usually shy away from places like this. You know, The Hottest Restaurant, The It Spot, Celeb Central. And people were selling their reservations! Wuuut? But finally when my housemate persuaded me to go with her one night, I did and instantly fell in love with the newer Mozza. So naturally I picked it as the spot to celebrate mine and my bf’s anniversary (is that worded correctly?).

Since he loves to eat and enjoys good food as much as I do, I knew he’d appreciate the restaurant, too. So I secured a reservation a month in advance with no hassle.

We arrived a half hour early which I didn’t mind at all cuz that just meant I had time to enjoy a Manhattan at the beautiful bar in the back. Bf ordered Grimbergen blonde ale. When the bartender asked me if I wanted my cocktail served on the rocks or up, I knew I was in good hands and I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about her shaking it.

The Manhattan itself was perfect, soo delicious and smooth. There was a little extra tang of something in the savoring of it that I couldn’t put my finger on. AND they used brandied cherries instead of the despicable maraschino cherries. I tell ya, there’s nothing like sipping on a Manhattan at a beautiful marble bar with your honey on a cold winter night.

When we were seated, we got a little table near the front. Unlike my last visit here when my housemate got the good seat, this time I got to sit facing the restaurant. It’s so purty! Very low light though; ideal for romantic dinners but terrible for food shots without flash. The restaurant was buzzing for a chilly Tuesday night with lots of big tables filled with friends and booths occupied by couples; the mozzarella bar was packed and the bar itself was getting there.

Our server Nicole was attentive, friendly and helpful. When she thought we were splitting all our dishes — we ordered the burratta with bacon and gnocchi with duck ragu and I ordered the quail — she sorta whispered to bf that all the portions are medium size, thinking he wasn’t going to order an entrée. She didn’t say this with disdain or embarrassment, but helpfulness. I love that about this place. You’d think a fancy restaurant like this would be all snooty but it isn’t! It seems dedicated to the enjoyment of the food rather than trying to look cool.

In any case, the burratta was OMG divine and the tender gnocchi with that rich duck ragu made me weep. It was just soo good! ::tear:: But I have to say, I wasn’t crazy about the quail I ordered. And it’s not for the reason you think. I’m sure it was prepared beautifully — wrapped in pancetta with radicchio and sage honey. The thing is, its little wings and little legs creeped me out. And I just about erped in my mouth when I had to cut into it. I think I’ve watched too many CSI episodes.

I like meat but I don’t want to be reminded what it looked like when it was alive. Hamburgers come from hamburger farms. Mommy loves daddy, mommy loves daddy! So yeah, that was a mistake to order. And the thing is, I knew that I’m not big on game. There was rabbit and that duck I liked from last time but I thought, Oh the quail is just like a tiny chicken.

From the bit I tasted, the meat was tender. When I cut into its little body ::shudder:: it was filled with savory vegetables. That’s as far as I got. Fortunately I was full from our cheese and pasta. I think the next time I come here, I’ll stick to cheese and pasta, which I’m more than happy to do.

After I waited patiently for bf to finish his monkfish which he loved, hmf!, we ordered dessert. I was tempted to order the delicious rosemary olive oil cakes I had last time but instead I chose the apple pie-ish dessert with its apple cider jelly gelato. Its warm, flaky pastry was the perfect accompaniment to the weather. The thin slice of apple was jellified and chewy; different but in a good way.

I wish I could come here all the time but it’s too expensive for my limited means so I’ll just save it for special occasions or maybe just for when I want to stop in for a Manhattan and mozzarella cheese. But yes, this is my favorite restaurant.

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90038 (map)
(323) 297-0100

Osteria Mozza on Urbanspoon