As far as Hollywood starlets and their inane nicknames go, I'd have to rank OsMo and PizMo ahead of Brit-Brit, J-Lo and LiLo.
Who the hell are OsMo and PizMo you ask?
Oh, they are a couple of sisters that work the corner of Melrose and Highland everynight in Los Angeles—both sisters bringing in hot and brisk business.
Ok, that probably wasn't the best description of these lovely ladies. Let me try that again.
The Mozza sisters are the much-heralded restaurant ventures between superchefs Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali. I sang the praises of the older sister, Pizzeria Mozza (PizMo), earlier this year. And as soon as word got out that Pizzeria Mozza's new sister restaurant, Osteria Mozza (OsMo), was open for business, I got on the blower ASAP to snag a meeting with this young up and comer.
It took me about 10 tries, but I finally bypassed busy signals and got through to one of OsMo's representatives. Surprisingly enough (starlets and their handlers are so unpredictable), I was able to get reservations at OsMo for my wife and myself just two weeks after OsMo's name went up in lights on opening night.
Osteria Mozza is the more glamorous and sophisticated (and expensive) of the two Mozza sisters, featuring a variety of antipasti, pasta, and main courses as opposed to the more casual fare at the Pizzeria.
I'm not sure how Nancy Silverton divides her time between the two adjoining restaurants, whether or not she has to flit between the Pizzeria and the Osteria in the same night. Whatever the case, Silverton was in her pale blue OsMo apron, as opposed to the bright orange frock of PizMo, on the night my wife and I visited the Osteria.
Similar to the pizza bar at Pizzeria Mozza, Silverton works her magic from behind another bar at the nextdoor Osteria. However, instead of pizzas, Silverton churns out fresh cheese creations from behind the glistening white marble Mozzarella bar at the Osteria
Our first dish was something straight from Silverton at the mozzarella bar:
[I apologize in advance for all the blurry pictures. My paparazzi skills are lacking.]
"Compliments of the chef," our waiter told us as he set these flavorful pinwheels of mozzarella, pesto, sundried tomatoes, olives, and olive oil on our table. Since these were compliments of the chef, I had initially thought that Silverton created them just for me because she was awestruck from across the room by my dashing good looks.
I was wrong.
It turned out that every table got these complimentary mozzarella starters.
Oh well. Despite my bruised ego, I still found this first offering of cheese incredibly fresh and delicious. We were looking very forward to the dishes that we actually did order.
The Burrata Escarole featured two crisp crostini topped with grilled escarole, bacon, fresh Burrata cheese, and caramelized onions. Sweet. Milky. Smoky. Kinda like LiLo in "Mean Girls". And I mean that in a good way. A very good way. I was having a good time.
For our antipasti, we ordered the Crispy Pigs Trotter—to which our waiter said: "Oooh! Adventurous eaters!"
"Uh, no buddy. I'm just Filipino and I likes me some pork. Now bring me that pig's foot, Homey."
I actually didn't say that out loud. That probably would have been rude.
Anyhoo, I really didn't know what to expect with this antipasti. I had this vision of a gnarled, deep-fried pig's foot gilded with chopped parsley being set before us. I was wrong. Again.
The Crispy Pigs Trotter was presented in the form of a croquette—I guess the meat and fat was picked off of a pig's foot and formed into a wonderfully porky puck that was covered in bread crumbs and then deep fried. The Crispy Pigs Trotter was served with a chicory salad and a light mustard dressing. My wife thought this dish was OK, but I loved it. It was one of my favorites that night. Mmmm. Pig's Foot.
For our Primi courses, My wife ordered the Fresh Ricotta and Egg Raviolo. A single, though large, Ravioli bathed in browned butter and sage was set in front of my wife. After cutting into this Smurf-sized pillow, the fresh Ricotta and golden egg yolk flowed out and melded with the browned butter:
Like everything else we had that night, this Ravioli consisted of the simplest ingredients that were prepared and cooked so perfectly. The nuttiness of the browned butter, the sage, the mild curds of cheese, the rich and creamy yolk—all of these flavors were distinct, yet they blended together so nicely. It was my wife's favorite dish by far.
Conversely, I had the Orrechiette with sausage and swiss chard:
These chewy little ears of pasta were filled with spicy sausage and swiss chard and then topped with crisp bread crumbs at the table. Although this pasta dish had just the right amount of spice to it, I wasn't blown away by it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the Orecchiette, it just wasn't my favorite.
Moving on to the Secondi course, my wife and I split the Grilled Quail.
Yikes. That is one seriously bad mugshot of quail. Almost as bad a mugshot as this. Egads!
Anyways, the grilled quail was SUPERB! It was wrapped in pancetta and radicchio, grilled to a pink medium-rare, and finished with sage honey. The char on the radicchio paired with the sweetness of the honey and the saltiness of the pancetta was another beautiful flavor combination. I know I said the Pig's Foot in puck form was my favorite, but I think I am changing my mind. Yup. I am. The Grilled Quail was definitely my favorite offering at OsMo.
And finally, for dessert (yes, we still had room) I had the Olive Oil Gelato with Olive Oil Cakes and my wife had the Almond Cornette with Greek Yogurt Gelato and Plum Compote.
The Olive Oil Gelato on its own was very good. But the Olive Oil Cakes were little donut-hole-sized cakes that were too savory and ultimately disappointing. I hated these little cakes. Gross. I would have much preferred just a giant bowl of the Olive Oil Gelato sans cakes. The picture of this Olive Oil dessert is much worse than the quail mugshot, so I'll spare you.
On the other hand, the Almond Cornette with Greek Yogurt Gelato was excellent:
The Greek Yogurt Gelato was wonderfully tangy and sweet and about a gajillion times better than anything you can get at Pinkberry. The Plum Compote was surprisingly good too, and made for a tasty dipping sauce for the Almond Cornette pastry.
When all was said and done, the total damage for one order from the Mozarella Bar, one antipasti, two pasta dishes, one main course, two desserts, an espresso, and one bottle of Ribolla (I've never heard of it either, but it was damn good wine) was just about $200 total after tip. It was just the right amount of food for the wife and I. Was it worth it? Hell yes!
Like the rest of young Hollywood, Osteria Mozza is surely off to meteoric heights only after a short time in the limelight. But unlike her luxury-car-crashing, baby-dropping, coke-snorting counterparts, OsMo will surely not fall victim to a downward spiral of embarrassing mediocrity. She will only get better with age. I will be visiting her, and her sister, many more times in the future.
Thanks to the Mozza sisters, LA will never be the same.