Last week I found myself at Osteria Mozza for a friend's birthday dinner. It had been a while since I had been to the Osteria, as I tend to go to the more casual pizzeria more often. The table ordered a number of dishes but I will focus on the two I enjoyed the most.
First was the beautiful dish of mozzarella with tomatoes and toast. The mozzarella was of top quality and had an unctuous texture and mouthfeel, both silky and creamy. The cherry tomatoes tasted fresh and were juicy and the whole dish let the quality of the ingredients shine through without any unnecessary adornment.
The other standout dish was the Grilled Beef Tagliata rucola & Parmigiano with aceto balsamico. This came from the Secondi section of the menu and was priced at $29. The steak was sliced in the kitchen and was cooked a perfect medium rare, as asked for. The dish was also simple with balsamic vinegar on it and a salad of arugula with thin slices of aged Parmesan. The saltiness of the Parmesan cheese was a great complement to the sliced beef. This dish was a real crowd pleaser.
We wouldn't have ordered this dish, except our first choice of the Grilled Leg of Lamb was unavailable, and it worked out. Mozza seemed to be out of several dishes the night we dined, which can be frustrating as a diner as we weren't told of what they were out of until we tried to order them. Memo to restaurants: don't hope that your customers won't order the dishes you are out of, so that you won't have to disclose their unavailability. Tell them upfront so that nobody gets excited about an option they can't really have. Readers: if you have your heart set on something on the menu, perhaps call Mozza in advance to ask them to save you a portion, to avoid possible disappointment.
Note that Nancy Silverton was there even on a Sunday evening, working at the Mozzarella Bar. She mentioned she is typically there 4-5 nights a week.
Osteria Mozza: 641 N. Highland, Los Angeles. (323) 297-0100. Website: www.mozza-la.com