Iron Chef America is the reason I became addicted to The Food Network. I remember watching an Iron Chef America marathon into the late wee hours of the night. I kept telling myself that as soon as they revealed the next secret ingredient, I would go to bed. Of course, I wasn't satisfied with just knowing what the secret ingredient was, so I would wait until the first commercial, then it became the second commercial, then until the dishes were plated, and then...you get the idea. Before I knew it, the next episode was just about to start, and the cycle would start all over again.
CK and I took an AWESOME trip to L.A. this weekend, and we managed to get reservations at Iron Chef Mario Batali's Italian restaurant, Osteria Mozza. I didn't choose this restaurant because of Mario Batali, but because they offered a mozzarella bar. I had read about a few opening up in NYC, and have been meaning to try one ever since.
The service at Osteria Mozza was excellent. Our waitress was extremely knowledgeable and was eager to impart her knowledge to us. We arrived 35 minutes late for our reservation due to L.A. traffic, and the hostess was kind enough to squeeze us in.
Our meal began with a complimentary small dish that consisted of crostini topped with ricotta, black olive tapenade, and basil. This was extremely flavorful, and it helped settle our hunger.
CK and I ordered a few dishes and shared them all.
The mozzarella bar offers a selection of mozzarella that ranges from burrata (mozzarella with cream in the middle) to bufala mozzarella (water buffalo mozzarella) to burricotti (mozzarella with ricotta in the middle).
We sampled two mozzarella dishes. The first was the burrata with leeks vinaigrette, and mustard breadcrumbs. The cheese was chewy on the outside and creamy and soft on the inside. The crispy breadcrumbs with the soft cheese created a very interesting texture. We found the mustard just a tad overpowering in this dish.
The second was the bufala mozzarella with shell beans, oven dried tomatoes & basil pesto. This was an amazingly smooth and soft cheese. We preferred this over the burrata as it had a much fresher taste. The mozzarella is best eaten with a smudge of pesto. Eating it with the tomatoes or beans will mask the taste of the sweet mozzarella.
Our antipasti was the grilled octopus with potatoes, celery, and lemon. The grilled octopus was charred nicely on the surface, and was tender on the inside. The texture of their octopus is different from what you would expect. They tenderize their octopus by braising it in olive oil and chilies before grilling it. This created a neat, melt in your mouth texture.
I wanted to try the calf's brain pasta, but CK just couldn't stomach the idea. In the end, we compromised on the tagliatelle with oxtail ragù with grated pecorino on top. The oxtail ragu was delicious and the pecorino added extra saltiness to the dish.
Our last dish was the grilled leg of lamb with insalata di fregola sarda, mint & yogurt. The lamb was prepared medium rare, and the mint and yogurt was a perfect pairing.
Our meal ended with a cornetto alla mandorla. It was a refreshing dessert that was an almond croissant served with yogurt gelato, sauteed blood oranges and clementines. This was a simple dessert, but it was amazingly tasty. CK wasn't in the mood for dessert but ended up eating half of mine. The yogurt gelato had a nice sour flavor, and the oranges and clementines had a warm, sweet, syrupy coating.
I highly recommend this place. All the dishes were executed well, and the mozzarella bar added a unique experience.
6602 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, California, USA