Osteria Mozza, and Pizzeria Mozza next door, are owned by celebrity chefs Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali and restauranteur/wine expert Joseph Bastianich. Osteria Mozza sits at the corner of Melrose and Highland Avenues. Reservations are HIGHLY recommended, but we lucked out and were able to simply walk in and get seated at the mozzarella bar.
The mozzarella bar is probably my choice for the best seating, as opposed to the tables. You sit at a wide expanse of marble that is covered with plates, little metal characters like the bunny family above, candles and foodstuffs for the cooks to use as they prepare antipasti and such. Plus, the cooks are doing some of their work right in front of you and are very approachable. Many thanks to Grace (that's her in the pic behind the wine and bunnies) for helping us through the menu and giving us the lowdown on the place.
The vibe is urban relaxed upscale and the food is pretty darn fabulous. Dark wood, tall ceilings, wine bottles everywhere and an open layout that lets the crowd chatter waft through the space help lend an energy to the place. We started with some cheese and white wine. That's the cheese dish above, burrata with leaks vinaigrette and mustard breadcrumbs. The presentation was awesome and the taste even better. The mustard is prominent, but mixes well with the flavors of the cheese, vinaigrette and leek.
For pasta, Josh took a step out of the ordinary with their corzetti stampati with eggplant, olive and sheeps milk ricotta. It was light and delicious. I went for a classic Roman pasta dish, spaghetti carbonara, and found it too salty. That was disappointing, however it was the only low point in an extremely enjoyable dinner. A bit of espresso following our meal picked me right back up, plus Josh let me have a couple of bites of his corzetti stampati.
Ok, so here's the exciting end to our dinner. As we left the restaurant, we noticed that we were suddenly surrounded by police and security guys. There were police cars and three big black SUV's, a camera dude from TMZ watching and waiting on the sidewalk like a vulture and people milling about wondering which celebrity warranted all the security. It turns out that while we were finishing our dinner, First Lady Michelle Obama was in a private dining room on the other side of the wall beginning her dinner. Nice... One interesting note is that all of the Secret Service agents looked like clean-cut Orange County country club guys. They left their dark suits and sunglasses at home, and instead went for the golf shirt and khaki pants vibe.
Next time, we're gonna have to give the pizza at Pizzeria Mozza a try. For info and reservations, head to mozza-la.com.