Sunday, June 7, 2009

Angelic Agnolotti: Osteria Mozza

After visiting the much-hyped Pizzeria Mozza last year, I left enjoying it, but thinking the pizza was overrated. For me though, the test of a truly great restaurant is whether it calls you back. Do you get that itching feeling that you have to return, either to revisit the food you previously ordered or to explore the rest of the menu? Sometimes, I get that feeling the minute I walk out the door, other times it takes a few days or weeks, but that to me is the true test of whether I really loved it, not as an academic matter, but on an intensely emotional level. With Pizzeria Mozza, I never got that feeling.

Possibly because I never got that feeling from the Pizzeria, I never made a huge effort to get to its sister restaurant, Osteria Mozza. Having recently visited, though, I can already tell that the Osteria is in an entirely different category.

There were many great things at Osteria Mozza, from the burrata with fried guanciale to the perfectly cooked sweetbreads picatta with artichokes (and extra points to them for putting sweetbreads back in the entree category where they belong), but the highlight was the pasta.

Pasta is nice, but it isn't usually a dish I go nuts for. The Agnolotti at Mozza, however, was a whole new level of pasta. The small pasta squares were delicate, just a tad chewy, and stuffed with a rich combination of pork, lamb and salami. They were served in a beautifully subtle burro e salvia (sage and butter sauce), which was thicker than you would expect, almost as if the butter would congeal at any minute, though it never did. This was way beyond your typical ravioli in sage and butter, including the very nice version served at Fraiche. The tenderness of the pasta, the salty meat filling, the thick butter and sage all came together in an extraordinary way to create one of the great pasta dishes I've tasted.

The $19 serving of Agnolotti would make a light entree for one or a nice, shared appetizer for two.

I know already that I'll be back.

Osteria Mozza
(You really don't know where it is?)
641 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 297-0101

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