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Maia Harari: Inside Batali's New Mozza Osteria

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Mozza Osteria, Mario Battali's newest adjunct to his Mozza Pizza just opened on Melrose, just west of Highland. Though most new restaurants in LA advertise their debut date months before to start a healthy buzz and build anticipation, Mozza Osteria remained cas about it's opening date: "Sometime this summer"; "Early July, if you're lucky". So my ever-dedicated foodie friend Ben stalked the restaurant for months; until one day, he saw lights on inside and seized the opportunity to make not one, but four! reservations. I should consider it a privilege that he deigned to invite me.

We walk in and try to scope plates, but almost everyone's plates are scraped clean save some unidentifiable sauces. The menu is equally unhelpful because every dish has at least one word completely and totally foreign to us: "Grilled Fowl Crostone with Liver Pancetta Sauce" and "Roasted Pork Arista, Fennel & Onion Agrodolle with Cranberry Beans". I mean, seriously, do you know what cranberry beans are? And then they bring us the Mozzarella Rollatini, to "whet our palettes", and we start to realize that Rollatini just means that it's rolled up like a snail, because it is, and that must be what it means. Unless it's not a word at all, and the kitchen is having some joke on us. And then we start to get the sense that even if we were there with an Italian person we might still have no idea what we were ordering.

But we order nonetheless (with a considerable amount of help from the zealously knowledgeable staff). All in all the pastas and entrees were good, but just that. The mozzarella bar, on the other hand, is to die for. And even though "olive oil sorbet with rosemary cake fritters" doesn't sound like dessert, it was certainly the best way I could think of to finish a meal.

Originally posted at One For the Table

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