My husband and I dined at Osteria Mozza last Saturday. The review is here with pics:
With all the hype, there was almost no chance Osteria Mozza could live up to the unrealistic expectations I put upon it, i.e., to knock my socks off even though it had only been open three weeks. However, it did impress me, and better than that, it excited me. I am already deciding what to order on my next visit...
Disclaimer: This was only my first visit--lately I prefer to eat somewhere at least twice before posting but I could not resist given how H-O-T this restaurant is.
SETTING - Wow. I expected, well, an osteria. That is not what I got. Osteria Mozza is glamorous. It is grand. And the energy is contagious. At least 20 foot ceilings, which are painted chocolate brown from 2/3 of the way up to the wall and seem to add a degree of warmth. The space is large, but not overwhelmingly so. The marble counters are classy, and there is lots of bar space, which they will no doubt need given the difficulty of getting a reservation there.
We had an 8:00 reservation but were not seated until 9:15. The restaurant apologized profusely and assured us they would make it up to us (more on that later). We had a nice table in the main room along the leather banquette.
SERVICE - James, a server we recalled from the Hungry Cat, took good care of us. He gave great suggestions and (between he and the gentleman refilling our water regularly) never missed a beat. He was also relaxed while still being professional. Wine-wise, David Rosoff, the manager, helped us because the sommelier was busy. A stroke of luck indeed. We considered ordering a Lagrein, which we really enjoyed at the Pizzeria, but went a different way and were big fans of the $50 Montepulciano we ordered.
FOOD - The menu is larger than I expected and offers lots of tempting choices. We were starving when we sat down, and were glad when the amuse bouche of mozzarella rolled around olives, peppers and greens arrived. It was tasty.
The restaurant also sent over two glasses of prosecco. My stomach was so empty I only took a couple sips, but it was very nice.
What we had:
--Grilled Octopus with Celery, Potato and Lemon. I had heard this was a great appetizer, and it was just as advertised. Very tender octopus, and the preparation complimented the octopus very well. My favorite octopus dish right now is at All'Angelo--a carpaccio--but this is one of the best cooked octopus dishes I have had. A winner.
--Proscuitto and Melon. This was a complimentary appetizer due to our long wait. I purposely did not order the proscuitto because I wanted to try their more unique dishes, but next time I will because it was fantastic. Perfectly sliced and melt in your mouth delicious.
--Burrata from Basilicata with Leeks. The presentation of this cheese was fantastic, but--and I never thought I'd say this about burrata--I don't think I would order this again. The consistency was far denser than any burrata I had tasted before. I prefer a buttery, creamy texture, whereas this was more like the burrata I'm accustomed to crossed with cream cheese (in terms of texture, not flavor). They have 2 or 3 other burrata options, and I have been told the one with bacon is excellent, so next time I will likely order that. Note the olive oil and leeks were lovely, and the grilled bread accompanying the cheese crusty and charred just the way I like it. Also, my husband found the different texture to be a plus, not a minus.
--Orecchiette with sausage and swiss chard. Like the octopus, this dish had gotten rave reviews from most reviewers, and I have to agree. I in general prefer a more delicate noodle (like a tagliatelle or pappadelle for ex.) but the flavors were just fabulous. The sausage is magnificent and the breadcrumbs they sprinkle on top at the table provide a nice bit of crunch. A true crowd pleaser.
--Fresh Ricotta and Egg Raviolo with Brown Butter. This may have been the dish of the night. I loved the stronger flavors of the orechiette, but this was just so elegant. The delicate pasta, silkiness of the egg and ricotta, rich butter sauce, subtle flavor of sage, and pungent cheese lightly grated on top was a stellar combination. I've also never had a pasta dish like this before. This is probably not for everyone, but we loved it.
--Braised Beef with Polenta. We were really too full for this but wanted to try it, so we took most of it home. Oh boy is it rich. I always love polenta with short ribs, and that is what this dish reminded me of. It's not unusual, but it's damn delicious. I think only someone with a monstruous appetite could eat this entire dish plus a pasta though.
--Olive oil gelato with rosemary olive oil cakes and rosemary brittle. Having heard as much as I have about the olive oil gelato made famous in Batali's NYC establishments, I tried to make room for dessert. This was the perfect dish given how full we were. The gelato was creamy and satisfying, and the brittle was nice for rosemary-lovers like us. The cakes were fine, nothing amazing. This dish does not rival the Budino next door, but it's very good.
--Cappuccino (Intelligentsia espresso). It's so nice when restaurants train their staff to make a proper cappuccino, and this was better than any coffee place in town.
To our shock, our 75 min wait was rewarded not only with glasses of prosecco and an appetizer. Osteria Mozza also comp-ed our wine, a first for me. How about that? Makes you not mind waiting one bit.
Location: At the corner of Highland and Melrose. Most of you know this, but there's walk-in seating at the bar, and reservations are VERY hard to come by. They employ the French Laundry and Babbo method so call a month before you want to go at 10 am when the reservation lines open. Happy eating!