In the city of angels, where would you pop champagne over a kiss to kick start a new era?
Los Angeles is by far closest to my heart, in an explicable way. The city of angels, often compared to my home in the city of dreams, makes me feel more liberated in its translucent reality. Which brings me to a black tie night out in Osteria Mozza, a casual cozy spot, but gilded in chandeliers and well dressed patrons who flock into the Hollywood hotspot to savor dishes by Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich and Nancy Silverton. With white tablecloths, a golden ambiance and a marble mozzarella bar featuring fresh dishes, the ambiance was one to be savored with indulgence. And thus, my tuxedo shirt and dramatic look for a galactic night to chase the finest of cheeses.
I started with a Negroni, a classic Campari cocktail that I had discovered in Florence, Italy, where it had been discovered! Strong, spirit forward with a hint of sour, it woke me up for a night in my favorite city. It arrived with burrata cheese on toast with a dollop of cranberry herb chutney on top. The cheese was one of the smoothest I had tasted, with a salty undertone that balanced well with the sweet and tangy chutney.
My appetizer continued to be from the iconic mozzarella bar that was a staple on every prolific review of this illustrious Hollywood haunt. I had the burricotta, which was radicchio with spiced walnuts, topped with fried rosemary and served on an oat biscuit. The cheese was velvety, smooth and luscious, with a crispy under-note from a clever oat biscuit that kept things light, and from the fried rosemary that retained its aroma alongside a crunch! The bite with a seductive dollop of honey transported me to Italy again.
For an entree, I received a hearty dish of smoked buffalo mozzarella, which looked as golden and decadent as it was aromatic. Peppered with paprika, unusual for an Italian dish, and combined with herbs, it was a cheese lovers dream, with luscious, warm bites of mozzarella in the hand made pasta. While there was nothing to break the texture or the heartiness, it was as sinfully indulgent as possible, in the savory element of things.
Pastry Chef Dahlia Narvaez, known for her inclusion of ogle-worthy olive oil in desserts, served up alluring plates in golden gastronomy, winning her the 2016 Outstanding Pastry Chef Honor at the James Beard Foundation Awards. And to digest the upcoming array and the previous courses, I requested an Italian cappuccino which inevitably arrived with a dark chocolate cacao nougat and latte art. Perfect.
The first of the dessert duo was the classic Italian doughnut hole: Bombolini, with huckleberry compote and lemon mascarpone. A clever combination of flavors, for the hearty and sugary but cloud textured balls were a perfect offset for the tart compote and the lemony soft texture of the mascarpone. The overall softness in texture ate like a cotton candy cloud, sans the saccharine sweetness, and with the rare crunch of sugar. Truly miraculous.
To close the night was the pastry chef’s signature dish, and one that arrived plated regally. The aroma of rosemary olive oil cakes was a whiff that transcended the entire ambiance, paired with a beautifully velvet olive oil gelato and an artistic rosemary brittle, playfully curved with pulled sugar and rosemary bits. After inhaling the art on a plate, I bit into the soft cakes, which exuded a subtle flavor of rosemary, and a stronger one of olive oil, which was a juxtaposition I had gobbled up before, and repeatedly did the same with! The olive oil gelato left a layer on my tongue which was swept away with the crispy melt of the more prominently flavored brittle. It was truly a charming sensory and textural play on all levels.
And thus concluded an indulgent night in the city of angels, where we left well past midnight to play with the devils of the night.