Fraiche – 12/16/10

Fraiche Culver City
9411 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232

Chef Benjamin Bailly is a bit of a blogger darling. During his short stint at Petrossian in West Hollywood, I read blog after blog post raving about his food. I’m not really a huge fan of caviar, and I don’t go out of my way to find a caviar-centric menu. As a result, while there were some dishes I absolutely loved (the truffle mac and cheese, for one), I don’t think I fully appreciated my meal at Petrossian.

In December, Bailly moved on to Fraiche Culver City, a restaurant that serves rustic Italian/French cooking. Definitely something in my comfort zone.

Danny of Kung Food Panda, a big advocate of Bailly’s food at Petrossian, organized a dinner of 18 bloggers/foodies to come sample Bailly’s latest menu.

Olives and Bread & Butter


Waiting for us at the table were some olives and bread & butter.

Piquillo Cheese Spread – Chorizo, Manchego
Tonnato Dip – Tuna, White Anchovy, Capers
Smoked Trout Rilletes – Lemon, Chives, Creme Fraiche
Chicken Liver Parfait – Green Apple Jelly
Olivade – Ricotta, Olives, Roasted Tomatoes
Eggplant Caviar – Raisin, Marcona Almonds


Also waiting for us at the table was a selection of potted meats and spreads with some crostini. With so many varieties and so many people (and pacing was important, this was going to be a long meal), I didn’t get a chance to sample each of these. However, my favorite was the piquillo spread for its sweet and savory combination of flavors.

Hamachi Tartare – Shaved Turnip, Lime, Espelette Pepper


This tartare didn’t quite look as I expected it to, with the fish sort of hidden. However, the taste was spot on with the hamachi’s light flavor accented by a little bit of turnip and lime citrus.

Vitello Tonnato – Veal Steak Tartare, Arugula, Parmesan


Next was a steak tartare. I thought some of the pieces of steak were a little chewy/sinewy for me, but overall was pretty good. The nuttiness of some parmesan and a good crostini completed the dish. Loved the arugula too.

Brussels Sprouts – Chorizo, Manchego, Dates, Almond Piquillo Vinaigrette


The brussels sprouts were blanched nicely, yielding a cool, crisp “al dente” texture. Just a little bit of chorizo flavor accented the brussels sprouts, while the vinaigrette helped to cut the richness of the sausage.

Bouchot Mussels – Fava Bean, Tomato, Chorizo


I found some of the mussels to be a little undercooked for me, but I thought this was a pretty solid dish. The chorizo and tomatoes were key elements in the flavorful broth.

Basil Risotto – Escargot, Lemon, Tomato


Unique looking risotto here – the basil gave it a brilliant green color. The risotto was rich and creamy with just enough basil flavor. The escargots were tender, and the lemon provided the right amount of citrus. I really enjoyed this dish.

Seared Foie Gras – Frisee, Rhubarb Pomegranate, Speculoos


I thought this was a beautifully prepared piece of liver. The texture was very rich and melt-in-your-mouth, with the pomegranate adding a little bit of welcome tartness.

Crispy Loup de Mer – Sunchokes Soubise, Crosnes, Salsify, Mushrooms, Bordelaise


This dish signaled the start of the entrees with an impressive presentation of the fish. I found the skin to be perfectly crispy, and the flesh to be really moist. Awesome. The mushrooms were a great accompaniment.

Taglieneri Neri – Maine Lobster, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil


I was really looking forward to the pastas here, and this first one got me excited. The pasta, made with squid ink, was a nice al dente, and the small chunks of sweet lobster were exactly what I wanted. The tomatoes and basil added just a little more flavor to this successful dish.

Lamb Papardelle – Tomato, Olives, Onetik Goat Cheese


The pappardelle was also al dente, and I enjoyed the chunks of meaty lamb dispersed throughout the pasta. The ragu was rich, hearty and pretty flavorful.

Hand Cut Maltagliati – Pork Ragu, Scallion, Gruyére


I enjoyed the rich pork ragu on this pasta as well, but I found the maltagliati pasta to be fairly stuck together. Maybe this was because we took too long taking pictures, as this wasn’t a problem with any other pasta. The scallions added a welcome crispness and freshness.

Bucatini Carbonara – Slow Poached Egg, Pancetta, Parmesan


Loved this dish. Carbonaras can so often be too rich, muddled in an overly-creamy, cheesy sauce. Not so here. The sauce was quite light actually, but didn’t skimp on the flavors of the layered cheese, pancetta and egg. The pasta was perfectly cooked as well. Probably my favorite dish of the night.

Truffle Burger – Onion Fondue, Boschetto, Truffle Aioli


Next was Chef Bailly’s famed truffle burger. This was prepared to a medium-well temperature so I didn’t think it was as juicy as it could’ve been. However, the flavors were all there with the arugula, onions and truffle aioli. The fries were fantastic – crispy on the outside and tender and fluffy on the inside.

Soft Polenta – Wild Mushrooms, Slow Poached Egg


I thought this polenta was nice and creamy, but a bit too overwhelmingly cheesy for me. I always enjoy a slow poached egg, though.

Praline Tiramisu – rum espresso, vanilla bean
Pot De Creme – Manjari Chocolate
Pot De Creme – Caramel


To start of desserts, a selection of pot de cremes and a tiramisu was served. The chocolate pot de creme was my favorite of these – rich with a delicious chocolate flavor.

Chocolate Tart – Tres Leches Gelato, Almond Crumble


I enjoyed this chocolate tart. It was combined with an almond crumble, which lended some texture, and the tres leches gelato was a brilliant flavor of gelato to go along with it. I thought these flavors were pretty well balanced.

Chocolate Coulant – Toffee, Peanut Butter Ice Cream


The peanut butter ice cream really separated this dish for me. Chocolate and peanut butter makes quite a combination, and it worked very well here.

Apple & Pear Clafoutis – Brown Butter, Candied Brioche, Caramel Ice Cream


Finally, this was the last dessert (I think we were all pretty full at this point). I enjoyed the cinnamon and apple flavors here, with the candied brioche being an interesting way to add some texture.

That was a lot of food. Chef Bailly definitely took good care of us (and our stomachs) and provided a good variety of dishes to sample the menu. Given the number of the dishes, there were some that I did not like as much, but overall this was a strongly executed meal that was quite delicious. For me, the pastas were my favorite (the loup de mer was very good too!), and the desserts displayed a nice mix of sweet finishing dishes.

Flour + Water – 11/28/10

Flour + Water
2401 Harrison St
San Francisco, CA 94110

Flour + Water opened last year and quickly became one of the hot restaurants in town for its homemade pizzas and pastas in a “neighborhood” setting. It has been awarded numerous accolades, including Best New Restaurant by SFWeekly and nominated as one of the best new restaurants in the country by James Beard. It’s still very popular, something I realized as I was trying to make a reservation during Thanksgiving weekend. It was booked solid, but we decided to just walk in and wait for a table…however long it took. About half of the restaurant’s seats are not reserved and are available for walk-ins only. Odds should be pretty good, right?

We walked in with a party of 2 and were told the wait would probably be an hour or so. Damn. It was literally almost freezing outside, so we decided to wait it out in the restaurant over a couple of drinks. Just as we were deciding to order, the hostess came up to notify us that someone was a no-show…and we were taking their table! Score!

margherita – tomato, basil, fior di latte, extra virgin olive oil

At a place called “Flour + Water,” a pizza was a must-try. Here we had the margherita. A crispy, thin crust was topped with a sweet tomato sauce and mozzarella. A very good pizza; though, I did prefer Zero Zero’s version, as I thought their flavors were a little more vibrant.

cocoa tajarin with brown butter braised giblets & butternut squash

Of course, some pastas were in order. This was a pretty interesting pasta, as it was made with cocoa. I did taste a subtle cocoa flavor in the pasta, but the deep, meaty ragu was much more pronounced. The corn added a nice sweetness and freshness to this rich dish.

rosemary pappardelle with braised hen, rabe leaves & meyer lemon

One of the best things I ate in 2010, no doubt. Now, I love myself a bowl of good pasta…which is exactly what we had here. First, we had pieces of rosemary speckled throughout the pasta – this gave the pasta a unique look and an interesting way to impart the herb’s flavor. Rosemary can often be overwhelming, but it wasn’t at all here. The hen was tender and succulent, and made for a fantastic bite with the al dente pasta. Finally, some meyer lemon zest added just a little bit of citrus to complete the dish. Amazing!

agnolotti dal plin

A meaty pork shoulder filled these agnolotti. The pasta was cooked a nice al dente, and really packed a lot of flavor with the pork. A light butter-based sauce was a welcome addition.

chocolate budino with espresso-caramel cream & sea salt

This has to be the restaurant’s most well-known dessert. The budino was rich, yet not too thick, with a good chocolate flavor. I especially liked the espresso-caramel cream with the chocolate, and the sea salt was a really nice way to bring out the flavors.

While we were only able to try a few dishes between the two of us, I thought it was a pretty good sample of what the restaurant had to offer. I’d have to say I was impressed. I’m a sucker for good pastas, and here I found them to be imaginative, well-executed and, of course, delicious. The menu is small and changes often, so I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to try the rosemary pappardelle again, but it’s something I will remember for a long time. A return visit is in order.

Drago Centro – 11/18/10

Drago Centro
525 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Given my proximity to the restaurant and my love of their food, I come back to Drago Centro every so often; however, this has recently been only for lunch.I have a love-hate relationship with Drago Centro. I love the food, but the service (especially at dinner) can be…in a word, bad.  My last dinner review again pointed out my often-negative experiences with the service here. My frustrations did not go unnoticed by the restaurant; I was invited back to give dinner another go.

Myself and my dining companion from the last dinner visit, Diana, put our faith in the chef to create a custom tasting menu for us.

Amuse – Fresh Mozzarella with Butternut Squash Puree


The mozzarella is always solid here, and it was accompanied by a little bit of butternut squash puree. I thought it could’ve used more of the puree as the cheese slightly overwhelmed it, but I still got a nice sweetness to go with the creamy cheese.

Langoustine Carpaccio, Bartlett Pears, Yuzu Vinaigrette


We had this same dish during our last visit. The langoustine, pounded thin, was tender and flavorful. The pears imparted a good sweetness, and the citrus and acidity from the vinaigrette was a welcome addition.

Scallops with Ricotta Agnolotti, Cioppino Foam and Brown Butter


This was probably our favorite dish of the night. Drago Centro is my favorite place for an Italian pasta, and this dish only reinforced that. The agnolotti was al dente and the scallop had a great seared crust and moist flesh. There was a little bit of a citrus flavor here too. So good!

Sweetbreads with Garlic Polenta, Veal Jus


The polenta was light and creamy, but the sweetbreads were the star here. Perfectly cooked with a nice seared crust and really tender interior, this was excellent. The richness of the sweetbreads and polenta was complemented by the sweet gastrique.

Venison Loin, Wild Mushroom Risotto, Shaved Black Truffles


The venison was steak-like and meaty and had good flavor that wasn’t overly gamey. The risotto was wonderful; combined with the shaved black truffles, these added a nice earthiness to the dish.

Pastry Chef Jashmine Corpuz presented the next course – a trio of desserts (can’t go wrong with a trio, can you?).

Bombolini, Strawberries, Mascarpone Gelato

Autumnal Cake, Brown Butter Gelato

Tiramisu Cannoli

These were all very good. The bombolini were warm, light and fluffy mini-doughnuts covered in sugar. The strawberries and marscapone gelato were excellent with it. The cake was very moist with good flavors, and I loved the brown butter ice cream pairing. Finally, the cannoli had a light tiramisu cream, which exhibited a rich coffee flavor.

My dining companion had recently seen a dessert that Javier of Teenage Glutster experienced at Drago Centro. It was a spiced hot chocolate with black truffle foam. This looked so interesting, we wanted to try it!

Unfortunately, no black truffle foam was on hand, but we did get a variation of the hot chocolate with our petits fours. Given this wasn’t on the menu, we were grateful that something similar could be put together on the spot.  This was a really rich hot chocolate with some spice and definite ginger notes. I liked that it wasn’t too sweet at all, and at times…almost a little bitter, reminiscent of dark chocolate. I enjoyed it – perfect for the holidays and a great way to end the meal.

In its complete package, this was the best meal I’ve had here. There were numerous highlights from the food, which is always a strong point (the agnolotti, sweetbreads, veal loin and dessert dishes stuck out most).  Service was excellent this time, expectantly so. It remains to be seen if the service can be consistently good going forward, when a special meal is not set up. Having said that, I was pretty happy with my experience this night and look forward to my next meal at Drago Centro.

Note: This was a sponsored dinner.

Scarpetta Beverly Hills – 10/25/10

Scarpetta Beverly Hills
Montage Beverly Hills
225 North Canon Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

sign

Scarpetta is one of the more notable restaurant openings in LA this year, largely because it’s associated with celebrity chef Scott Conant (both as a restaurateur and on TV: Chopped and 24 Hour Restaurant Battle). Scarpetta is Conant’s interpretation of rustic Italian fare with locations already in New York, Miami, Toronto and (soon-to-be) Las Vegas.

One of the things that first turned me on to Scarpetta was seeing Conant demonstrate his version of spaghetti on No Reservations, specifically the “Techniques” episode. It was so simple…fresh pasta, tomatoes, basil, olive oil…yet looked so good. Nevermind that it was $24 for a small plate, I knew I’d have to try it someday. That someday was today, the day Scarpetta Beverly Hills opened up. I joined fellow bloggers Kevin of kevinEats and Tsz of Gastrophoria.

dining room

The dining room is pretty sleek and modern, and actually relatively bright (makes for good food pictures). Shortly after sitting down, bread service began.

bread1bread2bread3bread4

A variety of breads were served, including a crunchy foccaccia, and a delicious and hearty stromboli. These were served with an eggplant caponata, marscapone butter, and a citrus-infused olive oil. These were all quite good – the stromboli, filled with melted cheese and salami, was perfect on its own. For the others, I appreciated the simple citrus-infused olive oil most.

Shortly after bread service, we were offered a place at the kitchen counter – in full view of the kitchen. Yes! We weren’t gonna pass up a seat right in the middle of the action!

kitchen1

kitchen2

We put ourselves in Chef Conant’s hands, letting him choose a tasting menu for us consisting of some of the dishes he was famous for, as well as a few dishes he thought we should try.

Olives Ascolana

stuffed olives

These were fried olives stuffed with beef, veal and pork. Kind of like a meatball – it was juicy and meaty…delish! I appreciated the light crispiness of the exterior as well.

Duo of Crudo – Raw Yellowtail and Tuna “Susci” yellowtail with olio de zenzero & pickled red onion, tuna rolled around marinated vegetables & preserved truffles

yellowtail

tuna sushi

I enjoyed both of these preparations. The tuna was definitely the more interesting, with crisp vegetables inside, and some nice black truffles on top. However, I may have enjoyed the simplicity of the yellowtail even more, with its clean, fresh flavors – it had just enough oil, sea salt and red onion. Both were fantastic bites.

Puree of Pumpkin Soup farro, almonds, spiced croutons, pumpkin oil, black truffles

pumpkin soup1

pumpkin soup2

Perfect for fall, this soup had a nice creamy pumpkin flavor, and wasn’t overly sweet. Rich and hearty, I enjoyed the earthiness of the farro and the black truffles. The almonds added some nice texture to the soup as well.

Autumn Vegetable Salad black trumpet mushrooms, hazelnuts & foie gras emulsion

salad of roasted veggies

Keeping up with the seasonal produce, Chef Conant next presented us with this salad. Acorn squash, butternut squash, carrots and mixed greens were topped with a foie gras emulsion. Interesting. The flavors of foie gras were there, though this was a light dish with crisp greens and creamy squash. The black trumpet mushrooms, cooked down in a foie gras ragu, really added a lot of flavor.

Roasted Sea Scallop caramelized sunchokes & porcini mushrooms, topped with shaved white truffles

<scallop

I really appreciated the progression of dishes, as we were building flavors and entering into richer plates. Here we had a scallop which was really nicely cooked- very tender and moist. The sunchokes really gave a meatiness to this dish, which I quite enjoyed. And hello! White truffles – they’re in season! I love the flavor of white truffles – they instantly make any dish decadent. This was no exception; the earthiness of the truffles, combined with the porcini mushrooms and scallop, gave a surf & turf feel to this dish.

Creamy Polenta fricasse of truffled mushrooms, shaved white truffles

poenta

The white truffle onslaught continued. Here they topped a really nice, creamy polenta. I tasted a mild sweetness from the corn polenta, which went well with the rich and savory mushroom fricasse. Top this with the distinctive flavor of white truffles, and you’ve really got something here!

Spaghetti tomato & basil

spaghetti

This is probably Scarpetta’s most famous dish. It’s beautiful! I love the colors and the piled presentation. And how did it taste? Wonderful. It was really good. The fresh pasta was al dente with a nice chew to them, and the sauce was rich (lots of butter and oil!), though not overly sweet nor acidic. The fresh basil rounded everything out. This pasta dish lives up to the hype.

Chestnut and Short Rib Agnolotti

agnolotti

Only two pieces here, but they were rich and dense. I enjoyed the crispy chestnuts and the al dente pasta. The short rib filling was expectedly flavorful – and the beef jus brought even more flavor into these few bites.

Chef Conant plating our next course.

kitchen3

Roasted Duck Breast heirloom parsnips, raisin mostarda, lentils

duck

Beautiful. The duck was tender and cooked perfectly. The raisins brought a complementary sweetness, while the mostarda added just a little bit of heat. Loved the interplay of these flavors.

Aged Sirloin of Beef roasted baby potatoes, porcini mushrooms, barolo reduction, shaved white truffles

steak

More white truffles?! Oh man. No one’s complaining here. The steak was tender and flavorful, while shaved Parmiggiano Reggiano added a nice saltiness and nuttiness. The white truffles actually complemented the beefy flavors really well, and were a nice touch. Excellent.

Cheese savory biscotti

cheese

biscotti

Next we had the cheese course. Now, I’m never a big fan of the cheese course. However I did like the Parmigianno Reggiano (far right) with the balsamic vinegar, as well as the creamy Le Tour (second from right) paired with the sweet pineapple chutney. I enjoyed the savory biscotti for their crunchiness and mild herbal flavor.

Next, finally, we were ready for dessert.

Rum Pineapple Cake & Vanilla Flan

dessert1

First, this was a really nice flan. Macerated berries accompanied the vanilla custard, which I thought brought a nice fresh, fruity flavor to go along. The other dessert had layers of cake and custard – I thought the cake itself was a bit dry. I enjoyed the sweetness of the pineapple and the mild rum flavor, though.

Amaretto Flan spiced roasted pumpkin & marsala zabaglione gelato

dessert2

Loved this dessert! The flan, very smooth, had just a nice almond liqueur flavor. The marsala zabaglione added to this richness, but with a nice sweetness that paired well. The spiced roasted pumpkin bits added some nice texture to this plate.

This was an impressive meal. None of the dishes disappointed (especially the spaghetti, of which I had really high expectations). From start to finish, I thought the courses were very strong and well-executed. I’ll be honest, this meal ended up costing much more than I had anticipated walking in ($500 all-in, about a third  from alcohol – you’ll have to see Kevin’s post for that), but we did end up having a much more elaborate menu full of seasonal white and black truffles, while experiencing much of what the restaurant has to offer. Plus it’s not every day that you can have Chef Conant himself serving you each dish, something I really enjoyed experiencing. I expect Scarpetta, which looked to have a full house on its first night, to continue to draw people in to experience some really good food.

Drago Centro – 10/9/10

Drago Centro
525 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90071

For me, Drago Centro is consistently one of the most frustrating dining experiences. The frustration doesn’t stem from the food (it’s consistently fantastic) but rather from the consistently poor service. Since it’s opened, I’ve probably dined here close to a dozen times. The food continues to bring me back (and the fact that I work and live downtown), but the service, at times, can be downright mediocre. For a number of my meals, the service has overshadowed the strong food.

Occasionally, I wonder whether I’m getting less attention from the waitstaff because I’m a relatively younger diner. The best service I’ve had here was coincidentally one with my parents. Other meals have seen a dessert with bacon bits served to a pescetarian diner (as part of a fish-only tasting menu), forgetting to serve the wine pairings accompanying the tasting menu, and a weekday lunch that took 2.5 hours.

On this night, I felt that our main server seemed almost…unhappy to serve us from start to finish. Not once did he follow up on any of the dishes to ask how they were, and I don’t recall any “thank yous” throughout the meal. There weren’t even any apologies when someone forgot to serve us the amuse bouche. In my opinion, Drago Centro serves one-star Michelin worthy food, but the service lags far behind.

Enough bickering, on to the food:

il carpaccio di langostino langoustine carpaccio, pears, yuzu vinaigrette

This dish was a very light starter. The langoustine was pounded thin – the sweetness of the pears and the acidity from the yuzu vinaigrette made this a successful dish.

le pappardelle al fagiano pappardelle, roasted pheasant, morel mushrooms

This was probably one of my favorite dishes of 2009. When I first had this dish, one of Drago’s signature pastas, I marveled at the chewy, eggy ribbons of pasta and the rich ragu filled with shreds of pheasant. This is still a great pasta even if I’ve had it a number of times.

Next came the amuse bouche. While we were eating our first courses, the neighboring table was presented with this dish. Naturally, we were confused and annoyed. When we inquired as to this dish, our waiter responded with “oh, they must’ve missed you.”

Salted cod croquette with herb aioli

A crispy exterior added some crunch to the bite, with the salt cod adding a mild fish flavor. The herb aioli rounded it out with some acidity and herbal flavor to add some depth.

il branzino branzino, cioppino broth, potato, seafood ragout

My previous experience with branzino here was carved tableside. It looks like they no longer do this, but the fish is still an excellent preparation. The flesh is moist and flaky, while the skin is crispy. A seafood broth filled with mussels, clams and shrimp adds some depth of flavor. I still think La Botte has my favorite branzino preparation, however.

la quaglia sausage stuffed quail, polenta, fall vegetable ragout

This dish somewhat reminds me of a stuffed squab my grandmother makes each Thanksgiving. Fennel sausage is stuffed into the cavity of the quail – the flavors of the sausage and quail combined is quite delicious. The quail was cooked a little more than I would’ve liked, as I thought it could’ve been even more moist and juicy if it was a little rarer. However, still a very nice and flavorful bird.

We passed on dessert, partially due to time constraints and partially due to the fact that we just weren’t happy with this experience.

I will be back to Drago Centro. Put simply, it’s very convenient for me and I love the food. However, my visits will likely be limited to lunchtime and service at the bar for the time being. The service in the dining room has been just way too frustrating for me – enough to easily detract from the experience. If the service could match the food, this likely would be one of my favorite restaurants in the city.

Osteria Mozza – 9/26/10

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038

napkin holder

A concept by restaurateur Joseph Bastianich, celebrity chef Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton of La Brea Bakery fame, Osteria Mozza serves a more upscale Italian meal than its sister pizzeria. However, both have been very popular since their inception a few years ago.

My family is a pretty big fan of Pizzeria Mozza, and we’ve had some good meals at Bastianich/Batali’s offerings in Las Vegas and New York. So, a dinner at Osteria Mozza was a must-try.

The menu is extensive, offering a variety of appetizers including a wide array of fresh mozzarella dishes. There are enough pastas to appease anyone, and the entrees are heavy on the meat, with some fish options. We started off with a treat from the kitchen.

Fresh ricotta, black olive tapenade on crostini

amuse

The ricotta started strong with a preview of the excellent cheeses served here. The flavors were good, and the olive tapenade, which can sometimes be overpowering, was not.

Tripe alla Parmigiana

tripe

The tripe had a very supple texture, tender and not at all chewy. You don’t get a ton of flavor from the tripe; much of it comes from the spicy tomato-based sauce. It was just right for me, but others in the party thought it was too spicy.

Burrata with speck, pickled shallots & pane pomodoro

burrata

I love Mozza’s burrata – creamy and smooth yet light, it’s complemented well with the saltiness of the speck and acidity of the pickled shallots.

Bufala Mozzarella with prosciutto di Parma

bufala prosciutto

This was a pretty simple, classic combination. Each component was good on its own, yet having both the cheese and proscuitto in each bite was even better.

Caprese with bufala mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil

caprese

Mozza’s take on the standard caprese did not involve any molecular gastronomic tricks – they keep it simple and with tradition, showcasing their mozzarella and some great tomatoes.

Coach Farm Goat Cheese Ravioli with five lilies

ravioli

When this dish came out, it looked pretty damn good. Its flavors did not let me down with its al dente pasta and delicate, smooth filling. Delicious.

Orecchiette with sausage & Swiss chard

orecchiette

This was probably my favorite pasta of the night. The pasta, similar to the others, was cooked perfectly with a nice chew. The sausage was delicious as well, and the breadcrumbs added a terrific crunchy bite.

Tagliatelle with oxtail ragu

oxtail ragu

The meaty ragu, with chunks of oxtail, worked well with the flat tagliatelle pasta. The tomato-based sauce was rich with a deep, meaty flavor.

Agnolotti burro e salvia

agnolotti

These agnolotti were filled with a variety of meats (including chicken and mortadella). The smooth filling and pasta resulted in a good bite each time.

Pan Roasted Pork Loin with fagioli alla Castelluccio

pork loin

The pork here was surprisingly tender and very juicy. The flavor was very good as well. The beans, adding a bit of starch to the dish, were a welcome addition.

Duck al Mattone with pear mostarda & corn

duck

Here we had half of a duck, fried quite well with a crispy skin. The pear mostarda was crucial to add another dimension of flavor and some sweetness, though this was not my favorite dish.

Grilled Quail wrapped in pancetta with sage & honey

quail

The quail was exceptional, juicy and tender, with just enough smoky grill flavor. The pancetta and herbs were just enough to complement the flavors without overwhelming the quail.

Veal Breast Stracotto with carrots

veal

The veal was exceedingly tender, succulent and tasted quite good.

Grilled Beef Tagliata rucola & Parmigiano with aceto balsamico

steak

The beef, in this case hanger steak, was cooked a nice medium rare. However, its flavor wasn’t quite as exciting as some of the previous courses.

To go with our entrees, we split three side dishes:

Polenta with Parmigiano Reggiano

polenta

The polenta was creamy and smooth. Not a ton of flavor here though, I probably could’ve used a little more salt. The cheese wasn’t too apparent in the dish, either.

Sauteed wild spinach with crisp garlic

spinach

The sauteed spinach was solid, while the strips of fried garlic added a little bit of texture and garlic flavor.

Fried potatoes with rosemary

potatoes

I really enjoyed these potatoes. They were smashed and fried to a crisp with some rosemary. Crisp on the outside, with a soft and fluffy center, these had the perfect consistency.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for dessert since my family had a flight to catch. My favorites from past visits have been the bombolini and rosemary olive oil cakes. This was another well-executed meal here at Mozza; the dishes have just enough excitement to keep them interesting, while not overwhelming less-experimental diners. The strengths continue to be at the mozzarella bar and pastas, though the entrees hold their own. It’s easy to see why the restaurant has been popular ever since opening.