While the recession hasn’t treated restaurants very kindly, it has rewarded those who like to dine out. With expense accounts shrinking and disposable incomes drying up too, restaurants are doing their darnedest to woo in penny-pinching eaters. Free glasses of wine, discounted meals, and appetizers on the house are a few of the tactics employed by eateries to weather the storm. Sometimes the deals being offered are so incredibly good (See: Blackboard Eats and Groupon) that I feel almost guilty taking advantage of them. Obviously, not guilty enough to stay home.
One of the best bang-for-your-buck deals in town is the $35 three-course menu at Osteria Mozza‘s Amaro Bar. My girl D takes a B turned me on to this special offer last September. Served Sunday through Thursday, the menu includes one item from Nancy Silverton’s Mozzarella Bar, one pasta, a dessert, and a glass of either Bastianich Friulano or La Mozza Morellino di Scansano.
Since reservations aren’t taken for the Amaro Bar, The Astronomer and I strolled in at nearly half past eight on a Thursday evening. The restaurant was buzzing when we arrived, with boisterous and well dressed diners occupying every single seat and stool. We were seated after a forty-five minute wait, just as the maitre d predicted.
Chilled glasses of Bastianich Friulano were definitely in order. I like wine from a box, I like wine with a fox—Mr. Bastianich’s wine was more than fine.
All Osteria Mozza diners, even those looking for a discounted meal at the bar, are served toasted crostini smeared with fresh ricotta and topped with an olive tapenade, basil, and Tuscan olive oil to start. Crusty slices of La Brea Bakery bread are included too.
My first official course was the burricotta with radicchio, spiced walnuts, honey, and fried rosemary ($15). The radicchio was too bitter for my tastes, so I ate it separately on the side. The combination of honey, cheese, and candied walnuts may have been overly rich and sweet for some, but it was totally perfect for me. Fried rosemary rules.
The Astronomer ordered the burrata with bacon, marinated escarole, and caramelized shallots ($15). He liked the flavors very much, but it didn’t bring on the fireworks like the burricotti with braised artichokes, pine nuts, currants, and mint pesto ($15) did on our previous visit.
The Astronomer went with the tagliatelle with oxtail ragu ($19) for his main course. The handmade noodles were delicate and delectable, as was the savory stewed sauce that clung to them.
My meat-stuffed agnolotti with butter and sage ($19) were so very rich and satisfying that I sighed after each bite. The fried sage was simply delightful, as it always is. The small portion proved to be a blessing; I have my limits when it comes to butter.
For dessert, The Astronomer chose the fried-to-order Italian doughnuts—bombolini—with mountain huckleberry compote and vanilla gelato ($12). It provided the perfect finish for my doughnut-loving companion.
I went with the apple borsellino with apple cider jelly gelato, whipped cream, candied apple slices, and caramel sauce ($11). The dessert was similar to a slice of pie a la mode, but far fancier and flakier. The paper thin slices of candied apples begged to be eaten with my fingers.
A down economy is much more bearable with delicious deals like this one around. Go grab a seat at the Amaro Bar, pronto.
6602 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038