Above: The mozzarella sampler with scamorza, burrata, and classic mozzarella di bufala.
Last week, while I was visiting Los Angeles and tasting wines for the new list we’ll debut at Sotto in a few weeks, the owners of the restaurant (where my bromance Rory and I have been writing the list for nearly three years) offered to buy dinner for Rory and me as a thank you for the success of our program.
There are so many great places to eat in LA these days as the restaurant and wine scenes continue to expand and explode.
But Rory and I both wanted to go Osteria Mozza. In part because the Bastianich-Batali-Silverton collaboration is a great restaurant (and a celebrity sighting is nearly guaranteed). But mostly because it’s one of the favorite hangs of the Italian wine scene there (the night we were there importer Vinity was hosting a vertical tasting of one of my favorite expressions of Nerello by Palari and the estate’s winemaker Salvatore Geraci was speaking in the private dining room).
Above: Sperino’s rosé from Nebbiolo, another example of how Nebbiolo is one of the world’s greatest grape varieties.
The food was awesome, of course.
But the thing that really blew Rory and me away was the truly superb wine service. From the waiter who pointed us to some sparkling wine as soon as we were seated to the floor sommelier whose wine service was nearly impeccable, we were thrilled with caliber of the restaurant’s execution and the stunning breadth of the wine list.
When I noted the many new vertical flights that now appear on the all-Italian list, general manager David Rosoff — my good friend and one of the most talented people in the LA restaurant scene — told me that “instead of broadening the list” to incorporate more wines from more regions of Italy, wine director David Vaughn’s approach has been to achieve “more depth.”
There were so many wines that I would have loved to have drunk that night.
Above: I’ve followed the wines of Roagna for nearly fifteen years now and I’ve watched the style evolve from the classic, intensely tannic style of the father to the more elegant — but equally genuine — hand of the son, who’s transformed the winery into one of Langa’s most significant expressions of chemical-free farming.
But we ended up doing the 500ml 2002 Oslavje by Radikon (drinking so well right now, one of the best bottles I’ve ever had from this vintage), a glass of the rosé from Nebbiolo by Lessona producer Sperino (chosen by David Rosoff, a favorite of his and mine), and the 2005 Barolo La Pira by Roagna (which showed stunning elegance and nuance and was a lot more approachable than I imagined it would be, considering its youth).
Great wine service adds so much to the experience of fine dining.
But our evening at Mozza also made me reflect on how wine professionalism is swiftly evolving in our country, with Mozza as one of its beacons for Italian wine.
The staff’s attitude and performance spoke to me, as if saying, we express our respect for the wonderful mosaic of Italian wines through our smart dress, informed and intelligent service, and keen interest in them. That respect — that reverence — added a brilliance to our experience.
We’ve come a long way from the ice-cold Garganega and the straw-flasked Sangiovese, haven’t we?
Chapeau bas, David R. and team! I enjoyed every moment of my dinner in your (literally) super restaurant.