[dropcap size=small]W[/dropcap]hat differentiates a very good restaurant from the rest is what its staff offer during the “gap” moments of a meal. We’re glad this Italian-American import fills in these gaps expertly.
Service is on point from the moment we step over the threshold into Osteria Mozza’s transplanted interior full of dark wood decor. “Your dining companion has just stepped away”, the server takes care to inform me. Noticing the lack of sleeves on my outfit, she adds: “If you’re feeling chilly, I can bring you a scarf.” And as the chair is pulled out, she asks: “Can I offer you a drink while you’re waiting? Let me bring you the [Aperitivi] menu.” While I busy myself with the half-A4-sized cocktail menu, Regina – our stellar server – returns with a scarf and a bag hook, and checks if we have any allergies she should take note of.
This detail-oriented service continues throughout the meal. Despite the restaurant being at full capacity, the service staff of 13 makes sure warm breads (most of them made at La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles and flown over twice weekly) are constantly offered to each of the 72 guests, and water glasses are never empty. They also set down two extra side plates once our starters touch the table.
We start off with the seasonal negroni – a delicate riff on the classic, this one is made with fennel pollen-infused gin. The meal then kicks into gear with the texture- rich chargrilled octopus, served on potatoes and a sharply dressed salad – “We recommend you have them all in one bite,” Regina adds. Once the celery root cappellacci is served (thoughtfully split into two by the kitchen), restaurant manager Mimi stops by to chat about the dish.
We notice that she manages to visit almost every table in the restaurant.
Conversations initiated by the staff are always timely and smooth. These and other little touches elevate our experience of the food, so that savouring the petite hat-shaped pasta – all 16 pieces of it – becomes a more personal, treasured experience.
Interactions aside, the commanding bone marrow pie shows that Osteria Mozza is capable of pulling out all the stops off and on the plate: the rich pastry for two ravenous souls comes with a hunk of bone marrow in the middle, dramatically spiked with a long metal spoon.
By the end of the meal, we are pleasantly full on interactions, conversation, food and drink. That’s exactly the state restaurants – Italian ones, especially – should leave us in.