Mr. Monkey said he had an anniversary surprise for me that required ample time to enjoy, so I made an early reservation at Osteria Mozza to accommodate his surprise.
Osteria Mozza may have a Michelin star, but it's the opposite of stuffy and staid. Lots of patrons arrive in jeans, albeit Hollywood-approved jeans. This is the corner of Melrose and Highland after all. Mr. Monkey looked comfortable in one of his many Ben Sherman shirts. He lives in those things. I think he thinks it's his upscale casual dining uniform.
The brainchild of Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joseph Bastianich, Osteria Mozza serves sophisticated yet comforting Italian food in a loud and bustling environment.
And that's what we did. We saw the Pasta Tasting Menu ($69), and it was decided.
Great beginning with the amuse bouche.
Nice little taste of the restaurant's specialty -- mozzarella!
Before we began our fancy carbo-loading, we inhaled the grilled octopus with potatoes, celery, and lemon ($18).
As we ate this, there was a whole lotta "Ohmygod-ing" and "mmm-ing" and "ooh-ing." You must get this. Must. So beautifully charred and meaty and balanced with a light tartness. Dare I say it? Woohoo!
Don't worry. As much as everything deserved it, I will stop with the Woohoo! now.
Ok, a couple more. Woohoo! Woohoo! Seriously, guys. This octopus was incredible.
On to the precious pasta!
Farfalle with noci and morels.
What a delight! Emphasis on the light! The farfalle was so delicate and lovely, and the mushrooms (I ate both mine and Mr. Monkey's) were amazingly flavorful. That's saying a lot, coming from a girl who, for her wedding, proclaimed, "There shall be no fungus among us!"
Ravioli di burrata with caperi e pomodorini.
I can't even begin to tell you how lip-smackingly good this was. It may have been the best cheese ravioli I've ever had. The burrata just went on and on and on. And so did I about the dish throughout the night. Mr. Monkey declared, "It's so rich!" Deliriously happy.
Garganelli verde with ragu Bolognese.
Pretty yummy, but not so yummy to warrant incoherent raving.
Francobolli di brasato with passato di pomodoro.
So. Stuffed. With. Meat. Like fully. And not just any meat. A scrumptious smoky beef filling that totally took over the thin postage-stamp-like pasta. Fabulous.
Pici with duck ragu.
Monkey want a quacker! It's hard to say whether the duck pici or the burrata ravioli was my fave of the night. The pici was a tasty chewy thicker cousin of spaghetti. The duck was tender and damn near ambrosial. Even better, there was plenty of it. Mr. Monkey remarked, "They gave us a lot of duck!" Yes, they did. Thank you. Thank you.
Gelatina di fragola e prosecco.
Palate cleanser or light dessert? Either way, very enjoyable. Can you see the thin layer of gelatin on the plate? I didn't until I actually dug in! And it was made with prosecco!
Crespelle di frutti di bosco and gelato di fragola.
Our server wished us a happy anniversary, and we each got a candle on our final dish. Aww, how cute. An Italian crepe with cream and custard and gelato and fruit and candied nuts? Was there even a possibility that we wouldn't like this? The many textures and different types of sweetness were just a joy to eat. Superb ending to a superb meal.
Needless to say, we had a marvelous time at Osteria Mozza.
But wait! There's more!
Here's the surprise -- a Huge Room (yes, that's what it's called) at The Standard Hotel downtown. Usual price? $325. Mr. Monkey's price? $99. The travel ninja strikes again! Happy anniversary indeed!
And this was just Third Anniversary Celebration #1....