Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mangiare In Famiglia

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, while clutching my somewhat distended belly, I wondered -- who the hell do I think I am? Who in their right mind eats five courses of pork in one sitting?

No one with an ounce of sense would do something so gluttonous and potentially dangerous!

Unless you're a true foodie, a fan of eating nose to tail, or a devout member of the cult of Nancy Silverton.




If you've checked all three, pick up the phone and call 323-297-1133 to reach Mozza2Go and the Scuola Di Pizza. You'll want to reserve a spot on a Friday or Saturday night or Sunday at lunchtime for Mangiare In Famiglia.

This festive family-style dining experience is one of the most exciting meals I've had in Los Angeles in a long time. Silverton takes the notion of nose to tail cooking and spins it, asking her diners to eat it all in one sitting.

Fridays are a Feast of Five Feathers, featuring duck, quail, pheasant, guinea hen, and chicken. If you've been reading along, you know that was not in the cards for me, because A. won't touch our feathered friends -- none of them.

Good news! Saturdays are Pork, and they feature some of the very best pigs around, Heritage USA Berkshire pigs. We partook heartily.

But not to worry, if you don't roll with the swine. Sunday lunch features beef in the style of Tuscany. From what the marvelous chef and charcuterie master, Chad Colby told me, diners on Sunday would be lunching on tartar, bone marrow, braised oxtails, short ribs, and four-pound porterhouses.

I saw the meat myself, and folks, it looked like the most exquisite heart attack waiting to happen.

We ate the pig. Happily.

The whole affair takes place in the Scuola di Pizza that is tucked in between Mozza2Go and Osteria Mozza. The room is large and the ceilings high. There is a large rectangular table running the length of the room that cozily fits twenty-two. Behind that the open kitchen runs the length of the back of the room.

Oh, to cook in a space like that! The impossibly high BTUs stove top! The grill! The gorgeous marble counter tops! And most of all the wood burning pizza oven!

The festivities began at 7:30 with a hearty welcome from the affable Mozza staff, a glass of Prosecco, and the suggestion to mingle with the other guests.

Make yourself comfortable. Take any seat you like.

A wedge of absolutely unreal onion focaccia followed directly. Being offered food and drink immediately upon arrival is the mark of a good host or hostess. Clearly, Nancy Silverton knows how to entertain.

I must dwell on the focaccia for just another moment. The crisp crack of the crust followed by its glorious chewiness was brilliant. The sweet onions and slight olive oiliness leave you embarrassingly grasping for words like heavenly and perfection.

Damn you, Silverton!

The anticipation was overwhelming. We all knew we were in for something remarkably unique. Nancy Silverton and Chad Colby, the man splendidly running the show while Silverton saw to Osteria Mozza, spoke with us enthusiastically about what was in store.

No one could have guessed at the generosity of the first course.

The Salumi e Paté Nostrano course was outrageous -- easily a whole meal of charcuterie in itself. Included were such gems as salame and Parmigiano-Reggiano, slightly funky (in a great way!) liver paté wrapped in caul fat with spicy mustard, ham with horseradish, and a beautiful vegetal head cheese. All perfect with the grilled bread served alongside.

But these crazy people didn't stop there. We were offered boards of coppa, bowls of pickled green and yellow beans and shallots, and marinated summer squash with garlic, all to be passed around.

The ciccioli was what Colby referred to as pork butter. Ridiculous! All the softness of butter and fat were present, but with the flavor of pure pig. It is very similar to the French rillettes, just a whole lot smoother.

And were those fried pieces of bread?!? A lesson in decadence.

The thing is though, that you absolutely do not want more than a little bit of any of this. A modest taste of each is all we had, but I swear we were already filling up.

With four more courses of pork to go!

The Mozza folks are skilled at pacing, giving us just the right amount of time to recover without letting us get anxious about when the next installment would arrive.

The second course was Salsiccia Fresca. The fresh sausage was served with grilled broccolini. Very smart to serve the plump, fatty sausages with the contrasting charred and slightly bitter broccolini. Not only did the broccolini provided a bit of relief, it knocked our socks off. Our entire end of the table was a-buzz about recreating it at home.

That is not to say that the sausages were anything but delicious. Their juiciness burst in your mouth, making you so sorry that you couldn't eat more.

The smart folks held back.

There were actually two sausages offered -- the regular and then my favorite -- the sausage with liver. One bite of the livery sausage sent me right back to my childhood. It must have been a memory of eating liverwurst. Fantastic!

Up next, something light -- Soffiata Di Parmigiano-Reggiano with Ragù di maiale.

Ahem, maybe not so much. That's Parmigiano-Reggiano soufflé with pork ragu, to you!

This course was sublime. Soft, warm, luscious. Everything you'd want to warm you on a chilly autumn evening, but yet absolutely desirable in the middle of summer.

It took an assembly line of men to plate this course. Slicing into these lofty soufflés required absolute focus. A light hand with the ladle was necessary for the saucing. And a quick flick of the wrist scattered the Parmigiano-Reggiano over all.

The course that followed was the epitome of how I like to eat. The Arrostito Spalla Di Maiale was an absurdly beautiful roast shoulder of pork served with a chicory salad. Rich roast meat with a bracing salad is the stuff of deep longing.

Oh, pork shoulder! I adore you!

The shoulder is a fatty cut of meat that yields the most succulent results. This was no exception -- salty, unctuous and divine.

Just look at that roast!

The bite of the emerald salsa verde was an exceptional counterpoint to the sweet pork. I liked that this particular salsa verde was very heavy on the parsley. The flavor provided a clean green lift to the swine.

Our final pork course was Costelleto Di Maiale with cippolini al forno. As you might expect, this was not your run of the mill pork chop with roasted onions. Not by a long shot.

Please notice the girth of these chops.

They sat perched upon their porcine post gloating at us throughout the meal, waiting for the finishing fire before joining the sticky sweet alliums on our plate -- the pig's final hurrah!

Chef Colby was kind enough to let us know that of the entire pig his favorite bit was the fat near the bone on these chops. That announcement sparked a spontaneous group gnaw on the bones-o.

A nibble then pass to the right!

No doubt about it. This is family dining!

The chops were liberally dusted with fennel pollen. I bought a tin of this powdered gold, when I first purchased Silverton's A Twist of the Wrist. The pollen has an earthy flavor that comes close to capturing the essence of wild fennel. Perfect with the moist meat.

Exhausted and full as never before, I didn't think I would have the stomach to try the Gelati E Sorbetti, let alone the coconut almond biscotti. But a funny thing happens when you've been gorging on such culinary mastery.

You can't help yourself.

You dive head first into the vat of plum, greek yogurt, and fruit of the woods gelato and sorbet. And the plum! Oh, my. It smacks you in the face with a plum flavor that is almost more pure than biting into the most luscious Santa Rosa.

I have no idea how they did that.

This epic experience costs $75 a person without wine. There are five wines to choose from running from $48 - $85. Or you may select one of three beers on the menu, all priced at $7.

You will likely have spent a fair amount of money once you're through at the Scuola, but in the end this feels like the best deal in town. And although it took us until Monday to fully recover, I cannot recommend Mangiare In Famiglia enough.

Mozza2Go/Scuola Di Pizza
6610 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036



OakMonster said...

I'm so jealous! I was looking at this program when I saw it in the LA Times. Fun!

Shay said...

Brava! Thanks for the pictures and post, it was a glorious evening indeed.

FoodieBear said...

Seriously, this looks so amazing! You've done an amazing job sharing your experience!

Im checking the website daily for October dinners.. they wont post them till 2 weeks out, though I have high hopes of getting a reservation!

They didn't mind you taking photos? Or did you get permission before hand?

jacqueline f. said...



They were incredibly awesome about letting me take pictures. I took about 150! I didn't have permission beforehand. They were just very very easy going.

J said...

Thanks do seeing your post on chowhound, I finally got a reservation for October.

I got to enjoy the "pork" last night, wow ... what an experience. It all was so very good, but if I had to choose my absolute favorite, it would be the pork shoulder or the souffle. All so very good though. Thanks again!

FoodieBear said...

I'm so excited, 5 of us are going tonight! You give be inspiration to pace myself. Yay!!