My love affair with the themed dinners at Mozza's Scuola di Pizza continues.
This month is "Beef of Tuscany" on Friday nights and I am still savoring the memory of all the amazing beef courses I ate this past Friday with a fabulous group of my co-workers.
Manzo Toscano Menu
Nancy Silverton's famous foccacia bread is served at the beginning of every meal at Scuola di Pizza. They are delicious but be careful not to eat too many slices and get full before your real meal begins.
Our first course was a nice vegetable antipasto to fulfill our vegetable servings for the day before the carnivore feast begins. You can also say it assuage the guilt some of us felt for enjoying so much meat in one meal.
I don't usually like raw vegetables but this salty anchovy dressing made all the vegetables go down smooth like a spoonful of sugar.
As we ate our vegetable antipasto, a lot of use couldn't help stealing glances at the cured meat locker off to the side of the dining room, by the kitchen. It was like the salami and sausages were calling out to us.
This beef tartare paired with slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano and artichokes on top of a crispy bruschetta bread was a favorite of many at our table of 22. A tangy vinaigrette offset the richness of the cheese. I liked it but my favorites came later in the meal.
Breve Costoletta Alla Griglia
These thin-sliced short ribs (like the kalbi you'd find at Korean BBQ) had a very tangy marinade and they were best balanced with the salsa verde that came with it.
Coda Alla Vaccinara
These oxtails were amazing! For the first time, in a restaurant, I was served a whole oxtail that was braised perfectly; just the way I've always wanted it. Every savory bite of the fork-tender meat mixed with the stickiness of the bits of soft cartilage from the joints of the tail bones confirmed my conviction that a lot of Americans are missing out on this delicious and underutilized part of the cow.
The oxtails had a lot of meat and being able to tear chunks of it off the a whole tail was a satisfaction that's rarely fulfilled for me unless I cook it myself. I don't really care for dishes with deboned, shredded oxtail. It's too "clean" and the shredded meat is often dry. I miss the cartilage which I think enhances the flavor and keeps the meat moist.
The carnage of tail bones on my plate.
I think I ate more oxtail than anyone at the table. I was not shy about breaking the tail at the joints and giving each piece my individual attention. I really wish more restaurants would serve oxtail and do it justice. Please, no more dry shredded oxtail tapas or lame oxtail soup that only has a sliver of oxtail meat in it.
These three amazing hunks of Porterhouse greeted us as we arrived at the dinner. Each steak was about as thick as the width of three fingers. They were already cooked and just resting until it was time to be served. My anticipation was very high.
Steak Monuments? Steaks of Liberty?
Our final course deserves the utmost respect and admiration from all carnivores.
I think this might be the best steak I've ever eaten, beating my favorite ribeye at The Hitching Post in Buellton and definitely beating all the $50 steaks I've ever paid for from LA to NYC. Every component was perfect. It was a juicy medium-rare. The meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender with well-marbled fat. Most importantly, the meat was seasoned thoroughly with a coarse salt and porcini rub the previous day so the flavors from the high quality beef and the seasoning was just bursting in every bite. Our chef, Chad Colby, said salting the steak the previous day is actually okay and it won't dry the meat out. He said salt early and salt often for great flavor. I was always told that salting too early would dry out the steak but I'll give this a try at home soon.
Like the Heritage Pork dinner previously, everyone was bursting at the seams by the end of the last savory course but not surprisingly, everyone had a special dessert pocket. I love this creamy rice gelato. I'm seriously wishing they serve this regularly at the Mozza Restaurants and also package it for Mozza2Go. Better yet, they should have local grocery stores carry it so we can all enjoy this anytime.
Torta Di Polenta
This moist polenta cake was topped with roasted hazelnuts and slivers of almonds. When I read polenta, my mind immediately jumped to yellow corn and I was dubious to this dessert's delicious meter but I should not have doubted Mozza. Their pastry chef did a fantastic job with this cake and luckily, this one is sold at Mozza2Go.
This was another fantastic meal at the Mozza restaurants. I can't make it to Italy this year so having this little bit of Italy brought to me is the next best thing. I can't wait to go again next month when they're featuring the "Best of 2010."
By the way, this is actually my third themed dinner at Scuola di Pizza. I had the Heritage Pork dinner first, and then two weeks ago, another group of co-workers invited me to join their Veneto-themed dinner. (I have some lovely co-workers.) I stupidly forgot my camera at that dinner and the pictures from my phone were very dark. I loved the huge plates of prosciutto, giant prawn calamari, sea urchin risotto and the braised beef tongue at that Veneto dinner. The Veneto dinner also featured the Riso Gelato and Torta di Polenta so I was very happy to see it again at this Tuscany meal.
However, of the three themed dinners I've tried so far, the Heritage Pork is still my top favorite (every course of that dinner was a winner for me). This "Beef of Tuscany" was very close to being the top favorite on the strength of the oxtail and porterhouse steak but I didn't really love the kalbi short rib. If you're looking for an amazing meal, check out the Scuola di Pizza's calendar and book your seats before the dinners are sold out.
Scuola di Pizza
6610 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
**Tip: A lot of people are confused by how many Mozza restaurants there are on the corner of Melrose Ave. and Highland Ave. Sitting on Highland Ave. is Pizzeria Mozza which is where the valet for all the Mozza restaurants are. Osteria Mozza is right on the corner of Melrose and Highland. Mozza2Go is next to Osteria Mozza, on Melrose Ave. Scuola di Pizza is a small, private space for cooking classes, tastings and themed dinners and the entrance is hidden inside of Mozza2Go. Cool?