I first went to Okiba in Rome, about 4 years ago. I thought this place had a great concept: just about everything comes with your own ball of fresh mozzarella. This small chain has recently opened in Century City, with a second LA location in the Beverly Center on its way. In an interview I read with Nancy Silverton, owner of Pizzaria Mozza and Osteria Mozza she said she got the idea for the Osteria’s mozzarella bar from a restaurant in Rome. I am sure it was Obika.
All of the mozzarella is certified mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP (Denomination of Protected Origin by the European Union). They have several started, pastas, mozzarella rolls, and salads, but the centerpiece of the menu is the mozzarella bar. Pick a mozzarella (classic, smoked, or burrata) and an accompaniement (prosciutto di san daniele, caponata, arichokes, salmon, and much more) and try not to get too stuffed. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. We started off with their mixed bread basket, served with your own bottle of extra virgin olive oil to pour to your hearts content.
As you may know, we loved fried stuff, so we had to get the fritto misto, and mozzarella en carozza. The fritto misto had breaded and fried mozzarella pieces, fried artichoke leaves, and little fried balls, possibly polenta and herbs. The mozzarella en carozza is a slice of mozzarella sandwiched in between two layers of bread, then breaded and fried. What were we thinking?
Time for our “main” courses. Essentially the whole menu is a bunch appetizers. Cheese, meats, breads, salads and pastas. We choose the handmade spinach and ricotta ravioli. Served with butter, sage and parmesean (a nice break from all the mozzarella) they were delicate and wonderful.
Our other entree to share was the burrata with prosciutto do san daniele, ham and salame. They initially brought us the smoked mozzarella by accident, but then swiftly brought out our burrata. Here in Los Angeles we have a company that makes excellent burrata – but this one from campana was just a step better. The outer layer of mozzarella was thiner, with finer curds in the center. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if we didn’t have such rich appetizers.
I liked the short, all Italian wine list (half-off glasses of wine in the afternoon before 7PM) and service was quick and friendly. The chairs are slightly uncomfortable and impossible to hang a purse on and the tables for two way too small for all the plates and glasses, candle, etc. Everything was really good, just a tad under salted, but that is easy to fix. Next time I am sitting at the bar, ordering only 1 or 2 dishes, before 7PM, and savoring every bite.
Century City Shopping Center