Mamma’s Italian Kitchen just off Melrose.
One of the things that you get used to in working at a Movie Studio is the availability of decent and cheap food options. This is especially important if, like me, you are a cubicle jockey, and going to the Executive Dining Room every day is not an option. Work at Fox, and you can walk over to the Century Plaza for their eatery. Work at Warner or Disney, and at least there’s a Taco Bell Nearby.
Work at Paramount and…well…good luck.
At least the fine dining options are opening up. Osteria Mamma is one of those off-the-beaten track, neighborhood joints that you just fall in love with. First off, it’s got a not-at-all pretentious atmosphere, which is a big plus in my book. You’re not seated among the high-flautin’ and the glamorous (though there were a lot of good looking ladies having dinner the night I went). You feel like you’ve walked into a joint that people from the neighborhood walk down the block to for a Sunday night dinner.
They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here. They’re trying to serve up Italian Family classics with skill and care. This is the kind of place where you can (and more importantly should) strike up a conversation with your waiter; talk about the wines, the specials and what’s good. Then sit back and let time pass you by. It’s a great place to do it.
The other bit of good news is that there’s another place down the street on Melrose called Osteria La Buca (which I haven’t been to yet). These two joints are in competition with each other, which is nothing but good news for people who love good cooking.
WHAT SHOULD I GET: I followed the First Thing rule and ordered the Tagliatelle Bolognese, which is veal, pork and sausage with pasta in a nice tomato sauce. No regrets there. I also was seriously looking at the Tagliata, which is a NY Angus Steak. Next time…next time.
We also got a Carpaccio di Fileto as an antipasto, which is thinly sliced, but so darn tartare as to be raw, with cheese and herbs. (What am I saying, it’s frickin’ raw.) It was so similar to Ethiopian Raw Meat I had to remind myself of Italy’s history with that country, so it made me wonder. Still, put any squeamishness aside, because it was out of this world flavorful. We also got a desert that was so similar to Chinese Milk Pudding as to make me realize that Pasta wasn’t the only thing Marco Polo brought back from the East.
In any case, expect to drop anywhere from 40 to 90 bucks your meal, depending if you partake of the grape, of course.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Parking is going to be a bit of a bear, I’m afraid. And yes, its going to be crowded, so call ahead and get a reservation. Osteria Mamma has it’s own parking lot, if you want to call if that. It offers Valet Parking for six bucks.
If you want to park on the street (and odds are, that’s what you’ll be doing, you have got to be aware of the metering and neighborhood rules around there. Parking on Larchmont is your best bet, as you won’t have to worry about Meters after six, but it fills up fast, as in immediately. Parking on Lucrene (one block over) was a bit of a concern as you have to have a permit to park there, but the signs seemed to indicate you can park without a permit for two hours. I didn’t want to take a chance, so I move my car onto Melrose, where the meters stop collecting at seven.
5730 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tel: (323) 284-7060
Monday-Thursday: 11:30 am – 10:30 pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Saturday: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Sunday: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm