Strip malls, it seems, are reserved for dry cleaners and nail salons, so when seeking authentic Italian cooking in Los Angeles, it’s most likely you’re not looking to the second story of an austere shopping plaza in Marina del Rey. However, in the case of this haystack, if you search between the cleaners and sandwich chain riffraff, you will find the needle that is Mosto Enoteca where chef and co-owner, Fabrizio Giorgi, is serving beautiful plates of Italian cuisine. The space itself is humble yet convivial with low-watt light fixtures casting honey-colored illumination, walls adorned with well-placed paintings and mirrors. The simple décor, nevertheless, is a service to Mosto’s menu – a reminder that what you are here for lies on the plate.
Giorgi, who hails from the critically beloved Angelini Osteria and was born in Rimini, a couple of hours south of Bologna, honors traditional rules in his kitchen (no garlic with milk, no cheese with seafood). Despite his homage to tradition, nevertheless, unlike many chefs, Giorgi is egoless, and if asked to prepare a dish that muddles the lines of classical Italian cooking, he will graciously accommodate a diner’s request.
A meal may start with burrata con prosciutto salad: a mound of leafy arucola swathed in gossamer slices of prosciutto and capped with cumulous burrata. The salty snap of the prosciutto pairs perfectly with creamy forkfuls of burrata and the dish is further complemented by a rich drizzle of balsamic dressing. The carpaccio di tonno salad’s complexity hits just the right notes – tender slices of ahi melt on the tongue while the bitter and prickly spikes of frisee add contrast and texture. There are limited entrée options but what the menu lacks in variety is more than compensated in quality. The squid ink tagliatelle is brilliantly executed. Spins of the atramental pasta are so fresh it tastes as if they were rolled out and cut moments ago, while hearty curls of shrimp and a delicate sauce further compliment the dish. On the dessert menu, the affogato tops a scoop of vanilla gelato with a thrilling shot of espresso, a tongue-tickling gateway treat for even those who prefer all things savory. The wine list, an extensive but not exhaustive collection that parallels the menu in authenticity and thought, captures California and regional Italian wines, including many gems in small production. Should you find the leather bound book intimidating, Mosto’s co-owner and wine director, Massimo Fubelli, is gifted in discerning both the patron and the meal, when suggesting a bottle to pair. On a particular night after a table of three had reached the fourth hour of their meal, they were offered a secret stash of homemade limoncello. In response a woman remarked, “I didn’t think this place could get any better!”
Mosto Enoteca, 517 Washington Blvd, Marina del Rey, CA 90292 Upper Deck. 310-821-3035. (Dinner every day from 5:30 – 10:30 pm.)