Restaurant: Chi Spacca
Location: 6610 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 297-1133
Date: June 01, 2015
Cuisine: Italian Steakhouse
Rating: Rich but delicious, a carnivore’s paradise
The little Mozza empire on Melrose now includes the Pizzeria, the Osteria, Chi Spacca, and Mozza 2 go. They do a great job with all their restaurants (annoying corkage policy notwithstanding), and I’ve been itching to sink my canines into Chi Spacca for some time. When a plan earlier this year for the larger Foodie Club gang to go to Chi Spacca failed, we ended up at Spear instead, and despite that being a great meal I still wanted to get here. But because of the annoying corkage policy (a complaint I will continue to reiterate from my soap box), we had to wait until a small dinner (3 of us), this time nominally for my birthday.
From my cellar: 1989 Paolo Scavino Barolo Bric dël Fiasc. VM 95. The 1989 Barolo Bric del Fiasc (3-liter) is still striking for its freshness. Some of that is a factor of the large format, but standard bottles have also develop very positively. Here we find a classic flavor profile of tobacco, herbs, spices, plums and licorice with the depth, muscle and concentration of the modern school. The 1989 is a touch more layered and aromatically intesne than the 1990, with a little more length and overall complexity. Tar, smoke and licorice linger on an eternal finish.
Pickles. spring onions, carrots, fennel. Nice crunchy pickled vegetables. The acidity is a nice contrast to all the fat to come.
Affettati Misti-Daily Selection of Cured Meats. Calabrese salame, oregano salame. pork butter. That white stuff that looks like butter, pure lard (smoked and aged).
Pate & Terrine. butcher’s pate, trotter fritti. The fried things are stuffed with pig feet meat. Now, I’m not normally a fan of pig’s feet at all, but these were delicious (maybe because you can’t SEE the trotter). The terrine was also very good, classic country pate.
Bread for the meats.
Erick brought: 1979 Chateau Margaux. Parker 93. This wine is just now reaching full maturity, much later than I initially expected. It is a classy, elegant example of Margauxpossessing a dark ruby/purple color, and a moderately intense nose of sweet black currant fruit intermixed with minerals, vanillin, and floral scents. The wine is medium-bodied, with beautifully sweet fruit. This linear, more compressed style of Margaux possesses a good inner-core of sweet fruit, and a charming, harmonious personality. Although not a blockbuster, it is aging effortlessly, and appears to take on more character with each passing year. Anticipated maturity: Now-2010.
Burrata Primavera. Snap peas, carrots, mint. Very nice salad with good contrast of sweet and acidic.
Pane bianco. Fett’unta. Super light, crispy cheese “pizza.”
Whole Branzino. herb salad, olive oil. Extremely herby and fabulous, with an almost Thai like lemongrass flavor.
Grilled Octopus. pureed & fried ceci, parsley leaf. Very soft tender octopus.
2003 Di Prisco Taurasi.
Braised Lamb Ribs. Castelvetrano olive, preserved lemon. Nice rich lamb meat.
Grilled Lamb Sausage. Calabrian peppers, roasted onion. Basically Merguez with a bit of heat. The herby salad is a nice counterpart.
2005 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. JG 94+. Beautiful dark rose color. Really unusual nose with an off note I can only describe as like something you might smell in a petroleum refinery or maybe cordite. Mild notes of Indian spices and perhaps a bit of prune. This wine is very hard for me to describe. It is spicy with deep red fruits.
Tomahawk Pork Chop. fennel pollen. The top (far) part is the pork chop itself, wonderfully tender and with a lovely flavor. The bottom long parts are the pork belly, similar flavor but WAY richer.
Cocoa Nib Caramel Tart. whipped creme fraiche. Rich.
Butterscotch Budino. sea salt & rosemary pine nut cookies. OMG, I love these creamy puddings.
Seasonal Gelati & Sorbetti. Mint, coconut Stracciatella, and a berry flavor. Nice complex Italian flavors.
Overall, I thought the food at Chi Spacca was quite awesome, if not exactly authentically Italian. Certainly more to my taste than any normal steakhouse. They should import some pastas over from Mozza though :-). From the menu I thought prices looked crazy, but the total turned out to be reasonable ($130 a person before tip) even though we went to town. Really to town as the above was for 3 people!
Service was great too, and the atmosphere fun. My only complaint is with the bottle limit. The $30 corkage is fine, and you can even wave the corkage ordering off the list — again great. But the 2 bottle hard limit, apparently very strictly enforced (we brought the Barolo and the Margaux), is quiet annoying. It barely worked for 3 people and totally breaks down for wine dinners. Their list has interesting Italians, but the wines are two young. Plus I just resent having to buy off wine lists altogether (beyond the occasional white or rose). If they priced a fixed $30-50 markup, and had my kind of wines, it would be fine, but they always use a multiplicative markup. I’m not paying $400-600 for a $200 bottle!