Location: 6610 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 297-1133
Date: April 17, 2017
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 but their annoying corkage policy (2 bottles per table!) has limited my ability to attend. I only go to this sort of place with my wine groups (my wife being a near vegetarian) and so the limits make it near impossible. But anyway we managed to organize a small group after months of planning.
I ordered this off the menu.
From my cellar: 1974 Gaja Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo. 95 points. One of the stars in this tasting, the 1974 Barbaresco Sorì San Lorenzo is quite a bit fresher and also more powerful than the 1971. A huge core of fruit hits the palate, followed by savory herbs, leather, tobacco and smoke. The 1974 remains powerful and virile, with fabulous intensity for a wine of its age and a compelling interplay of tertiary nuance, dense fruit and plenty of structure to back it all up. Readers lucky enough to still own the 1974 can look forward to another 5-10 years of very fine drinking.
2005 Château Cos d’Estournel. VM 97. I have been fortunate to taste the 2005 Cos d’Estournel three times in recent weeks and it has never been anything less than stunningly beautiful, as it is once again on this night. The interplay of dark, ripe fruit and the more mineral, savory-inflected nuances typical of Saint-Estèphe yield a compelling, wonderfully complete Bordeaux that simply has it all. An exotic mélange of graphite, gravel, smoke, cured meats and dark-fleshed fruits flow through to the explosive finish. Riveting today, the 2005 Cos will continue to thrill those fortunate enough to own it for several decades. Given its price vis-à-vis many of the high-flying wines of the year, the 2005 Cos remains a terrific relative value in its class.
Costata alla Florentina. Dry-aged bone-in New York steak. Solid beef.
2000 Harlan estate. VM 93-96. he 2000 Harlan Estate is in a beautiful place today. Soft, open-knit and nicely mellowed by age, the 2000 is absolutely gorgeous, with soft contours to match is engaging personality. Mocha, black cherries, leather and spice are all quite forward in this succulent Harlan Estate. The 2000 might not be a profound Harlan Estate, but it is a striking wine that is peaking today and that should continue to drink well for at least another few years.
2004 Harlan Estate. VM 95+. Bright ruby-red. Superripe aromas of raspberry, currant and tropical dark chocolate. Sweet, lush and large-scaled, hinting at surmaturite and compellingly mouthfilling without coming across as heavy. This extremely ripe wine’s high pH seems fully buffered by huge dry extract. Finishes with big but lush tannins and outstanding palate-staining persistence. A bit port-like but with mineral and licorice notes giving it definition and grip.
1986 Château d’Yquem. 96 points. Deep honeyed gold colour. Nose of burnt carameled toffee, soaped new leather car seats and shoe leather, white shoe cream, apricots…very suave but complex. Palate is gorgeously honeyed, rounded, almondy burnished copper and with a medium-cut acidity to stop it getting cloying. Tooth-coating. Massive head-expanding resonance and reverberance and all so smooth-edged… quite silence creating. Wow! Hard to stop sipping. It just gets more head-expanding with more time in the glass and the mouth.
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 6 people! It was salty though. Extremely salty.
Service was great too, and the atmosphere fun. My only complaint is with the bottle limit. The $30 corkage is fine. But the 2 bottle hard limit, apparently strictly enforced, is quiet annoying. It totally breaks down for wine dinners. Their list has interesting Italians, but the wines are too 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!