Restaurant: Chi Spacca [1, 2, 3]
Location: 6610 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038. (323) 297-1133
Date: September 13, 2022
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 they do have a good (if pricey) Italian wine list and so it’s workable with 3 people, but no more.
Jeffrey loves this place — it’s one of his favorites in the city in any genre — and so he “muscled” us into this dinner (twist my arm!).
The small room.
The smoky in the room grill.
Jeffrey is obsessed with sitting at the bar. It’s a front row seat to the grilling action, but it is warm, smoky, and “linear” in that having more than 3 people here means you can barely talk. In general I prefer tables.
From the list: Floral and mineral at the same time.
FOCACCIA DI RECCO. stracchino, extra virgin olive oil. Very salty but super delicious. Extremely hot. Crispy, but not as crispy as Jeffrey remembers.
PICKLED PEPPERS & ANCHOVY. Peppers stuffed with anchovy. Salty but delicious.
WARM ROASTED SQUASH BLOSSOMS. Tomato vinaigrette, basil. These could have been better. They were fine, but muted. I did like using the tomato sauce on the focaccia however.
SALANOVA LETTUCE. fines herbes, lemon vinaigrette. Salted, but a lovely fresh salad with nice hits of dill. I might have liked even better with a bracing more acidic (and less salty) take.
GRILLED OCTOPUS. pureed and fried ceci. Good, but the double chickpea stuff wrecked my gut.
From my cellar: Spectacular. Nose, middle, and finish. Lots of fruit.
GRILLED LAMB SAUSAGE. Peppers, onion, calabrian chile. Really nice char on the sausage and a bit of heat. The salad offset the fat a bit, but it was, you guessed it, a bit too salty.
Big! But round.
BEEF & BONE MARROW PIE. beef cheek, cippolini, funghi. Rich and delicious. Crust is really rich and there is that dark meat pie thing.
Look at all that meat!
PORCINI RUBBED SHORT RIBS. scallion, salsa verde. More or less Korean-style short ribs (except for the salsa verde). Maybe a touch chewy.
GRILLED SPROUTING CAULIFLOWER. bagna cauda, crushed lemon. Jeffrey didn’t like these, but I thought they were fine. I liked the butter thing, the char, and the crunch.
SPACCA ONION RINGS. garlic aioli. Absolutely great onion rings. Pretty much perfect. Flakey fry.
garlic aioli. This was good. And useful for jazing up other dishes besides the rings.
MILK ROASTED PORK LOIN. fennel pollen, crispy sage. Nice flavor but so fatty.
GRILLED MAITAKE MUSHROOMS. garlic, mint, lemon. Nice and smokey.
PEPPER STEAK. bacon, scallion, peppercorn, chive. Way, way too salty.
BUTTERSCOTCH BUDINO. caramel, Maldon sea salt, rosemary pinenut cookies. Close to a perfect dessert.
BANANA CREAM SLAB. cocoa nib and caramel jam. I ate around the banana itself enjoying the cream and crust.
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 :-). We really went to town tonight as all that food was for just 3 people! It was salty though. Extremely salty. And rich, of course.
Service was great too, and the atmosphere fun. My only complaint is with the bottle limit. The 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 so it’s very difficult to order reds. 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!