For the sake of disclosure, let me start with the disclaimer that I do know the owners of Obika’, the new novelty and hip spot that opened less than a month ago in Century City. Tucked in the no-man’s land near Borders and The Container Store, Obika’ has the advantage of a lovely patio on its side, for dining al fresco. Inside, this Mozzarella Bar is modern and sleek, with a counter displaying the fresh ingredients that end up in most of the cold plates neatly lined up in clear containers.
The novelty of the place, which has branches in Italy, Japan, London Kuwait and New York, is that its menu is centered on buffalo mozzarella. I mean the real thing, not the plasticky version we usually source from the supermarket. The mozzarella is flown in straight from Italy twice a week, from Campania, one of the two Italian regions where buffalo mozzarella has the AOC status.
Choosing what to eat could be slightly convoluted as the menu is divided into various sections which include appetizers, salads, pasta, flatbread and tasting plates. If it’s mozzarella you are after (most dishes either include it or have it as an add-on), the tasting plates are the best bet. They can be built with different types of buffalo mozzarella, including a smoked one not for the faint of heart, and charcuterie ranging from prosciutto, salami and bresaola. Most dishes are Italian size portions, not quite tapas size but not enormous either.
Besides the Mozzarella bar inside Osteria Mozza (Nancy Silverton was inspired by the Italian Obika’) I believe this is the only restaurant in town where a real mozzarella experience can be had. No matter the dish, the cheese is served in its purest form, without a trace of olive oil or salt, the better to appreciate the creaminess and the richness of taste.
The service is friendly and attentive and, on a Tuesday night, the crowd looked more like hipsters who had read or heard about the place than mall shoppers trying to replenish themselves. It might not evoke old piazzas and crumbling buildings but it sure makes one connect with those Neapolitan buffalos who, as I write, graze unaware of my happiness at knowing a slice of Italy is close by.
Westfield Century City Shopping Center
10250 Santa Monica Boulevard LA 310 556 2452