Welcome to Tough Doors, in which Eater talks to the chefs, GMs, and restaurateurs behind some of the world's most in-demand restaurants and gets the lowdown on how best to get in.
[Photo: Osteria Mozza]
Five years ago, Mario Batali, Nancy Silverton, and Joe Bastianich opened the one-two punch that is Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza on the corner of Highland and Melrose in Los Angeles. Both restaurants were instant hits, and the more formal Osteria has maintained a reputation for being one of the most difficult reservations in the country. In the following interview, Osteria general manager David Rosoff explains the reservations system and the best ways to get in, whether you're interested in a table or a couple of seats at the bar.
How would you characterize the restaurant's popularity?
We are very fortunate five years in to still have great demand for seating. We have someone dedicated to handling the reservation lines from 9:30 AM until 11:00 PM, and they never stop answering calls.
Can you explain how your reservations system works? How far in advance do the books open up?
We start taking reservations thirty days out to the numerical date. Reservations can be made by phone or on OpenTable through our website.
Do you take walk-ins? What is the breakdown between reservations and walk-ins?
We have thirty seats at our bars that are available on a first-come, first-served basis; we never reserve those seats. Seventeen of those seats are at the Mozzarella Bar, where you can watch the action in the open kitchen. The remainder are at the Amaro Bar where, Sunday through Thursday, we offer a $42 three-course fixed price menu.
In total, the restaurant has about 135 seats.
How bad can the wait get?
For the bar I have rarely seen it reach 45 minutes.
What are the best times to come in as a walk-in? The worst?
Every night has its own unique pace to it, but in general, the typical rules apply: early and late. We seat until 11:00 PM, so as long as you are in the door by then you are free to enjoy as elaborate a meal as you wish.
What, in your view, is the best way to get into Osteria Mozza?
Call us thirty days out or the same day. We have a direct line for same-day reservations at 323-866-5300. Invariably we receive a few last-minute cancellations and open those seats up to the callers on that line. Or, of course, walk on in!
Is there a particular time that's best to call for same-day reservations?
First thing at 9:30 AM, or in the mid-afternoon.
Any last words?
The same-day reservation line is key. Not everyone can plan a month ahead and I can tell you with certainty that we find ourselves with a few unexpected openings late in the day.