Restaurants don’t usually change their name when they are successful, yet Obikà recently changed the spelling of its name to Obicà in reverence to its Italian roots.
The restaurant is known for exquisite, creamy Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, made from the nutritious water buffalo milk, but with 33 percent less fat and cholesterol than mozzarella made from cow’s milk. Obicà receives deliveries weekly from artisan producers in southern Italy, and the cheese has a porcelain white shine, milky texture and distinctive taste. It is served sliced with heirloom tomatoes and basil leaves, breaded and fried as an appetizer, and on top of grilled eggplant, covered in piquant tomato sauce.
It also comes on Obicà’s terrific Neapolitan pizza, prepared with stone-ground whole wheat and a flour blend imported from Italy. The dough is left to rise slowly for at least 48 hours, giving a light texture and appealing crunch.
I was invited to sample executive chef Simone Santopietro’s new winter menu paired with wines from sommelier Raimondo Boggia. He is also president and chief executive officer of B Ventures USA LLC, and brought Obicà to the United States.
Boggia and Santopietro adore their Valoriani-Mugnaini pizza oven, imported from Italy, which can cook four pizzas in one minute.
Our group sat outside and sipped flutes of Lambrusco Metodo Classico rosé. It’s a lambrusco made with a second fermentation in the bottle, which is the same method used in making Champagne. The bubbles complemented the essence of rose and red berries. It paired well with the pizza crust bread and fried squid, shrimp and tempura-like fried vegetables we sampled.
Next, we enjoyed glasses of 2010 Kerner IGT, Zanotelli. Boggia explained that the wine is a new varietal created by grafting red schiava grapes with white riesling. It is white and fruity with a crispness that balanced our next course, rich bucatini pasta with Pecorino Romano and freshly ground black pepper.
Pistachio-crusted lamb chops were served as the main entrée, with potato puree and spinach strudel. It was paired with a rare Rutilia Tintilia del Molise DOC 2008, Salvatore, which was smooth and had an enjoyable spiciness. The wine is in limited production from Italy’s second-smallest wine region.
The vegetarians in our group enjoyed the eggplant parmigiana. After having a bite, I requested my own plate. It’s light, slightly sweet and extremely satisfying.
During dessert, we were offered Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria DOC 2013, Donnafugata, which offered notes of dry apricot and almond flavors. It had the perfect amount of sweetness to accompany the homemade almond parfait with almond brittle. We also enjoyed a dessert of thinly sliced pineapple and a small scoop of lemon sorbet.
Obicà offers daily pasta specials of cannelloni on Monday, lasagnetta on Tuesday, orecchiette on Wednesday, gnocchi on Thursday, ravioli on Friday, risotto on Saturday and taglierini on Sunday.
During Valentine’s weekend on Saturday, Feb. 14 and Sunday, Feb. 15, Obicà is offering its San Valentino menu to be shared. Couples will start with ahi tuna tartare with blood orange and sea salt, followed by pasta with seafood ragu, and tuna, swordfish, wild shrimp and calamari in a fresh tomato sauce. Before dessert, a salad will be served with strawberries, pomegranate and arugula, with a balsamic reduction. For dessert, homemade raspberry ricotta mousse will be served spicy chocolate sauce. The dinner is $95 for two, and can be enjoyed with a Ferrari Rose Italian Spumante Metodo Classico for $50 per bottle.
Guests are also encouraged to share Instagram photos of their Valentine’s dinner using the tags @obicaLA or #obicalove for a chance to win the “Obicà Cookbook — A Contemporary Attitude to Authentic Italian Food”. The guest who receives the most likes by Feb. 28 wins. $$ 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., (310)556-2452.
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