I’m very sensitive to pasta that I think is over cooked. There are many acclaimed places in LA where I feel the pasta is routinely overcooked by at least two minutes behind what I think is appropriate. Pasta Sisters is another good example. I would never eat there again.
Maccheroni Republic’s pasta is on the slightly soft but still acceptable side of al dente. Bestia’s pasta is cooked well beyond that point in my experience.
I get this is America and restaurants need to cater to American tastes, but even 30 seconds of extra boiling makes a big difference to me.
veal tartar crostini used to be excellent, spicy mussels, duck liver mousse. Pizza is decent but not great. Pasta is not great either, only cavateli has been ok. In general antipasti are better than the rest.
To me Mozza has a stuffy atmosphere, consistent good but not great food.
Bestia is loud and happening, food ranges from brilliant to mediocre.
Strangely, I consistently find service better at Bestia, even though it is a larger, less formal restaurant.
I have had several terrible experiences at Mozza when it came to wine service.
Fresh and dried pasta should both be al dente, though with fresh, al dente is a much narrower window between undercooked and overcooked.
Anybody who thinks the pasta at Bestia is not al dente probably should stick to Funke Town.
… the mezze maniche, “half-sleeves,” are more or less inflexible tubes, hard at the center, that become grainy when you chew them. The rigatoni in an admirable Amatriciana sauce, the orecchiette with a lovely sauce of sausage and sweet broccoli di ciccio, and the thick spaghettone alla Norma with tomatoes and beautifully sautéed eggplant were the same — wet, yet distractingly hard. Funke’s pale, cheese-intensive pesto is worthy, but the stiff trofie they coat perhaps less so. The ultrafirm texture is definitely his house style — you could interpret it as an extreme interpretation of what Italians call “al dente,” cooked to provide resistance to the tooth — and it is consistent, but it also distracts from what should be beautiful cooking.