1022 SW Morrison St., 227-5521, muccaosteria.com.
[MIGHTY RESTRAINT] It's no secret that if you add enough butter and salt to something it's bound to taste good. Even grizzled back-of-the-house veterans know gilding the lily with another pinch of Diamond Crystal can mean the difference between four and five stars in your typical Yelp review. Mucca Osteria, the space Roman ex-pat Simone Savaiano opened in 2011, needs no such crutches, relying instead on fantastic sourcing and an almost preternatural ability to perfectly season, leaving all the braggadocio to the ingredients themselves. Even something as basic as the bread (like the pasta, all housemade) is served with olive oil but no accompanying cellar of salt, the cloud-soft focaccia reliant on the faintest crunch of sea salt and a dusting of chives. A stratified tower of burrata and heirloom tomatoes ($16) had only a halo of balsamic and olive oil to bind the flavors together, the seasonal sweetness and natural umami of the tomatoes cradled by the all-enveloping creaminess of the oozing mozzarella. A tagliatelle ($19), rich with egg and draped in a silky saffron sauce, hugged juicy, fennel-laden chunks of sausage in a dish more filling than its size would imply, and a better prepared pan-roasted halibut ($30) would be difficult to track down, even in a dedicated seafood restaurant. Attention to detail seems to be the secret ingredient here, and if it borders on OCD—they procure their bread yeast by fermenting raisins—so be it.
Ideal meal: Fish of the day, burrata insalata.
Best deal: A $55 tasting menu will net you five courses. The whole table must participate.
Pro tip: On a balmy evening, see if you can score an outside table. The space is lovely inside but can get quite loud when it's busy.
11:30 am-2 pm Monday-Friday, 5 pm-close Monday-Saturday. $$-$$$.