Monday, December 2, 2019

Where to Eat: So Much Seafood @ MOSA Coastal (Hermosa Beach)

The Eats: A range of diverse seafood selections with Italian influences

The Location: Hermosa Beach

The Vibes: Light, airy, intimate, tranquil

Good for: Alone, dates, groups (small and large)

When-To-Go: Daily, 4 p.m. until close (9 p.m. Sunday – Thursday; 11 p.m. Friday & Saturday); Weekend Brunch, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The $$ Factor: Appetizers, $3 – $22; Entrées, $14.50 - $39; Desserts, $6 - $8

The Names behind the scenes: Partners Anne Conness and Nancy Vrankovic

The 4-1-1: MOSA Coastal officially opened October 2019

Parking Situation: Metered street parking

I’ll Be Back…: To try the brunch and check out the happy hour!

There are literally 5,001 reasons why I love living in California so much. But one reason in particular is that we have the beach. Whether it’s a beautiful sunny summer day or 40 degrees, smack in the middle of a winter “cold front” like we’ve had this past week, there’s really never a bad time to visit the beach, ever.

MOSA Coastal, which opened October 2019, seems to have the same affection for the beach. Situated on Hermosa Ave., it’s only a stone’s throw away from the shoreline. It pays homage to its close-to-the-waterfront location by offering an array of seafood options with Italian influences. It’s currently open for weekend brunch and daily dinner, also offering a daily 4 – 6 p.m. happy hour.

I recently stopped by for dinner one week night, first falling in love with the non-pretentious, laid-back vibes of the space. Minimalism, a touch of L.A. chic and seaside casualness all harmoniously co-exist, giving MOSA its own unique style and charm. White furry chair coverings give a pop of elegance, while colorful abstract paintings juxtaposed against natural brown and white wood fixtures give a modern aesthetic.

My favorite area was the Bamboo Garden, pictured below. It's a covered outdoor patio, with hanging market lights and elegant mirrors. Bamboo stalks run the length of one wall, with water fountains providing a relaxing background soundtrack of running water.

The dinner menu spans starters, vegetables, a seafood bar, oysters, pastas, entrees and desserts. Starters include a prosciutto board, tomato caprese or the Panini Rolls. As a bread lover, I opted for the rolls, which are these fluffy, warm mounds of heaven. Lightly salted, they come with rosemary mixed in olive oil and a zesty marinara.

The seafood bar features five choices, ranging from ahi tartar to steamed clams, steamed mussels and octopus carpaccio. I went for the Calamari Salad, pictured below. I’ve typically eaten calamari as an appetizer — grilled or fried and typically accompanied by garnishes or at most a dipping sauce and lemons. MOSA’s take on a calamari salad made me realize how delicious calamari can be with other ingredients, especially ones not often paired with it — like nuts and herbs and spices. This salad has so many delightfully unusual bursts of flavors and textures: the crunchiness of pistachios and celery juxtaposed to the tenderness of the calamari; the burst of sweet oranges and fragrant mint compared to the peppery North African harissa sauce. It was definitely one of my favorites of the night.

Oysters hail from three regions: Baja, California, Prince Edward Isle and Puget Sound, Washington. The Puget Sound’s Capitol Reserve were completely gone, so I tried Baja’s Kumiai and Prince Edward Isle’s Malpeque. The Kumiai are on the smaller side, and slightly sweet. The Malpeque, on the other hand, are larger and mildly briny. Both were excellent in quality — plump, firm and extremely fresh.

On the vegetable front, there are six items, including three salads, charred eggplant, spiced carrots and grilled broccolini, pictured below. And let me tell you about this broccolini. It is everything!! It’s slathered in a green olive pesto and topped with sliced almonds and pickled purple onions. I have no idea how MOSA made the pesto so velvety and buttery, but it’s such a rich, smooth texture. Most certainly a must to order.

The Cioppino, pictured below and also known as “Fishermans Wharf Seafood Stew,” apparently is one of the most popular dishes. It’s an assortment of seafood (think mussels, scallops, calamari, shrimp and more), all submerged in a tomato-based broth. It comes with your choice of garlic toast or spaghetti. It was very filling and the perfect way to stay warm during this freezing cold California winter. 

It was a tough decision to select another entrée: would it be the pasta, which is made in-house, or seafood, MOSA’s proclaimed specialty? The Niman Ranch lamb papardelle sounded so freakin’ good, but ultimately, I settled on the branzino, a.k.a., the European bass. It’s stuffed with sautéed spinach and onions, sitting on a thin red pepper rouille spread. You get the entire fish, head and all, deboned (although to note: there were a few bones here and there, so just be careful how hard you chew!). The meat was flaky and tender, and a really nice flavor. It didn’t disappoint!

Of course, a meal simply wouldn’t be complete without dessert. In addition to espresso panna cotta and lemon ricotta cheese cake, MOSA has rotating gelatos. The lemon gelato, pictured below, was subtly sweet and quite creamy — a pleasant surprise especially since it was dairy-free.

No hard liquor (yet?) but lots of wines and beers to choose from, including a very tasty sparkling white wine sangria with hints of citrus and basil, pictured below.

All in all, I enjoyed MOSA’s ambiance and decadently satisfying seafood. From chilled oysters to piping hot seafood stews and grilled fish, there’s quite a lot to pick and choose. So the next time you’re in the mood to relax and grab dinner right next to the beach, consider making the rounds to MOSA Coastal.

See you there soon!

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