Located in an obscure corner of 1st Street in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles, Osso can be easily missed when walking by. Previously known as One-Eyed Gypsy, Osso — which means “bone” in Italian — has reopened with new owners and an entirely new vibe. While One-Eyed Gypsy was focused more on bohemian extravagance, the new owners took down many of the old decorations for a more modest feel. The restaurant and bar now exude an ambiance that is both intimate and relaxed, created by the dim lighting and upbeat music playing at a low volume.
The restaurant’s menu consists of traditional American comfort food such as fried chicken with potato salad, more eclectic and decorative dishes such as the foie gras torchon and smoked yellowtail toast and a variety of snacks such as onion rings, beef jerky and popcorn to be shared around the dinner table. Chef Nick Montgomery prepares Osso’s American dishes in a unique way, drawing influence from both the South and his various experiences cooking in restaurants across the country, including Momofuku in New York City and Blackbird in Chicago.
The fried chicken, Osso’s most famous dish, tastes as delicious as it looks and smells. The skin is crispy and tantalizing while the meat on the inside is smooth and juicy. The potato salad serves as the perfect side dish to the chicken with its delectable barbeque sauce and paprika seasoning. By contrast, the carrot top tortellini in broth is equally satisfying in a more subdued manner. The tortellini, stuffed with chicken thigh and foie gras, with hazelnuts and carrot confit sprinkled across the bowl, makes for a dining experience so enriching that diners would think they were in a five-star French restaurant instead of a Downtown hole-in-the-wall.
Unlike many restaurants in downtown Los Angeles, Osso’s dishes range from affordable to pricey, a reflection of its menu’s many options. In addition, Osso prides itself on being a fair wage restaurant by adding a 20 percent service fee to every customer’s check but not requiring a tip. Customers will find that Osso is not a restaurant that targets a certain demographic; its broad price range and eclectic menu attract visitors from all ages and income levels.
In addition to its exceptional menu, Osso’s customer service is a well-balanced combination of attentive, but not overbearing friendliness. The water jug will never be empty without someone rushing to fill it for you, and the waiter will bring you the check before you ask for it.
Those who are not already won over by Osso will be intrigued by its plans to incorporate more live music in the restaurant. With a stage leftover from the One-Eyed Gypsy era, customers can look forward to live music performances. Much like the decor of the rest of the restaurant, the stage gives off a rustic style that many visitors might describe as unkempt, but that ties in with the theme of the restaurant perfectly.
Though many college students might not be old enough to try Osso’s well-known cocktails and beer, the restaurant has many other highlights such as its pleasant food, various flavors and exceptional service. With its one-of-a-kind menu and relaxed modern bohemian atmosphere, it is a restaurant that any foodie, or fried-chicken lover, must try.