Osso is a new downtown Los Angeles restaurant fronted by Chef Nick Montgomery and GM Ami Lourie, who worked together in New York City at Momofuku Ssam Bar. The friends teamed with established L.A. restaurateurs Dana Hollister and Pierre Casanova (Villains Tavern, Brite Spot, and Cliff’s Edge) on Osso, which translates from Italian as “bone.” The space can best be described as kooky. There’s no sign on this corner building, which is one of the last outlets before your car (or the Gold Line) crosses the L.A. River. However, you will find a pressed tin ceiling, worn concrete and brick, long wood bar, tasseled chandeliers, and a stage with elaborate backdrop. I was invited to try Osso, and given the strange setting, which didn’t exactly scream fine food, it was tempting to grab a quick drink and go. I’m glad I didn’t, since that would have meant missing Montgomery’s seasonal California comfort food and a dinner with no dish better than his delectable fried chicken.
Fried Chicken ($18 half, $34 whole) is clearly prepared with care. The bird’s brined with buttermilk and dill, seasoned with hot pepper, salt and black pepper, dredged and deep-fried in bubbling vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet. The coating is crunchy, but not too thick, with meat that’s sticky and juicy, even the breast meat. You’ve surely burrowed through cardboard buckets of chicken before. At Osso, their chicken comes in a metal pail with a side of potato salad that’s flavored with pickle juice and a dusting of cayenne. Better yet, your bird arrives on a cart that features an array of hot sauce bottles, including Frank’s RedHot, Tabasco and Sriracha. The chicken doesn’t need sauce, but it doesn’t hurt. You’ll definitely want to eat every bite but the osso. Yes, this fried chicken transcends its oddball surroundings.