Virbila Holds a Mirror Up to Newport's Mozza; Gold Soaks in Dal Rae

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Mozza's butterscotch budino Photo: Tatiana Arbogast

Capping off a year when new restaurants opened every other minute, S. Irene Virbila avoids them all to tell us how Mozza is doing in Newport, as no one has an opinion yet on Mozza in L.A. "Close your eyes and you'd be hard-pressed to identify a dish as coming from this locale as opposed to Los Angeles," making us again wonder why she felt we needed a review. However, she swerves on the decor, insisting, "The setting feels wrong. The room is overscaled and feels more corporate than personal. The layout isn't as cozy. The lighting is bleary. And the big pizza oven with copper surrounding it has that overblown, chain restaurant look." Yep, that's Newport! She meditates on how a restaurant can be a perfect replica of an original, yet still lack a certain soul, before giving O.C.'s Mozza her favorite constellation: two and a half stars. [LAT]

Churros for Hanukkah? Now someone's talking sense! Mr. Gold throws out Lucero's and Mr. Churro, while we personally enjoy the upscale-y options at Churros Calientes and Cafe Livre et le Marche, too. But we can all agree on the little carts winding through Echo Park, and Mr. Gold points this party planner to "the Salinas truck that parks near the corner of Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, because the best churro is the freshest churro, and Salinas churros are always crisp, hot and delicious." [LAW]

Jonathan Gold goes to that old school-y supper club Dal Rae in Pico Rivera. He is beside himself with the ghost of Christmas past, exclaiming, "The Dal Rae at Christmas — freaking hell, the Dal Rae at Christmas, a pulsing, meat-scented wonderland of dark wood and smoked mirrors and shrimp cocktails as big as spaniel pups, Old-Fashioneds pulsing with sugar, tiny lightbulbs of such profusion and such blinking complexity that it can feel as if you are trapped on the inside of a vintage Rock-Ola." [LAW]