Chi Spacca opens in February at Mozza's Scuola di Pizza, featuring… (Chad Colby )
What started as one cook’s pet project eventually evolved into one of the hottest pop-up restaurant tickets in town. And now it’s ready to take the final leap – Chad Colby’s regular pig dinners and salumi bar at Mozza2Go have turned into an official restaurant called Chi Spacca (“The Cleaver”).
“This is something that we’ve been kicking around the last year or so,” Colby said, “but the whole path probably took at least three years. I started out playing around with cured meats just as a project. We made some, tasted it and refined the recipes. Then there was the whole process we went through with the health department. Finally we ended up with this product that really needs to be featured somehow."
The restaurant, which will officially open Feb. 4, in the current Scuola di Pizza spot, is about as meat-heavy as you could hope, featuring dishes such as a 42-ounce “tomahawk” pork chop and an 80-ounce bistecca fiorentina.
The real attraction, of course, is the cured meats. That’s the inspiration for Chi Spacca and is largely due to the efforts of Colby, who became so entranced by Italian salumi culture that he developed the first authorized dry-cure program at a Los Angeles restaurant.
Colby parlayed that into regular Thursday night Salumi Bar pop-up dinners inside the Scuola. (He also won the first Cochon 555 porkapolooza in 2011.)
“We had to ask ourselves: What are we going to do with this product?" Colby says. "We used it in our pork dinners. We started the salumi bar, which has really been kind of a trial run. Then about a month ago we made the decision that moving forward we would do multiple nights. Once that decision came in, we decided we wanted to build the whole restaurant around the theme of the butcher.” Among the highlights of the new Chi Spacca will be a weekly Nose-to-Tail Feast every Saturday night.
Salumi on the first menu is divided into “whole muscles” (speck and capocollo), salami (oregano and baker’s spice sausages), pate and terrine (pork butter and testina) as well as whipped lardo as a bruschetta topping.
“I was talking to [Mozza co-owner and La Brea Bakery founder] Nancy [Silverton] and she pointed out that the way I started with cured meats is the same as the way she started with bread,” Colby said. “That made me excited and suitably humbled.
“The other day I was looking at the cures in the walk-in and I told her that I honestly didn’t know whether anybody was doing anything better right now and she said ‘I remember feeling the same way with bread 25 years ago.’ "
There will also be roast meats, including veal breast, lamb neck and veal and bone marrow pie, and grilled meats such as Red Wattle pork segretto and Moorish lamb shoulder chops.
Have no fear, there will also be fish and vegetable options – even salads. And as at the other Mozzas, Dahlia Narvaez will be doing desserts.
Main courses will run $25 to $30, with a few notable exceptions – that giant pork chop (easily splittable) will be $68 and that humongous bistecca will run $311 (how do they come up with these numbers?).
Dinners will be served in two seatings – at 6 and 8:15 p.m. Walk-ins will be seated at the bar beginning at 5:30, except on Saturday nights.
Chi Spacca is the latest Mozza project, overseen by the triumvirate of Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, which also includes Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza and Mozza2Go.
Chi Spacca, 6610 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 297-1133, chispsacca.com.