Pairings: Duck alla porchetta and ‘Montestefano’ Barbaresco

Duck alla porchetta at Chi Spacca in Los Angeles, a match with Produttori del Barbaresco's 2007 "Montestefano" Barbaresco Riserva.
(S. Irene Virbila / Los Angeles Times)
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The other day, after a marathon amaro tasting at Osteria Mozza, I stepped over to the new Chi Spacca (6610 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 297-1133, next door in Mozza’s old Scuola di Pizza space for dinner. That’s the same place where pork lovers sign up for gargantuan nose-to-tail pig fests on Saturday nights. But Monday through Friday, chef Chad Colby is running this meat-centric restaurant, which has its origins in his Thursday night salumi bar.

Chi Spacca’s sign is a meat cleaver. Casual and fun, it seats just 30 with a handful more (walk-ins mostly) at the counter in front of the wood-burning grill and wood-fired oven.

Some of the main courses, such as the impressive Tomahawk pork chop, feed three or four. We were only two, and I couldn’t see ordering that or the even larger costata alla fiorentina (42 ounces!), so for this initial visit, I went with the whole duck alla porchetta, also meant to feed four ($74). Not that the two of us meant to eat the whole thing by ourselves. I figured the leftovers would make a terrific sandwich the next day.


Colby basically debones the duck and stuffs it with a forcemeat made from the duck legs and a little pancetta, then puts the duck back together and ties it up like a roast. Seated at the counter, we watched as he set the fat oval stuffed duck to one side of the griddle, turning it from time to time to render the skin. (It’s already been roasted before service.) As a final touch, it goes into the deep fat fryer to crisp the skin.

Mozza wine director Taylor Parsons has 15 or so wines chalked on a board and served by quartino (250 ml, or a 1/4 liter). He loves to open magnums for that purpose and that night he had a magnum of 2007 Produttori del Barbaresco “Montestefano” Barbaresco Riserva open, a wonderful match with that juicy duck porchetta. The Montestefano was silky and sensual, with notes of dark cherry, earth, rose petals and tar. It’s a big wine with tannins that are supple, but powerful.

A sip of Montestefano, a bite of duck = satisfaction.

Note: The sommelier will also do a customized wine pairing for your table, if you like. And $25 per person buys you “vini buoni” — good wine. Also, $50 means “vini piu buoni” — better wine. There’s one more tier “vini che spacca” — wines that will “split you asunder” (or at least that’s my translation) at market price. Bring money, lots of money.


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