That Sucking Sound: The Gross and Greasy Glory of Roasted Marrowbones 

In L.A., the best are at Cut and Pizzeria Mozza

Wednesday, Jun 25 2008

Dear Mr. Gold,

Recently, we went on a trip to New York City and had a wonderful dish of roasted marrowbones, parsley and sea salt at Prune restaurant in the East Village. We loved it and we still reminisce about the dish. We’re willing to drive anywhere for marrowbones, but we don’t know where to go. Please help point us in the right direction.

—Nicole N., L.A.

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Dear Ms. N.,

Prune’s dish is undoubtedly Gabrielle Hamilton’s homage to the roasted marrowbones at the London restaurant St. John, Fergus Henderson’s temple of off-cuts, shot game and rare-breed meat that has no close equivalent in the United States — Henderson’s is a place that moves rolled spleen and roast squirrel the way Junior’s sells pastrami sandwiches. Like the Prune dish, Henderson’s bones are served with coarse salt and a salty mound of parsley chopped just enough to tame the marrow. You scoop a bit of the marrow onto a slice of toast, garnish it with the parsley and sprinkle on a few grains of salt — the flavor explodes in your mouth, beefy richness almost beyond description, punctuated with crunchy bursts of salinity and finally tempered by the bitterness of the herb. Eating marrowbones is as old as civilization — in a Norse legend, the mischievous god Loki prods a mortal into snapping open the roasted thighbone of one of Thor’s goats and sucking out the marrow. It is a transgressive act, feasting on an essence of the animal, which nature has guarded so fiercely. It is gross, greasy and wonderful.

Pizzeria Mozza has a fairly faithful rendition of Henderson’s marrowbone at the moment, roasted in the wood-burning oven, and served hot enough to do serious damage if you happen to touch the bone. But if I were going for the ultimate marrowbone experience in Los Angeles, I might still end up at the Beverly Hills steak house Cut, where the best single preparation may be the appetizer of marrow extracted from cooked veal bones, whirred with cream and egg yolk, then spooned back into the bones and baked in a warm-water bath until it sets into a kind of custard. It’s hard to imagine an improvement on an honestly roasted marrowbone, but Cut’s Lee Hefter just may have done the job. Cut is very, very expensive and hard to get into, but the marrowbone is cheerfully served in the bar a few steps across the lobby. 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 276-8500.

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