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4. Osteria Mozza:
Like the atmosphere at Osteria Mozza, the grilled octopus with potatoes, celery, fennel and lemon is pleasantly fancy. The thick pieces of meat lounge on a bright bed of greens and appear to be balancing on each other gracefully, like a circus duo. Although some consider that cooking octopus with corks is a kind of pastoral myth, co-owner Mario Batali's recipe calls for just that. Batali chooses octopus from Morocco, and Osteria Mozza's chefs prepare it by poaching it in olive oil before grilling it. The meat is charred and tender, and the salad adds a light and refreshing bite. 6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles; 323-297-0100.
3. Fig & Olive:
Fig & Olive serves its octopus a la Gallega carpaccio-style (sliced ultra-thin and chilly). But because it's not technically raw, you'll find the braised octopus under the appetizer -- not the carpaccio -- column. Chef George Lazi uses a one- to three-pound octopus because, he says, "Bigger is tougher." The successive circles of meat are surrounded by marinated bell peppers, fingerling potatoes, black olives, basil and arugula, and drizzled with pimenton lemon dressing and Cobrancosa olive oil. A server suggested a glass of Sancerre, which turned out to be a popular recommendation for octopus. 8490 Melrose Place, West Hollywood; 310-360-9100.
It shouldn't be too much of a surprise that, because it's located at LACMA, Ray's octopus appetizer looks a bit like a work of art. It's sprawled across burrata cheese and charred broccoli with Fresno chili purée, fennel and lemon-olive vinaigrette. Tender octopus is tastier, and to accomplish this, chef Kris Morningstar chooses a four- to six-pound octopus, mainly for plate presentation, and prepares it sous-vide for nine hours. The octopus is almost as soft as the burrata. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles; 323-857-6180.