Themed restaurants can be fun; especially food-related ones where the chef’s imagination runs wild, like the garlic ice cream at the Stinking Rose. If mozzarella cheese happens to be your weakness, you should visit Century City’s Obika.

Centered on the mighty Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP (the authentic stamp of denomination of protected origin), Obika serves fresh, high-quality cheese. The mozzarella is produced near Rome and shipped to Los Angeles at least three times a week; no matter how many times you visit, you’ll have the same experience.

In fact, most of the menu’s fresh ingredients are direct from the home country of Italy. A nice twist to the Obika experience is the slight Japanese flair in the presentation of your meal, as well as the ambiance that surrounds you. It kind of feels like you are sitting at a sushi bar, and that’s no mistake.

When restaurateur Silvio Ursini traveled to Japan he was inspired by the cutting-edge presentations Japanese cuisine is known for. There, he opened what has now become an international phenomenon. The hand-formed mozzarella stands out best when served from the tasting menu, which offers three different types, including smoked, ricotta and the ultimate, burrata.

These are paired with obligatory prosciutto di Parma, heat-cured mortadella and a fennel-infused sausage called Finocchiona with a hint of peppery goodness. You can mix and match your accoutrements:  fresh, juicy cherry tomatoes with pesto, purple artichokes soaked in olive oil or even smoked salmon. Burrata with caponata will be your best friend.

Speaking of best friends, most of the cheeses derive from water buffalo milk, lowering your cholesterol and giving you high protein and calcium for strong bones. What a win-win situation!

There is a bevy of appetizers to start with, especially since you need something to pair with the outstanding wine Obika offers. Beef carpaccio melds with the Nebbiolo as well as the proscuitto. Should you prefer white, try the dry finish of Puglia’s Petra chardonnay. I enjoyed the signature martini with my spicy plate of salami and tomato crostini. Obika’s beer list doesn’t skimp either, so should you find yourself craving a tall, cold one, you’re in luck.

The labor-intensive, hand-rolled mozzarella with the salted beef, known as Bresaola and Arugula, gives your tummy a run for the money. All of the I Rotoli (hand rolled) are huge portions and meant to be enjoyed as a full entrée. In keeping with the Japanese overtones of the evening, you can order “omakase” style dishes to mix and match. I recommend the handmade stuffed ravioli with ricotta and spinach, the Tonno tuna with baby lettuce, caper berries and baked olives or the layered aubergine (purple eggplant) parmigiana.

The dessert is not to be outdone, and so the fluffy ricotta mouse sprinkled with honey, orange and pine nuts will blow your mind. I’d go for the tasting of the three desserts so you can try the tiramisu, meringues with melon and chocolate almond cake. Delicioso!

Obika is easily accessible, menu wise and travel wise, as it’s located in the always-popular Westfield Century City. There’s plenty of outdoor seating should the mood fit, and if you go on a Thursday, you can watch all the old-school ballroom dancers learn how to waltz, tango and polka.

For more information, please call (310) 556-2452 or visit