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MOZZA review with photos.........

tokyoastrogirl Nov 10, 2006 05:29 PM

Photos here: http://tokyoastrogirl.blogspot.com/2006/11/restaurant-review-mozza-last-night-i.html

Restaurant review: MOZZA

Last night I had the chance to preview MOZZA, the much-anticipated (talk about an understatement) and much-hyped pizzeria owned and operated by Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton. Foodies and pizza-lovers have been waiting for the opening, and much as already been written about the place, including a story on a recent salami theft there. Yes, people break into restaurants to steal $700 worth of salami......so it must be good, right?

Good can't even begin to describe. I must warn you- if you get annoyed by raving restaurant reviews, stop reading now because it's all love from me, baby. And before you start accusing me of working for them or getting paid to do this, let me stop you. In the interest of full disclosure, I do know the Executive Chef and the Manager/Sommelier very well- we've been friends for a while. That said, I would never pretend to like something that a friend made if it wasn't good. Never. Well, maybe if my 96-year-old grandma ever made me cookies and asked if I liked them and I didn't, I may fib a little and say yes. Other than that, why would I insult my friends or family when they are well aware of my obsession with food?

Now that we've gotten the formalities out of the way, let's begin.

The space is medium sized, with high ceilings and a "pizza bar" where you can see the wood-burning oven surrounded by several chefs in full view. It's casual in a very refined way and not at all formal. There is a beautiful bar that takes up one wall but it has a nice, relaxed atmosphere and was certainly bustling last night. One thing- the place is LOUD. In fact, I must say it was one of the loudest restaurants I'd been to in recent memory. Hopefully something can be done to remedy that problem.

We started with 2 glasses of the Tuscan Morellino di Scansano Sangiovese ($10) which came in larger-than-I've-seen personal decanters. Since I had viewed the menu online awhile back, I knew the one started that I had to have- a bruschette of Chicken Livers, Capers, Parsley and Guanciale ($8). I absolutely love chicken liver- my dad used to make it for supper and I've loved it ever since. I don't see it often on restaurant menus so I jumped at the chance to try their version. What can I say? It was the ultimate bruschette. The chicken livers were sautéed and slightly mashed but still very chunky. Spread on thin slices of grilled bread and topped with paper-thin crisps of guanciale, it was MADE for consumption with the sangiovese and just heavenly. I must warn you how decadently rich it truly is, but my god- food just doesn't really get much better than this. The guanciale is extremely salty but the chicken liver mixture is not, so balance is achieved.

We chose the Eggplant Caponata ($6) which ended up being the perfect compliment to the salty bruschette in that it was tender, cool and sweet. The small bowl had large chunks of melt-in-your-mouth eggplant tossed with pine nuts and currants all coated in a sweet glaze. I must say, there were way too many pine nuts in the dish and I would have preferred to have a slight sprinkling of them on top, but overall the flavors were delicious. It really was a nice contrast to the richness of the chicken liver. J and I agreed that these two small plates would be the perfect after-work dinner, washed down with a bottle of wine, of course;).

And now, what the place is famous and will eventually become legendary for, the pizza. Oh, the pizza my friends. Of course we had to start with the classic Margherita with Mozzarella, Tomato & Basil ($10). The minute our waiter sat the pie down on the table, we were hit with the aroma of fresh basil....it was intoxicating. The pizza was thin in the center and absolutely bulbous with air bubbles around the perimeter. We dug right in and yes- it was truly the best pizza I'd ever eaten in my life. The Mozza Margherita is perfect in its simplicity of fresh, crushed tomatoes, torn basil and a light sprinkling of mozzarella. The crust was thin but held everything together well and had the perfect chew and slightly yeasty flavor. This was special.............until.........

...the next pie came. The Burrata, Escarole, Bacon & Caramelized Shallots pizza ($13) arrived at our table, topped with obscene globs of creamy white burrata and small chunks of pork belly. I love how Mozza means "smoked pork belly" when they say "bacon." I took a bite and promptly went to confession. Ok, I didn't but how could anything this could not be a mortal sin??? The same glorious crust of the margherita was now holding the beautiful green escarole, the chunks of richly fatty pork and topped by the coolest, creamiest burrata. Each bite was a combination of the slightly chewy crust and all the flavors of the freshest toppings. Now THIS was something truly special.

We'd consumed quite a bit of some glorious food, but nothing could prepare me for what was yet to come. We were served two different dessert wines, and although the pale, sparkling Stella Rosa Il Conte d' Alba ($7.50) was smooth and flowery, the 2005 Moscato d'Asti ($8) was a revelation. It's red color defied it's crisp, moscato flavor and it was, quite truly, almost like eating the grape itself. Such a wonderful find!

And what did we eat with these lovely glasses of wine? The Soffiata w/ Yogurt Gelato and Amarena Cherries ($7) was nice-almond puffs, tangy gelato and sweet cherries topped with a light sprinkling of pistachios. A classic flavor combination. However, it was completely overshadowed by what I will, on record, say is the best dessert I've had at any restaurant this year. The Butterscotch Budino with Rosemary-Pine Nut Biscotti ($7) was the richest custard I've ever eaten with a deep caramel/butterscotch flavor. One bite is rich enough to send you over the edge, yet somehow, you find your spoon going in for another scoop, and yet another. Then you see that now your spoon has taken a dollop of the budino and put it on top of one of the two crunchy cookies that come on the plate and before you know it- it's all in your mouth. Your senses pick up the slightly burnt caramel sweetness combined with what must be the best sea salt and it all comes together with a hint of rosemary from the biscotti. If you've been looking for the ultimate in butterscotch puddings, your search has just ended here.

As we rolled ourselves out of the restaurant, we made plans to hit the treadmill with extra vigor and, of course, to return to Mozza many times over. I implore you to take a trip to Mozza with an empty stomach and prepare to eat some of the finest pizza, if not THE finest pizza, Los Angeles has ever seen.

Mozza opens Tuesday, November 14th and is open 7 days a week from noon to midnight.

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles
www.mozza-la.com
323 297 0101

  1. k
    kevin Nov 10, 2006 05:44 PM

    does it open, tues nite or at lunch/ and any clue if we can get the same menu at lunch as at dinner? i can't wiat, you had me at butterscoth pudding.

    1. kingkong5 Nov 10, 2006 05:45 PM

      What a great review tokyoastrogirl! I can't wait to give Mozza a try once they have opened. Are the pies very large for $13; how many people would it feed?

      1 Reply
      1. re: kingkong5
        tokyoastrogirl Nov 10, 2006 05:50 PM

        Kevin: I believe they open at noon on Tuesday and the menu looks like it will be the same all day long.

        Kingkong: The pies are medium and the crust is so light that honestly, it probably wouldn't be enough for two people unless you ordered a salad or antipasti to go with one. It certainly wouldn't be enough for two chowhounds, ha.

      2. Alimentary My Dear Watson Nov 10, 2006 06:00 PM

        Great review. And I love that it's open 'til midnight...I'm hoping the hordes will thin a bit around 11.

        1. notmartha Nov 10, 2006 09:17 PM

          Thanks for review. That looks sooooo good. Unfortunately it will probably be months before I can get a reservation there.

          1. h
            HBfoodie Nov 10, 2006 09:48 PM

            Sorry to rain on everyone's parade, but judging by this review and its photos, REAL pizza lovers will still be looking for their pies because MOZZA sure looks like another one of those "Foo-Foo" California food places that people on the east coast ridicule us for.

            16 Replies
            1. re: HBfoodie
              Tinitime Nov 10, 2006 10:43 PM

              We all know it doesn't rain in CA, and we also know that Mozza is the creation of one the greatest East Coast Italian chefs. So what planet do you hail from?

              1. re: Tinitime
                p
                pizzafreak Nov 10, 2006 10:56 PM

                While Mario Batali is one of the owners, the driving force behind Mozza is Nancy Silverton who is very well known in LA as a baker extraordinaire. At the preview I attended on Sun, Nov 4, Mario didn't show up. You are so wrong about the pizza, unless you are one of those Casa Bianca lovers. I can tell you that the pizza is superb, having had some, and no one is more of a pizza lover than me. And who cares what east coast people say, Mozza is here to stay and I will be there a lot.

                http://new.photos.yahoo.com/donbirra/

                1. re: Tinitime
                  h
                  HBfoodie Nov 11, 2006 12:26 AM

                  I live in So. Calif., a region of the country that is known pizza-wise for Wolfgang Puck and California Pizza Kitchens---and for pizza toppings (like I saw in the photos of Mozza's) that would excite my bunny rabbit!

                  1. re: HBfoodie
                    s
                    SoCal Foodie Nov 11, 2006 02:51 AM

                    Why don't you share what your favorite real pizza places are.

                    1. re: SoCal Foodie
                      h
                      HBfoodie Nov 11, 2006 05:39 AM

                      Like I first mentioned, we REAL pizza eaters in So. Calif. are still looking!

                      1. re: HBfoodie
                        p
                        pizzafreak Nov 11, 2006 04:14 PM

                        That says exactly nothing.

                        1. re: pizzafreak
                          e
                          epop Nov 11, 2006 06:10 PM

                          so true, pizzafreak. it is tiresome to hear about "real"... there are many great pies in LA, + as a new yorker i would venture to say more here in LA than there, where the pizza is very often highly disappointing (and i've been to all the great ones). that said, Otto in nyc has incredible pizzas, more like Antica than others. hope for the same with Mozza.

                          the beauty of pizza is in the variations, when done well, be it the different chicago styles, ny, etc.

                          1. re: epop
                            therealbigtasty Nov 12, 2006 02:03 AM

                            Thank You! I like all the different styles of pizza. Chicago style and New York are both valid forms of pizza expression, and having had Mozza's pizza myself, I'll say it's excellent or beyond so...

                          2. re: pizzafreak
                            h
                            HBfoodie Nov 11, 2006 10:20 PM

                            It says that SoCal still lacks the pizza that so many experience on the opposite side of the country. Oh, there are places that come close, like Damianos on Fairfax, but my last visit there a few months ago resulted in a very disappointing pizza... I just reacted negatively to the photo of Mazzo's pizza because I was disappointed to see that it looked like another "California" pizza. I will eventually give it a try----and it'll probably taste very good---but I doubt that it will be the traditional kind of pizza experience that what I call "real" pizza eaters long for here in SoCal.

                            1. re: HBfoodie
                              f
                              FED Nov 11, 2006 11:41 PM

                              does it trouble you at all that most italians would regard those "california" pizzas as a lot more "real" than the new york ones?

                              1. re: HBfoodie
                                Mr Taster Nov 12, 2006 12:49 AM

                                It depends where you go. The pizza I had in northern Italy (Modena area) was exactly like a good New York style pizza except that the pie is meant to be consumed all by you and is eaten with a knife and fork. Damiano's is nothing like NY pizza. They toss the crust so thin that when you pick it up the cheese falls through the hole. Lamonica's, Larchmont Pizza and Slice of NY in seal beach come closest. Vito's (RIP) had it pegged.

                                Mr Taster

                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                  notmartha Nov 12, 2006 03:10 AM

                                  Well, even within Italy different regions have different styles. We had pizza at Sirimione (northern Italy, near Lake Garda), and it was not as cheesy as NY style, although similar in crust thickness. Roman style pizza's crust is so thin that I swear you can read newspapers through it, and when we were at Sicily the crust was incredibly thick - almost felt like I was eating a hoagie.

                                  Anyway, my point is I agree with other posters that pizza had morphed into many, many forms, with different style crust and different toppings. I think anything goes and as long as it's fresh and good - who cares?!

                                  Personally I am looking for a thin crust - crispy with a slight chewiness, not too charred, and not too much topping. So the picture for the Mozza with the traditional Margherita style looks like it may fit the bill. My favorite is still the roman style, with anchovies and zucchini blossoms, but I doubt I will find that in the US.

                                  1. re: Mr Taster
                                    e
                                    epop Nov 17, 2006 04:00 PM

                                    Having spent much time there I never had a pizza in Italy that resembled a NY slice in any way.

                                    To discuss pizza is much like discussing bread. There are many variations and great ones within each style. Not Wonder or most American processed breads, that's for sure. But when done naturally, all have some virtue.

                                    East-coasters haven't a throne from which to discuss what is REAL pizza. Again, as someone who has spent a great deal of time around the world and lived in NYC for 20 years I like the NYC pizzas the least of all of them. But that's a preference, not something I can say REAL to.

                                2. re: HBfoodie
                                  p
                                  pizzafreak Nov 12, 2006 12:13 AM

                                  The menu is available. www.mozzala.com. If you are looking for a pepperoni pie, it's not there, nor is a mushroom pie, nor a garlic pie. There are 2 "plain" pies, the rest are Nancy's creations.

                                  1. re: pizzafreak
                                    anthonyrza Nov 12, 2006 12:49 AM

                                    actually it's www.mozza-la.com
                                    rZA~

                          3. re: HBfoodie
                            Bon Vivant Nov 11, 2006 01:35 AM

                            If the pizza is anything like the pizza at Batali's Otto then LA is in for a real treat! Otto pizza is fantastic!

                            http://myculinaryadventures.blogspot.com

                      2. Hypnotic23 Nov 10, 2006 11:16 PM

                        Thank you, this place looks terrific!

                        I cant wait to try it :>)

                        ~Stuart~

                        1. p
                          pizzafreak Nov 11, 2006 02:52 AM

                          If you are alluding to just a plain pie or similar being your favorite, I am in your corner. When I was served, they only had two selections, and both were what you might call California style. I prefer my pies simple, just tomato, cheese, oo, maybe a pinch of oregano and or garlic and that's it. I am certain that when I go to Mozza and get my plain pie, it will look exactly the same as the sausage pie except for the stuff on top, and will taste as great if not better than Patsy's on 1st and 117 in NYC, which is my NYC favorite.

                          1. russkar Nov 11, 2006 09:55 PM

                            A Good friend of mine(Industry person) was there also last night and wasn't very happy overall. Hopefully the kinks will be worked out before too long, otherwise there will be lots of unhappy posts.

                            1. c
                              Carnivore Nov 12, 2006 03:25 AM

                              Do they offer a Marinara, or Nepolitana pizza, the one with no cheese and tons of garlic? God I could kill for one those. But man is 10 dollars the cheapest pie? It better fill me up, or I don't want it. Nothing worse than an "authentic pizza" that comes out real small and makes you feel gypt by foodie elitists.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Carnivore
                                e
                                epop Nov 17, 2006 04:02 PM

                                you'll need to bring your own garlic and order 2, carnivore

                              2. f
                                fooddude37 Nov 12, 2006 07:56 PM

                                I haven't been there yet (making a res tomorrow) but from what I can tell from the preliminaries and photos is they use very very good quality base ingredients. Did I read somewhere that they use imported Italian pizza flour? I wanted to order that once but when I found out how expensive it is I settled for American hard flour. I don't think the emphasis here is "filling you up", and I don't think anyone could claim that the intent here is for elitists to gyp the general public. Anyone who spends that much on Italian pizza flour is obviously passionate about sharing something great with the rest of us lucky souls.

                                But hey, make it easier for my reservation and don't go ;P

                                1. f
                                  FoodieMcFood Nov 14, 2006 07:35 PM

                                  I admit I haven't yet been to the place (but will soon), but doesn't the story in the LA Times about the stolen salume seem a little fishy? Yuppies on bikes in LA? Hippies, maybe but not yuppies. And how do you carry 40 pounds of salume on a bike? It's hard not to laugh thinking about a bald man with khakis on a bike with cured meat hanging from his handlebars...

                                  That said, I can't wait to try it out.

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