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Mozza - another take

Finally went there on Friday after Thanksgiving. We went without reservations and the line formed at 11:45AM. As all the tables were reserved, we ended up at the bar, which filled up within minutes. There are actually 2 bars, with about 20 seats. I didn't realize it, but the action was mostly at the smaller bar in front of the oven. The service was very good at the bar, even though the bartender was ultra busy with all the food and drink orders.

I got the squash blossom appetizer. The batter was light - almost tempura like but with a harder crunch. I can't say I cared much for the stuffing inside. It had ricotta and I think mozzarella (something stringy), but in achieving something more refined than the normal version with just mozzarella and anchovies, it seems to have lost its soul, when I compared it against the versions I had many times in Italy.

We also got 3 pizzas - margherita, burrata and the egg one. The crust was just about perfect for my taste - soft, chewy, crispy all at the same time. I think Jonathan Gold nailed it. It was similar to the 'Pizza Bianca' at the Forno at Campo Fiori, except the way with the Mozza the pizza crust is shaped you get the very thin delicate center (ala Roman style), with the high rising edges that are more like the Italian Pizza Bianca (except less chewy). I personally loved the burrata pizza - the cheese matches very well with the delicate taste of the zucchini blossom, and the tomato sauce was a perfect accent. My husband preferred his egg pizza - with the egg yolks still a little bit runny, and the salty taste of the sliced guanciale and the anchovy sauce was completely opposite of the squash blossom pizza - rustic, earthy, salty and packed quite a punch.

The Margherita was only for those who liked bread. I think if that's the only pizza you ordered you would really be wondering what the fuss is about. The cheese was very sparse - even by Italian standard. The taste was good, but it definitely doesn't impress.

Nice thing with these pizza is that they reheat very well. We put the leftovers in the convention oven at 450 degrees for about 3 minutes and they are still very, very good.

Lastly, we wanted to get the fig crostada for dessert, but they were out, so we ended up with the butterscotch pudding instead. I love the top layer flavor - which tasted like molten sea-salt caramel; love to see that twirled in with a good fiore de latte gelato. For the pudding itself the flavor was good, but it is a little sweet without the sea-salt caramel sauce, and a little bit more grainy textured than I would like. I hated the accompanying cookies. It doesn't seem to match well with the pudding, plus it's ultra buttery when the pudding was rich already. Kind of like attempting to gild the lily. The cookie also seems to have some cornmeal in it, which lodged in my teeth and won't budge.

This place does deliver - if it wasn't for the fact that it's a good hour drive there for me, I'll be there more often. As it is I will definitely order more pizzas that we can consume next time so that we can have great leftovers to tie us over.

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  1. I was at Mozza on the Friday after thanksgiving, myself.

    We went mid-afternoon, knowing that reservations for tables were full, but were told that seats at the pizza and wine bar areas were first come, first served. We sat down at the pizza bar around 4:30 and had a first-hand view of all the pizza making action.

    We started with two glasses of the tocai fruliano and one of the rosato. I love a restaurant that has a true tocai on the menu, so was happy there. We also had the squash blossom appetizer, and it was very good -- light and tasted like it was stuffed with burrata rather than ricotta. There were five blossoms, which was a mistake on our part in ordering -- better for one or two, rather than three, to share. In other words, it was tasty but small for three ;-)

    We had three pizzas, the gorganzola dolce, the burrata and the tre funghi, and all were excellent. It was one of those fortuitous moments where everyone was happy with what they ordered. I tried all three, and each pizza was perfect in it's way. Perfect amount of topping, perfect texture -- crisp, yet tender and chewy crust, and very flavorful toppings. We actually LOVED it, and I don't dine out often where that's the concensus amongst the table.

    To top it off, we shared the butterscotch budino. I'd actually DARE you to find a better dessert, anywhere. It was divine!

    I'm not sure what the scuttlebutt on this board is over whether it's real pizza or not, but the food sure is tasty at Mozza. I'll be going back to try other items asap (I was dining with vegetarians, so didn't get to sample any of the proscuitto, etc., and as I witnessed it being plated from my seat at the pizza counter, I am hankering to try it and other meat items).

    The service was good, despite it being busy. Our waiter appeared both knowledgeable and happy to be working there. Over all, it was a very good food experience. I loved it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DanaB

      Nope, the filling is definitely ricotta, plus I am guessing a tad bit of buffalo mozzarella. The menu said ricotta, but when I cut the piece in half the center kind of oozes and was stringy. We also have 3 people and 5 pieces was enough, as 2 of us didn't care for it. Anyway, I just liked the more robust version better (the one I can actually pick up with fingers since the Mozza one just flopped when I attempted to lift it).

      The budino was good, but I don't think it is up to the raves here. The cookies really detracted from the whole dessert. Hum, I think memorable desserts were the ones I had at Campanile a few years back (now it's so-so), especially the rustic apple dessert. Other desserts I had that were good elsewhere included any chocolate ones at the Lenotre branch at Vegas, and the pear almond tart I had in Paris (that's at a bakery, however).

      I too enjoyed Mozza, but I enjoyed the main event - the pizza - more than the sides. That's the way it should be for a 'pizzeria'.

    2. Interesting continued feedback. I drive by there every day and it is very tempting on my way home. Do they really deliver? I called on Friday and they told me that they do not, and I live within a mile. I think this might be one of those places that appeals to people differently so I will just have to try myself.

      6 Replies
      1. re: cleandaisy

        I would be surprised if they deliver, or even if they did take-out. With them just opening, and every seat in the place being occupied, and all the pizzas being hand-made to order, and the wood oven only being so big, and Nancy Silverton herself overseeing each pizza before it goes out to be served, I just don't see it as a restaurant that catered to a take-out business.

        1. re: DanaB

          They do take out of pizza. I have seen it several times. As well as pizza, the oven does the baking for the panini, which is a smaller version of the pizza crust, so there is a lot of pressure on the oven. I have been there several times now, have had 6 different pies already, and my favorite so far is the fennel sausage. I agree with notmartha about the Margherita. One of these days I'll tell Nancy my thoughts about that pie, because she always asks me how my pie was. I always go on Tues because that is crispy duck day, which is my favorite of all the non pizza dishes. I have found the staff to be cheerful, dedicated, and they love working there. Willy, who is the wine director is giving me a wine education. He is very knowledgeable and his suggestions about what wine to have with various dishes have always been on the money.

          1. re: pizzafreak

            Will is awesome...he's a true brother in the field of wine and pizza! Having dined there a couple of times and spoke with him, I can vouch, he's awesome!

        2. re: cleandaisy

          I'm guessing the op's "they deliver" comment was meant as in, there's a lot of hype, and a few negatives, but overall the place delivers...

          1. re: sll

            Lol! I didn't even see that might be where the poster who asked about "delivery" might be coming from!

            1. re: sll

              Yes - that's what I meant - the hype. I guess if they truly do a delivery service they will be up to their eyeballs in orders! LOL

              It's funny, but while we wait there on Friday there's a gentlemen who seems to be in a hurry. Didn't care about the line, didn't care that the door is locked tight 15 minutes before opening. Just want to get in there and order a pie to go ASAP and since he didn't need a seat he didn't need to heed the line of 20-30 people either!

              Guess people are getting desperate.

          2. I tried Mozza yesterday afternoon(Saturday after Thanksgiving) as a walk-in, since I was nearby and am not usually in the area. Since I was by myself, I had virtually no wait for a seat at the bar, even tho' the place was jammed to the gills (and I heard the reservationist tell someone that they were "fully committed" (not my words) 31 days ahead!!).

            At the suggestion of the very nice bartender, who took my order, I had the prosciutto di Parma pizza with arrugola and mozzarella ($14). I had wanted a salad as well but they were all rather high priced (basically sized for 2), so he thought I would enjoy the reasonably generous portion of arrugola that comes with the prosciutto. And I did!

            I don't know enough to debate New York or Italian pizza dough, but I know this was a very tasty concoction--about the right size for one hungry person or two with a shared salad. I thought the crust was terrific personally. The guy sitting next to me spent some time in Naples last year and was taken by a local friend to the "best pizzeria in Naples" (don't remember the name--something like Pizza Michele maybe) and this guy thought Mozza's pizza very authentic in fact. This is the third time he's eaten there and he's crazy about it.

            I had a lovely little carafe of the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo ($8).

            Incidentally, I had a great time by myself at the wine bar and would definitely go back alone--in fact, if you don't want to wait, I'd recommend eating solo there. Average waits for 2 at the bar seemed to be around a half-hour. I was introduced to Will, the wine director, and asked him about some Italian equivalents of a recent Spanish Rioja that I liked, and he very kindly drew up a rather long list. I did not encounter a hint of attitude among the staff.

            I personally don't understand the negative comments (didn't hear any while I was there--everybody around me seemed thrilled with the food). I'm going back as soon as I can afford the calories.

            5 Replies
            1. re: ThatPat

              I don't really think the comments are about the food...it's more the hype. I went, and while a nice neighborhood joint, certainly something I can't imagine reserving for weeks, or even days, in advance.

              I think the buzz around this restaurant is indicative of how restaurant starved this city really is - I can't think of a new restaurant I've been excited to go to in the last twenty four months at least! That's pretty depressing - especially coming from someone who grew up in NYC...

              Manku

              1. re: manku

                I completely agree about it not being the sort of place to reserve a month in advance. Maybe some people don't realize they take walk-ins for seats at the bars. But people always want the NEXT BIG THING, irrespective of what it is. Mozza is that for the moment. But there have been a number of comments by pizza experts who say the crust (or the topping to crust ratio for that matter) is not up to snuff. No accounting for taste, that's fo' sure.

                1. re: ThatPat

                  I personally have eaten pizza at the "best" pizza place in Naples as well as other restaurants there and in other parts of Italy, at all the best places in NY, Boston and New Haven, and I think the crust at Mozza is terrific.

                  Whenever a place is "hyped," there always have to be the naysayers. I say judge for yourself.

                  1. re: DanaB

                    I think the naysayers are really not used to the crust variation of thickness and sparse toppings. It's really in a league of its own, no matter how one tries to compare to NY, Boston or Italian pizzas.

                    Like I said before, when it's good, it's good, so who cares that it's not like NY, or whatever style.

                    Lastly, I think the price of this restaurant isn't prohibitive, it's not like a $150-300 per person place that the masses can't enjoy. Yes - the pizza is a bit expensive for the size, but any middle class American can pay for a fine $30pp meal, even if once in a while instead of every week. Maybe it just means that there's a niche for casual, good quality, non-chain restaurants that's moderate in price here.

                    1. re: DanaB

                      the crust is fine...it's the sauce and fillings that are meager...

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