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Pizzeria Mozza - your thoughts

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My sister was in town and I'd gotten a late night dinner reservation @ Pizzeria Mozza. I'm originally a New Yorker who's spending the summer in LA so I was pretty excited to see what the west coast take on Otto was. I started off with the Rucola, funghi & Piave salad, which was excellent. Simple, yet delicious - the mushrooms were really flavorful without being overpowering. But entrees came and I was really disappointed. Now I know some west coasters don't see why New Yorkers make such a big deal about NY pizza, but really, the pizzas @ Pizzeria Mozza were just an oily mess. The bread-y crust I could overlook because because it has a great deal to do with the water, but both pizzas we ordered (Clams, garlic, oregano, parmigiano & pecorino and Long cooked broccoli, caciocavallo & chiles) were just WAY too oily. I felt like I was picking up a pizza marinated in olive oil. It was really a shame because the flavors of the pizza toppings went really well together and had they not drenched my pizzas, I would've been really happy.

What are your thoughts on this place? Anyone with a similar experience? Is Osteria Mozza a much better deal?

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  1. I also just went there and sat at the counter. Everything WAS just marinated in olive oil, I could see them drizzling it on the pizzas from where I was sitting...

    Overall I thought the pizzas were good (I liked the prosciutto+rocula combination, etc) but nothing AMAZING or anything.
    Osteria Mozza was better, but then again more expensive.
    I saw a lot of the salad you had going around and it looked really2 good! I didn't have it but now really wanna try it ..

    --burumun
    http://gourmetpigs.blogspot.com

    3 Replies
    1. re: burumun

      Here you go 60 comments on Mozza http://www.chowhound.com/topics/405016
      Yes, you are right about the olive oil, but ours wasn't that overbearing and very tasty, but I did get one with sauce(no oil( that was excellent for one of three we had.

      1. re: burumun

        From what you are saying, " I could see them drizzling it (the oil) on the pizzas from where I was sitting"...Mozza has changed their way of making the pie. What they used to do was stretch out the dough, put it on a peel, then BRUSH on a slight amount of olive oil on the base, keeping the oil off the end crust before putting on the toppings, Can you confirm actual drizzling oil from a can before putting it into the oven? I haven't been there in a few weeks, always sit at the pizza bar, and have never seen them drizzle oil onto a pie.

        1. re: pizzafreak

          Was just there last night and sat at the pizza bar. I didn't pay attention to the *before the oven* preparation, but they don't drizzle oil on any cooked pizzas except the margarita pizza.

      2. I actually really liked the pizza. I just found the ambiance and price and attitude not to my personal liking.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Diana

          I posted my long version here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/525303
          but I basically agree with Diana.

        2. it's good food -- the beets w/horseradish are great; the fried squash blossoms are amazing; the pizzas are cooked perfectly and the toppings are delcious. the wine/beer selection could use some work. the butterscotch budino is delightful.

          unfortunately, the vibe of the staff makes it seems as if they wish you hadn't come to "their" restaurnat. they are extremely rude, typically seat you later than your reservation, and rush you through the meal. it's very offputting and leaves you feeling - food was great, but i feel like crap. and i've had a mixed bag - sometimes the attitude is only slightly awful. but most of the time it's torture.

          6 Replies
          1. re: dtud

            dtud, I want to recommend sitting at the bar. I usually go in between 5:00 and 6:00 mid-week, and I'm always treated very well by the staff. Possible reasons: (1) I'm by myself, (2) it's that "in-between" time so they're not stressed, (3) or maybe it's just because they know me now due to my frequent visits. Whatever the reason, the bar is the way to go and reservations aren't needed. As for the food, I love their pizzas but I've been on a sandwich kick lately and they make some great panini's. But I always start out with an order of the squash blossoms and the peppers stuffed with tuna. One of my favorite places to eat.

            1. re: omakase

              thanks for the tip - but i'm rarely ever able to get out of work by then. . . c'est la vie. the food is great, but the vibe is not. oh well. it's just always a choice to balance being treated like a varmint and having a tasty meal. . . sometimes i'm willing to take it, sometimes not. lately - more likely not.

            2. re: dtud

              Agree...I actually hate this place and cannot for the life of me understand how so many Angeleno's can fall for the incredible hype and mystique that surrounds both the pizzeria and the osteria. The pizzeria is much worse, but both restaurants are uncomfortable and unbearably noisy, the servers are frequently rude and spilling over with attitude, and the food although sometimes pretty good, is also often quite mediocre. I just don't get it...why anyone puts up with it?

              1. re: josephnl

                four letter word: "vibe"

                1. re: josephnl

                  People put up with it because (a) the food is excellent, and (b) Italian food is generally pretty lousy in LA. I'm still annoyed with Jonathan Gold for sending me to La Terza.

                  1. re: josephnl

                    L.A. is filled with rude eateries. Father's Office's workers and policies are amazingly off the wall. There's even a modest little sandwich shop in San Gabriel called the Stuffed Sandwich where the workers mock you for not knowing "how to order." These are just three places like that off the top of my head. We shouldn't spend our money at places like that. Maybe that would send a message instead of just talking about.

                2. a NY style pizza is at least twice as oily as any Mozza pizza. mozza pizzas or not more oily than any other kind of pizza.

                  I personally have never had a better pizza than the ones at Mozza. Why? Because I prefer the "bread-y" and west coast style.

                  To each their own I guess.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: jlrobe

                    I thought Mozza was among the best pizzas I've ever tasted. I didn't find the pizzas overly oiled. And I thought the bready crust was the best thing on earth. Was Nancy Silverton there? Maybe it's a quality control issue.

                    I "get" NY pizza, but I think the water thing is a myth. A lot of pizzas can't even get the basics right like cheese and sauce, and bread is much harder. It's like the quality of Mexican food in NY. It has more to do with the culture of the region and people making it, than any one ingredient.

                    1. re: david t.

                      I think the water thing is a myth, too. Igrew up right outside NYC, so I'm used to thin crispy-crust pizza. I live in Maine now and when I couldn't find real New York style pizza here, I decided to make my own. It took me wading through a bunch of different dough recipes, but I finally found one (Wolfgang Puck's, go figure) that produces a crispy crackery-thin crust. It's all in the proportions of flour to water and how you stretch the dough. As far as oil, I've never heard of putting oil on a pizza after sauce and toppings are applied unless it's a margarita pie or white pie. Otherwise you spread a little around the center of the dough (not on the crust) before adding sauce.

                      1. re: SharaMcG

                        Mozza does put oil (and salt) on its crust. This is part of what makes the pizza there its own thing, unique. (And delicious.)

                  2. All Angelo a block away is a far better choice.

                    1. You know what? The average slice of pizza in NYC can be pretty darn awful--you need to know where to go to find great pizza and if you just randomly walk in to an unknown pizza shop, more often or not you'll find yourself gumming through an oily, doughy mess. You can say the same thing about bagels--basically, they suck, here in LA and NY, and it has nothing to do with the water and 100 percent to do with the decline of bread baking as a trade. I assert this as someone who lived in NY for 18 years and had his fair share of great, truly great pizza, and also pizzas that fill you with dispair.

                      The bready crust you decry is actually what makes Nancy Silverton's recipe so great; it's not trying to mimic another form of pizza, neopolitan or otherwise--it's her riff, which you may love or hate. That said, I've had several pizzas at Mozza that made me want to resort to an old NY trick, which is to take a paper napkin and let it lie gently on the surface of the pizza for a few seconds to absorb some of the excess oil. Oh, another trick I just remembered from NY: folding the pizza length-wise and letting the oil drip into your paper plate.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: choucroutegarni

                        You hit many nails on their perspective heads. Lots has happened over the years with bread making. NUMBER ONE no more bromide in flour in many states (including california). Taking away bromide is like taking away lard from tortillas. No more hydrogenated oils, there is no real replacement. Instead of retarding dough's (sometimes letting them sit for days in a refrigerator, they now add conditioners and just proof (warm) dough for a brief time. Did a long review of Mozza when it first opened, you really nailed it, she's trying to do something different, and I too like it. There's enough decent traditional places around, and as stated above I'm okay with the oil.

                      2. Bready? I thought the crust was very thin and crispy at Mozza. While I do think this place is very overhyped, I did enjoy my meal there (particularly the chicken liver crostini that had a nice lemony flavor to cut the richness) and did not encounter any attitude from the servers

                        1. To be fair...the broccoli pizza is one of their weak items on the menu. I have tried it twice and it always come out soggy. The flavors are good but the limpness is not. I love practically everything else on the menu.

                          1. Surprised to read so many harsh reviews here. I've been eating pizza my whole life, as have we all, I've had much of the best in NY, New Haven, Chicago, LA (sadly not yet Italy). Mozza is clearly one of the better pies anywhere. I guess it could be "not your style", but jeez, it's just pretty damn good food. And I think it might transcend "types" of pizza and be somewhat unique. "Original and great" is my review. (As for the oiliness -- totally! -- good oiliness!) (Oh, and the fennel sausage is a must -- then branch out from there)

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: la tache burger

                              Even if you say, "it's pretty good food", why do you want to put up with the intolerable noise level, the wait, the rude servers, the attitude, the uncomforable tables (needing to sqeeze into your seat....and G-d forbid you need to go to the restroom during your meal) and the overall unpleasantness of the place? I just don't get it...but perhaps I am in the minority, but many agree with me.

                              1. re: josephnl

                                mozza is definitely a polarizing experience. Many hate the busyness of the place., but there are others who are reminded of the "new yorkness" of the place. In other words, the intolerable noise level, brisk waiters, lack of personal space etc.

                                1. re: david t.

                                  Funny, "intolerable noise level" is something I associate more with restaurants out west. It's the larger spaces and higher ceilings.

                                  1. re: david t.

                                    To me (yes, I am an ex-New Yorker), "new yorkiness" is best represented by NY restaurants such as the Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Cafe, Aureole, Cafe Boulud, Le Bernardin and other less expensive and fancy places which are all busy places, but are nevertheless establishments where guests are comfortable, treated with respect and professionalism and able to dine well and talk...yes talk!...in comfort. Mozza is none of these. Mozza would fail in New York...and once it's trendiness wears off here, it will likely fail as well.

                                    1. re: david t.

                                      For a and w: Agree that there is nothing great in L.A., but honestly in my opinion the finest meals I have had in Italy, are the simplest...and some of this is not too hard to replicate at home with excellent ingredients. (My most memorable lunch in Italy was a simple bowl of linguine, with a perfect olive oil, and a fresh black truffle grated over it...and nothing more!) Nevertheless, I guess I would pick Valentino, Vincenti, Campanile (more Mediterranean, than Italian) and All' Angelo as my favorites...other than at home. I guess I would rather sacrifice a bit in the quality of the food than put up with noise, attitude and unpleasant surroundings...not to say that the quality of food at Mozza is something to write home about.

                                2. It isn't Otto, Sakiko, sadly. Some of us are still waiting for a Batali restaurant in LA.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: epop

                                    If Mozza is any example of what Batali does, he should stay in New York!

                                    1. re: josephnl

                                      josephnl, do you have any better suggestions for Italian in LA? Because I've been pretty disappointed thus far.

                                    2. re: epop

                                      The Osteria compares very favorably with Batal's places in NYC. Maybe a small step below, but still very good.

                                      1. re: epop

                                        Sorry double post.

                                      2. I found the food to be ok, nothing more and the wine very disappointing considering the price. The room is not very comfortable, which I wouldn't mind if I liked the food more.

                                        1. I made reservations one month in advance for dinner on June 10th. My husband and I were on a roadtrip vacation from Vancouver, BC.

                                          We were staying at The Beverly Hilton and arrived at Pizzeria Mozza by taxi at approx. 15 min. before our 8:30 p.m. reservation. The very nice girl at the desk had us to to our table right away. I'll admit I was at first really put off by the LOUD '70's rock music but our waitress was a really nice girl and recommended a very good bottle of red (my description of what I wanted was "something that doesn't taste like dirt or remove every last bit of moisture from my mouth"). We had the "Rocca Rubia Riserva 2004 Carignano del Sulcis" ... long name, very, very nice wine for $47.

                                          We were seated against the wall at a table for two but were butted up very close to the table for 6 beside us. In the end, as we got used to the noise and started to enjoy our wine it was all good. We had the squash blossoms, the little fried risotto balls in red sauce, one pizza with some sort of spicy meat on it, and two desserts ... the butterscotch pudding and a combo espresso/vanilla gelato.

                                          All in all we really enjoyed the experience and the food.

                                          Can't say the same for a night that we went to Chaya Brasserie ... my "tangerine martini" or margarita or whatever it was tasted like dishwater and that's about all it takes to put me off the rest of the menu ... nothing was horrible but nothing was really good either.

                                          1. If you come to Mozza expecting NY or Neapolitan pizza you will be disappointed. Depending on my mood, sometimes I prefer a Mozza pie to NY pizza, and by that I mean your street corner pizza, not Une Pizza Neapolitana or any of the high end pizzerias (which I have not had the opportunity to try).

                                            P.S. that whole water thing is a huge myth.

                                            1. Visited Mozza for a quick meal recently. Had the tuna stuffed peppers and the fennel sausage pizza. The pepper appetizer was pretty flavorless, i've had tuna salad that had more taste than this dish. Just a bunch of oil and peppers, I can get the same or better at the whole foods salad bar. The pizza was good, but also nothing special. I really enjoy slices from Vito's and Mulberry. Mozza may have unusual ingredients, like ipswitch clams and rapini, but the crust and the cheese and the overall quality of the pie are not better. It was actually kinda dry and bland. Granted it's a restaurant with restaurant setting and a larger menu, but in a pure pizza-to-pizza comparison, mozza is just not any better. And i say this without any horse in the whole NY vs West Coast pizza debate. Really don't care at all about it. I think the styles at these places are similar enough for it to be an apples to apples comparison.

                                              I think i might give it another try with a pizza that has sauce on it, for a fuller comparison, but i'm not holding my breath for it.

                                              By the way, replying to the original post, i always thought tons of oil was the hallmark of NY pizza. The slices at Joe's in SM drip with it.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: karamazov

                                                I would take a few slices at Joe's any day over Mozza. Mozza is simply way overhyped and to me seems like a tourist attraction. I've been there three times and it was just a headache. Pizza was ok, wasn't blown away, other food items, ok. All' Angelo around the corner has WAY better service, ambiance, attention to detail, wine, and imho just as good, if not better food.

                                                1. re: SecretHeadquarters

                                                  can't google All' Angelo. Sure you got the name right?

                                                  1. re: Diana

                                                    Here you go:

                                                    http://www.allangelo.com/

                                                    7166 Melrose Ave
                                                    Los Angeles, CA 90046
                                                    Phone: (323) 933-9540

                                                2. re: karamazov

                                                  Hum, unless they put a lot more cheese on the pizza at Joe's than what I had last time, it was nowhere dripping in oil, as it didn't really have enough cheese.

                                                  I like both Joe's and Mozza's. They are different types of pizza so you can't really compare them. I grew up in NYC, so I know what a NYC style pizza taste like, and I went to Italy several times, so I know what the pizza there is supposed to taste like too.

                                                  Mozza's is really just different style - unique. Hyped? Probaby, though not as much as a year ago. Overpriced? Yes. I don't know how the pizza can be bland though. Sometimes I found the crust a bit too charred or too chewy, or too much spices on topping, but bland it never was.

                                                  1. re: notmartha

                                                    the mushroom pizza I had at Mozza was indeed bland in every sense of the word.

                                                3. There's a lot one could weigh in on here. No good Italian food in LA?? However one concrete opinion (just an opinion): Mozza kicks Otto's behind. There is no comparison. Otto's pizzas are made in a frying pan, no? IE, neither Otto nor Mozza is a traditional Neapolitan style pizza. Neither is a NY style pizza either. But the pizza at Mozza is a beautiful bread creation, while Otto's bread/crust is just OK.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: George

                                                    precisely what many of us complain about with Mozza -- it is bread + toppings.
                                                    I will take Otto any day.

                                                    I guess we're lucky both exist, but me less so since Otto is on the other coast from me.

                                                  2. I just came back from NYC and was VERY dissappointed with Otto which I loved a couple of years ago. My lardo was undercooked and cold. Have had great stuff at Mozza though recently

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: refilms

                                                      just back from otto and loved it twice (did not have the lardo), was as good as
                                                      ever. Mozza is what i don't like. Had great pizza this week in Rome.
                                                      But felt like many of the meals i had in italy were less than what they were a few years ago. I feel like the way a lot of the restaurants are operating has changed. Fewer aunts in the back, more low paid workers... And too many swooning tourists that don't notice the difference. It was very disappointing.

                                                    2. I've never found the pizza to oily there. However, I don't eat meat (except fish), so it would make sense for the meat-y pizzas to possibly be oilier.

                                                      Also, one person's "drenched oily mess" is another person's "best ever" and I've always understood pizza from northern italy to be wet and oily, mainly from the goat cheese. Point being, its all a matter of preference and you can't claim who does it "right", just which you prefer.

                                                      As far as the joint itself; I think its nice enough, the food is good and affordable, the wine list is interesting and accesible and the service has always been decent. Sure, it's loud and packed and a pain to get into, but everyone should know that going in by know. If it wasn't, I'd probably eat there 3 times a week...which is exactly why its so crowded.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: suicidemartini

                                                        The wine list is one of my biggest problems with the place. They were bragging that they managed to assemble a collection of wines for under $50 a bottle. That is hardly an impressive feat considering that most of their offerings are obscure and not all that great. I can find interesting, well made Italian wines with honest terroir, and authentic italian character for well under $30 retail. They have nothing to brag about when it comes to their wine.

                                                        1. re: rednyellow

                                                          certainly, but for most people (i.e. those that would have no idea how to put a good wine list together), I think it provides a chance to try things you won't find most places and at a reasonable rate. I find myself sticking to the mid-range wines on the list for probably the same reasons that you're frusterated, but its great for my and my girl to be able to get dinner and a bottle for under $80

                                                          1. re: rednyellow

                                                            On my last visit I had both a Montepulciano and a nebbiolo, by the carafe or whatever they call it, both of which were excellent, both totally had real character and terroir, I was really happy. Better luck here in general than at the Osteria. I'm surprised at your reaction to the list. Not that I've ever ordered a bottle there, I always go with those ... you know whats ...

                                                            1. re: la tache burger

                                                              They might be called something like "quartino". Cute little jugs.

                                                        2. I've been eating @ Pizzeria Mozza since they opened. Last night was the first time I'd been there in about 6 months.... and I have to tell you; something happened. What was once a warm, vibrant, welcoming space, now feels cold, corporate, and flat. The food was fine; but lacked the gusto it once had (my party had multiple dishes we'd done in the past; all missed the mark this time). What's the deal? It's too bad, really.

                                                          -----
                                                          Pizzeria Mozza
                                                          641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                          8 Replies
                                                          1. re: rednax8

                                                            You know, I'm like you and that I've been going to PM since they opened. I'm not a regular by any means, but I've been about 8-10 times. The last time I went, about a month ago, I had a similar feeling to you. The place felt flat and the food, while still good, lacked a sparkle that usually made me want to go back the next day. The fennel sausage, which I can never get enough of, wasn't as complex and seductive. I felt like a cog in a faceless machine that was put on autopilot. I left there and I still have the feeling that I'm perfectly okay if I never eat there again.

                                                            1. re: Wolfgang

                                                              Yes. A drop in quality. The marrow bones I ordered had zero marrow in them and the sausage was no longer the sausage I had a few months ago. I thought it was me, that I stopped liking sausage.

                                                              1. re: epop

                                                                when I read Rednax8's post I thought maybe they had an off night. I am so bummed to have you all concur that it has gone downhill--especially the part about the sausage. :(

                                                              2. re: Wolfgang

                                                                I do not understand the adoration of Mozza's fennel sausage. Flavor was OK, and what tiny amount they put on their pizza was dry and overcooked

                                                                1. re: Ernie

                                                                  I don't understand the adoration of anything at Mozza. I think this place gets by totally on hype and vibe.

                                                                  1. re: Ernie

                                                                    the last time I went it was only 2/3 full.

                                                                    Their pizza is one of the better ones in town. That has to be admitted.

                                                                    1. re: epop

                                                                      Pizzeria Mozza's crust is one of the better ones in town, but I have found their toppings sound far better on paper than what is delivered

                                                                      Over the years I have come to the conclusion that Batali and Silverton's food is distinctly overrated. However, they are certainly experts at marketing and hype. Pizzeria Mozza is no exception to this talent

                                                                      I do like their lemony chicken liver crostini. Unfortunately that one dish is not enough for me to put up with the crowds, prices, traffic, etc.

                                                                2. re: rednax8

                                                                  I went last month and although what I ordered was as great as ever (the Asparagus, Guanicale and Egg Pizza and the side of Brussel Sprouts one of my favorite meals ever!!) I did notice that the pace was a bit more high strung (And I went in at 3 in the afternoon, it was full but hardly hectic). I didn't see Matt at the ovens and the bar was really battle worn, like paint was worn away... it shocked me since it didn't feel like THAT long ago since they opened... I thought it was kinda neat since it showed how busy the restaurant has always been... but I do agree seeing those things makes it lose a bit of the sparkle...

                                                                  --Dommy!

                                                                3. The pizzas are good, but nothing that's transcendental. That said, I think the appetizers are sublime, especially the caprese salad and the bone marrow.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: upstarter

                                                                    see above on the bone marrow. Or shall I say bone?

                                                                  2. Pizzeria Mozza is a current day phenomenon. Absolute greatness! Start with a wonderfully flavorful antipasti followed by the chicken liver crostinis with guanciale. For the main, be sure to include the fennel sausage pizza with panna, red onions and scallions. The guanciale pizza is extraordinary albeit a bit salty for my tastes. Next time, I’m goin’ for the goat cheese, leeks roasted garlic and bacon pizza as well as the squash blossom, tomatoes and burrata. Super service and wine pairings from a fairly extensive list of Italian vinos. The Costa D’Amalfi Furore is spectacular.

                                                                    Although it lacks the atmosphere and depth of PM’s offerings (pizzas and otherwise), I’ve found Bollini’s Pizzeria Neapolitana in Monterey Park to approximate PM’s benchmark. Authentic Neapolitana (thin, crispy crust) pizzas. Fired, as they should be, in an authentic, wood burning Italian-made pizza/ bread oven at 1200 degrees. The wood gives the pizza a unique smoky, “crispy/chewy crust”. The Fungi E Tartufi, Italian White and the N.Y. White are my favs. The Arugula Salad at $8 is one of the tastiest I’ve had anywhere. Granted, it can’t touch PM’s antipasti.

                                                                    In SoCal, Pizzeria Mozza is the reigning heavyweight pizzeria champion in my book. Osteria Mozza, though not a pizzeria, is comparable in quality and experience overall for traditional alta cucina Italian.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: degustateur

                                                                      I guess that's why there are choices. My experience was very different than yours. Totally mediocre and I'll never return.

                                                                      1. re: rednyellow

                                                                        went to this place on a recent LA trip...Pizza was very very good...some of the best I've had since I can remember. I guess I can't count the times in college at 2am when I was not in a "clear state"...anyhow I digress. The place is solid although I was underwhelmed by the antipasti/starters. The meatballs were good but not that memorable (the bread it comes with was great), the squash blossoms were super dooper fried...if I deepfry anything long enough it will taste good, and the brussell sprouts were a bit too "vinegary"...overall loved the pizza and will likely skip on the apps next time (maybe get a salad instead).

                                                                      2. re: degustateur

                                                                        I'm glad to see someone post something positive. I was thinking of going this weekend for my second trip. I hope I like it as much as the first.