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The Achilles Heel of Pizzeria Mozza

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After recent food-heavy trips to NYC (Di Fara, Co., Motorino, Keste and more) and SF (Delfina, Pizzaiolo, it's a budding pizza town), I am now, more than ever, bewildered by the achilles heel of Pizzeria Mozza. How can you figure out what is possibly the best crust in the country and then completely blow the SAUCE? It's an American tragedy!

Pizza sauce doesn't have to be sweet, but that earthy, muddy sauce Nancy cooked up doesn't mix with the cheese and the dough at all. Most other great pizza places have sauce you wouldn't mind drinking, but with Mozza I find myself scraping if off so I can enjoy the crust. If your pizza sauce tastes completely different from the best places in NYC (I would say Keste, Di Fara and Lucali) and Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, I can assure you, you're doing something very wrong.

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

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  1. What pizza are you talking about and which sauce in particular? The Margherita maybe?

    I ask because lots of pizzas there don't even have sauce in the traditional sense (e.g. Bianca, egg and guanciale, etc.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      I'm speaking specifically of the Margherita, the basic tomato sauce. I love the other ones and I've taken to getting the special with Burrata, oregano and pomodoro sauce. But I'd just love to have a basic margherita I could enjoy.

    2. Oh no she didn't!!!

      I've enjoyed Mozza's pizzas. Particularly for the toppings, so I can't disagree with your point. But my girlfriend is the same way, she analyzes each component of a pizza. I just put it in mouth and take away an overall apreciation. Too much work for my brain. And talking about crust puts me in a different kind of food coma.

      FYI - Add Artichoke to you next NYC trip, the Sicilian slice is by far my favorite in the US (tried Di Fara twice, Co., Motorino and a few others the last couple years). And take off Bianco, we tried the max 4 pizzas for 2 people and were extremely underwhelmed. Ignorance is bliss in Phoenix.

      5 Replies
      1. re: albatruffles

        Funny you mention Artichoke. I had it when it first opened and was not a huge fan (though I didn't have the Sicilian so I will try again). And what you said about Bianco was heresy! I haven't been there since he retired so I don't know if something changed, but that's the best pizza I've ever had and I've had just about all the big guns in NYC, SF and Chicago.

        1. re: albatruffles

          Sorry, not that anyone cant have off nights but I ate ate Bianco this past spring and though Chris was no longer making the pies, his brother still makes the dough and the pizzaioli have been well trained...My only complaint is not staggering the pies better. 3 of the 4 were served closely together and so the Margherita cooled a bit by the time I got to it. Otherwise, as usual, the crusts, toppings were superb as usual....though if it were more than at most a twice a year event i wouldnt wait in that kind of line. As foer Mozza, Its the most flavorful pie ive had in recent memory. Mozza 2 Go is a particularly good option. I usually can park on Melrose or around thecorner...i just order a pie or two and dine on the hood of my car, watchin the world go by.

          1. re: lapizzamaven

            I heard that Chris is back, but Horatio is still manning the oven (his brother does not work at Pizzeria Bianco).

            1. re: ipsedixit

              His brother doesn't make pies, but he's involved in prep. That's at least as of last year.

              http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives...

          2. re: albatruffles

            alba, how can you say this is overrated?

             
          3. The last time I was at PM was two years ago, but I can assure you that the sauce tasted great, and I raved about it to my Italian bf who was eating with me. He said that all tomato sauce in Italy tasted like that. After that, I was converted to Pomi and San Marzano tomatoes for my sauce, instead of American canned tomatoes, to more closely imitate PM's sauce.

            3 Replies
            1. re: jaykayen

              If I hadn't had such great sauces at other places, I would be more inclined to believe your Italian bf. Does everyone in Italy have automatically great taste in food? I'm mostly kidding, I'm sure he knows his stuff. All the big hitters use San Marzano but they all make SM taste better than Mozza does to me. Oh well.

              1. re: sloanedone

                "Does everyone in Italy automatically have great taste in food?"

                It is considered a birthright. ;)

                1. re: jaykayen

                  E vero.

            2. I disagree 100%. The sauces are spectacular.

              1. I don't think they have the best crust in the country. I know what you mean about the sauce, there was something odd about it--on the margherita. I wouldn't say it was a tragedy, or even earthy or muddy--I kind of thought it was water-y. Their crust tastes completely different from other places too, so I don't think difference on its own creates a quality hierarchy. Kudos on the strong opinion.

                5 Replies
                1. re: apple7blue

                  What's your favorite crust? I really think the Mozza crust is fantastic, but as you've heard a thousand times, it IS more like a bread than a pizza crust. Still love it.

                  Also, "tragedy" is a little tongue-in-cheek, but the sauce honestly kills the margherita and all the tomato sauce variation pizzas (salami, meat lovers, etc) for me. If I judge a non-tomato Mozza pizza against the rest I've had in the country, it's top 8 for sure, maybe higher. With tomato... I'd almost rather have Vito's (on a good day).

                  1. re: sloanedone

                    Village Bakery at the Camp (closed) had a very good pizza with a very distinctive crust, Antica Pizzeria makes Italian crust--well they kind of have to since they are part of an official neapolitan pizza association with rules and all, I could keep going but you couldn't even compare the two because they are apples and oranges so to say. They are both excellent. I seriously think Mozza crust is good, but not so good that I would say they are the best. I cannot think of anyone who I would say is the best. At one point, I would have said Domenico's Old Town, but they closed--they were really good and consistent[Edit:] crustwise.

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                    Antica Pizzeria
                    13455 Maxella Ave, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

                    Mozza
                    641 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                    1. re: apple7blue

                      If you like traditional Neapolitan style pizza, and I do, I think Antica makes the best and most consistent crusts....

                      1. re: lapizzamaven

                        I do but I also like Chicago style fat pizza. The crusts are nothing alike, they may both be fruits but they are apples and oranges, I think I worn that metaphor out . . . Antica is great because it's thin crust but its really different from NY Pizza (not that I think there is a NY pizza) . . . (edit: which is useful for edification in conversations) and all totally different from Mozza.

                        1. re: apple7blue

                          Agreed

                2. I have their equivalent of a pizza marinara (the oregano and tomato sauce one), and I don't find it to be muddy - I think it's pretty well balanced with the right amount of acidity.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: will47

                    I could be wrong, but I believe that's the Pomodoro sauce. They only serve that with the special Burrata and Oregano pizza. And that sauce, like you say, is gooooooood.

                  2. I'm going to disagree with you 50%, sloanedone. I agree that good sauce on PMozza has been something that's been downright missing on my trips there. However, the assertion of best crust in the country...? I'm surprised you would put it above any of the NY outposts you have listed there (granted, what makes a good crust can be a very subjective matter).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ramenbound

                      I think crust is a lot more subjective than tomato sauce, but I think it's really tasty. In terms of crust I would just sit and eat without the aid of sauce and cheese, Mozza is definitely near the top, if not the top. It's great bread. It's more like bread like pizza crust in fact. If you're talking what crust I wanna eat in conjunction with cheese and tomato, Mozza is way below all of NYC places I listed.

                      Perhaps the crust is affecting the sauce. Maybe there's too much taste.