Mozzeria? Anyone been? [San Francisco]
- mariacarmen Mar 16, 2012 10:45 PM
I just heard about this place from a mention on GrubStreet: http://sanfrancisco.grubstreet.com/20... Apparently, Michelin gave them a nod (and a tweet!)....
(btw, congratulations to Atelier Crenn!)
I did a search here, nothing...Yelp has 56 reviews - they've been open since December?? What space did they take over?
They have an imported Italian wood-fired oven, and it's an all-deaf staffed and owned restaurant... they make their own burrata.... and the most expensive pizza is $18 (duck with hoisin, Fridays only).
I can't even keep up with all the restaurants opening up around here!
I found some more info: http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/20...
After writing the Digest about Mozzeria, and noticing a bare cupboard, I plotted a trip there on Wednesday night. Here's what we thought:
Cal-Neapolitan, lots of well-prepared fresh vegetables and herb accents. Great neighborhood comfort food, probably along the lines of Firefly, but with a smaller menu.
- Razor clams with sausage in broth
- Sausage pizza with white garlic sauce
- House-made burrata with roasted peppers and basil oil
- Beet salad with horseradish and goat cheese
Everything landed on the scale of good to great. I especially liked the tangy pizza crust, which was blistered without being burnt, and we fought over the last drippings of fennel-infused clam broth. Pizza was five slices, enough for a couple to share with appetizers or carb-hungry solo diner with no other dishes. We split it between three, and it was definitely enough food with our three appetizers. The garlic sauce that served as the base of the pizza had a warm, roasted flavor that I enjoyed a lot.
The burrata was good, though the skin was a little thick and detracted from the creamy interior. Beet salad was simple and well executed, with a smear of horseradish to notch up the flavor.
Razor clams were small and plump, served with a fat wedge of bread and a sausage patty that we broke up and let sink into the fennel-flavored buttery broth. After the bread was gone, I wanted the pizza to hurry just so that I could beat my friends (temporarily known as broth competitors) to the rest of it, sopping up the rest of the liquid with the frame of the crust.
After reading the KQED article about the couple who own Mozzeria (they are deaf and hired deaf staff), and their website (which doesn't emphasize that aspect), I wondered how, if at all, the couple's deafness, and integration of the deaf community into their business would make this different than a typical experience.
Their web reservation service was down so I called instead and think we communicated with a TTY service. The dining room, one of those long Mission shoebox styles, was much quieter than a typical booming SF restaurant, and pleasantly so. Music played faintly in the background as we had a chance to look at the space: burnt cream walls, and floors a gorgeous dark wood. More than half of the tables were using sign language, among themselves and with the servers, and in time the motion of hands seemed like a type of noise in itself.
Ordering didn't feel completely easy--one friend has a severe allergy, so we made inquires (with paper + pen) and then that note, with our order, disappeared before being placed in the queue. An order for a glass of wine fell through the cracks also, while a duplicate dish was delivered a couple times after we'd eaten the original. It was never clear exactly who our server was.
Other than making inferences based on the activity around you, there's no explanation of what's going on if you happened to wander in off the street. I suspect they don't want to use deafness as a marketing ploy--it's a restaurant for everyone and the quality of the food should trump everything. However, it does--the food is well executed and tastes great; I'm looking forward to eating here again.
I wonder, though, if they're missing out on emphasizing many of the components that make this meal special: the sense that this is what local is, that this is what community is. I guess my thoughts on this aren't entirely clear even to me, except that I think if I entered this restaurant, without any background, I might be confused and need more guidance to be able to communicate gracefully.
Anyhow, long rambling thoughts. The food is good. Eat here.
Thanks for the very thoughtful report. I had been thinking about the deaf issue, and wondering if they were going to point it out. i tend to think, like you, that it would be a good thing to play up community, as an awareness factor, etc. not to exploit it, but to bring it to people's attention. but the food has to be good, first and foremost, and it sounds like they got that right. Thanks again, I definitely want to check it out.
GO! This place is really good. Small quibble is that a few spots of the pizza are a bit thin for me,but the edges are perfect, chewy, tasty....ahhhh
I had a special that was the most creative and healthy and tasty pizza ever, it had candied walnuts (asked if I wanted them on the side), endive, fresh baby greens, burrata, kumquats and light vinagrette WOW
I just wish I had room to try some of their other dishes. Next time. Oh and the prices were really reasonable and no extra "health" service charge ;)
well..... i'm sorry to say i didn't love it. we ordered the veal/pork meatball with mozzarella on foccacia, the roasted peppers with almond & goat cheese on crostini, the hoisin duck pizza, and the roasted asparagus, mushroom,/ truffle oil, goat cheese pizza.
my favorite item by far was the meatball. wonderful texture, great flavors - my only complaint was there was just one - and it was small. usually if you see a "meatball" on a menu as a starter, it's a larger one. three of us were sharing. that's not the restaurant's fault, i just wish we'd known it was so small. nevertheless, it was delicious. the peppers were forgettable.
the pizzas - the problem was the dough/crust. thin but not at all crispy, chewy, yet not really doughy.... they didn't seem to have come out of that beautiful imported Italian wood-fired oven. as you can see from the pics, there is some charring, but they were actually a bit mushy. they weren't even necessarily overloaded, but the dough just didn't hold up to the toppings. the flavors on the toppings were good, although the hoisin was a bit much - a little less would have gone a long way. the truffle oil was perfect with the goat cheese.
the people were as nice as they could be - the pizzaiolo actually opened up the oven for me to get a pic of it (unfortunately, that one came out too blurry.) great service, great concept, i'm happy they're there, but i wouldn't go there just for the pizza. i wouldn't mind trying other items on their menu tho.
i'm sorry i didn't love this place more, pane! i really wanted to...
Tacking on an update here, I had a chance to try it last month. We had a res for 10:15pm on a Saturday night and I missed the text asking for reconfirmation. Then we ran late due to parking problems and tried to call to notify but the answering service could not get through. Arriving breathless at Mozzeria’s door, one staff member shot a look that could kill, but the other two prevailed with a warm welcome and gestured for us to take a seat. There was no one else in the place at that hour.
We over-ordered to compensate for seating us. Housemade sodas, and a couple apps to start. Romaine salad turned out to be whole too-mature leaves layered with cucumber, blossoms, and apple and no sign of dressing. Housemade burrata was fine, on the firm side, dressed with basil oil and balsamic vinegar and served with grape tomatoes and gnocco frito.
Of course we had to order the Peking duck pizza that’s been talked about so much. Serve with a scallion brush, cucumbers and extra hoisin sauce on the side, the pizza had quite a bit of shredded duck heaped on top as well as hoisin. Without adding more, this pizza was already too sticky sweet. And the crust was over-fired. Perhaps the oven had cooled down too much at the end of the night and the pie dried out from a longer cooking time.
Much better was the Margherita pizza, and a reason to return here. In this case, the extra brown but not burnt crust had some crispness on the bottom as well as chew, which were unexpected in a Neapolitan pie. Very pure and clean flavors, and the fresh mozzarella was a nice touch.
For dessert, bombolini. Served warm in a puddle of chocolate sauce, they’re filled with lemon curd and dusted with cinnamon sugar.
Along with our payment, we left a note thanking the staff for accommodating us so graciously.