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Oct 16, 2013 10:12 PM

Pizzeria Mozza: An Anniversary Lunch

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I'll keep the pre(r)amble to a minimum, since Pizzeria Mozza's bona fides' already well established. My wife and I went for lunch on a Sunday in early September for two main reasons: First, we were celebrating our anniversary. Second, perhaps more importantly, we wanted to see if the famed Butterscotch Budino that I had heard so much about could live up to the hype that surrounded it. We were, ironically, not in the mood for pizza (though the clam pizette called strongly to the New Englander in me), so we ordered a simple selection of Antipasti, Insalata, and Bruschette, starting with...

[Numbers correspond to images uploaded below.]

1. Fried Squash Blossoms with Ricotta, $12: The exterior was crisp and savory while the interior was creamy, tangy, and a touch sweet. These blossoms reminded me of jalapeño poppers, but in the best possible way, and without the capsaicin kick, of course.

2. Bruschette of Chicken Livers, Capers, Parsley, Guanciale, $9: More chopped than pâté, the natural muddiness of liver paired well with the brightness of the capers and parsley, while the crisp guanciale and crusty bread provided textural contrast. Portion-wise, it was quite large for the price: three generous pieces cut in half for easier sharing.

3. Mozza Caprese, $13: The tomatoes were slightly roasted so the skin just started to blister. The mozzarella was elastic yet creamy, grassy and sweet. We made short work of this plate with the help of some Pane Bianco with Olio Nuovo (not pictured), $4, which was quite delicious in and of itself.

(Rapidly getting full on bread, we asked the waitstaff to cancel any items that the kitchen had not started yet. They were able to cancel the Burrata Crostone with Swiss Chard, Spring Onion, and Balsamico, $9, but we had two more dishes to go...)

4. Insalata di Testa, $10: A brief respite from all the bread, this light salad of crisp celery, radish, and carrots was quite refreshing. The coppa di testa was quite delicate, while still providing some savoriness and umami to the dish.

5. Bone Marrow al Forno, $12: The last dish before dessert, the plate was laden with three large halves of bone, yet more bread, some sea salt, parsley, and garlic. With the unctuousness of the marrow and the pungency of the garlic, this was a strong finish to the meal, to say the least.

6. Butterscotch Budino, Sea Salt, Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies, $10: The moment we had been waiting for, the dessert came out with a lit candle and a greeting of "Happy Birthday". (We had offhandedly mentioned that it was our anniversary to our waitress earlier, but apparently something was lost in translation by the time the runner brought out the dessert.) We thought it was a cute touch. But did the dessert deserve its hype?

We dug into it, and it definitely lived up to expectations. My wife has more of a sweet tooth than I do, and she especially loves caramel and butterscotch, so I surrendered most of the dish to her (I had most of the marrow anyway). She did indeed agree that it was one of the best, if not the best, butterscotch puddings she's had. I was pretty impressed myself. It was not too sweet, as I generally find butterscotch, and the sea salt really accentuated the buttery creaminess. I was actually more enamored with the rosemary pine nut cookies, which had a savory note that really appealed to me. I almost asked if I could just get a box of those cookies to go!

We were very happy with our first meal at Pizzeria Mozza, and it was a great way to celebrate our anniversary. Somehow, despite not having breakfast that day, we got full very fast during the meal. Perhaps we underestimated the portions, or maybe we didn't pace ourselves, but at least we made sure to leave room for dessert! We definitely want to come back to try the pizzas and have the budino again, of course.


Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 297-0101

All photographs © 2013 The Offalo

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    1. re: ipsedixit

      Thanks ipse. Nearly two decades together, over a dozen years married. Scary. ;-)

      1. Timely post! I was at the Newport branch on Tuesday for the first time in over a year. My pizza preferences definitely lean Neapolitan these days.

        They had a seasonal forno baked dish of chanterelle mushrooms, fontina, and egg. Egg yolk was of course runny and a beautiful really dark orange that reminded me of the egg yolks you'd see in Rome. Everything was mixed together and put on bruschetta. Delicious.

        The pistachio gelato was as good as ever.

        Oh yes, and Happy Anniversary and Birthday!

        4 Replies
        1. re: Porthos

          Okay are you guys just doing the "birthday" thing on purpose? ;-) It was just an anniversary lunch. No birthday.

          Despite being mostly carnivorous, I love mushrooms so that baked dish sounds awesome, especially with the egg the way you described.

          1. re: PeterCC

            Can't go wrong with Pizzeria Mozza, so if they say Happy Birthday on your budino, then Happy Birthday it is!

            1. re: J.L.

              So you're saying the budino is infallible? I guess I can't disagree with that too much.

        2. Actually, you can get those cookies to go at Mozza2Go next store, as well as the budino or a wonderful panna cotta. Also, of course, the pizzas.

          I so wish I was in their delivery area, but I stop by to pick up from time to time.

          11 Replies
          1. re: omotosando

            Thanks omotosando. That is some very dangerous information. Have a feeling I'll be making a run sometime... :-)

            1. re: PeterCC

              They also have a lovely olive oil-braised tuna, egg, capers & anchovies panini at Mozza2Go. They used to offer the chicken liver at Mozza2Go, but it looks like they took that off the menu. Plus, you can get wine. I usually pick up a bottle of Lambrusco, but they have a rather broad array.

              As I said, I so wish I was in their delivery area. Apparently, you can park for free in the Mozza lot when you are picking up from the takeout. During the day, you can also usually find a meter on Melrose.

              P.S. They have the Caprese salad on the menu at Mozza2Go. I usually pick up a Nancy chopped salad.

              1. re: PeterCC

                I'm pretty sure they also have those cookies at Eataly (in NYC at least).

              2. re: omotosando

                +1 Mozza2Go. You can also get their wonderful focaccia there (a traditional one - not the di recco that's so hot at Chi Spacca right now). Just wished they would bring the porchetta sandwich back...

                Oh, and happy anniversary!

                1. re: chrishei

                  Thanks! My wife just looked at me wide-eyed when I mentioned all the stuff I could get to-go from there...

                  1. re: PeterCC

                    You may live to regret divulging that information. ;>)

                    Happy Anniversary to you and your better half!

                    1. re: PeterCC

                      And here's a heads up to make it even better - every now and then Blackboard Eats posts a 30% off coupon for Mozza2Go.

                      You could buy 30% more stuff!

                    2. re: chrishei

                      I have to add that the wine prices at Mozza2Go appear fair. I have fallen in love with the $15 "Pronto Secco" Lambrusco -- in fact, I would say it is the best bang for your buck wine I have tasted in a very long time. Just looked online -- the Wine House on the Westside is selling it for a dollar more than Mozza2Go (and they don't have all that great take out food).

                      I so wish I was in their delivery area -- they will drop wine at your door with food!

                      1. re: omotosando

                        "they will drop wine at your door with food!"

                        Okay, now you are just taunting folks.


                        Maybe get a pizza and that wine to go?!

                        1. re: happybaker

                          The Pronto Secco Lambrusco is an unbelievable pairing with pizza, although not everyone appreciates Lambrusco.

                          I always assume that what I will like other people will like, but I gave a bottle of Lambrusco to a neighbor (not the Pronto Secco, but another one), and she really didn't like it.

                          I think I adore Lambrusco so much because I like bitter things and a good Lambrusco has a bitter bite. In my mind, Lambrusco is the the most perfect pairing for a Mozza pizza to go, which may be why they have it front and center on the take-out counter.

                    3. re: omotosando

                      I was just going to say that you can buy the cookies to go. I like those little suckers almost as much as the budino. Almost.

                      1. re: Sgee

                        Yes! :-). But if you know any close contenders in town let me know.

                          1. re: New Trial

                            I've had the butterscotch budino at Pizzeria Mozza and liked it. A lot. But my favorite is the butterscotch pot de creme at Gjelina, also served with sea salt and a dollop of whipped cream (or creme fraiche?). Hard to say or recall what I liked better about Gjelina's, and I know it is an imitation of the budino, but in my experience (multiple tastings) it is a slight but clear winner.

                          2. re: PeterCC

                            Scarpetta makes an incredible vanilla caramel budino with sable cookies. Definitely worth a try.