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Pizzeria Mozza--Underwhelmed

Couple of quick thoughts about my experience tonight:

1. Timid reception area; otherwise service was good
2. Restaurant designed by Ikea
3. Glass of red wine starts at $14 and goes up
4. Ordered meatball appetizer, came out lukewarm
5. Want bread and olive oil with your meal?...you will be charged $4
6. Ordered the margharita pizza with garlic--$15 for a pie the size of an individual pie from California Pizza Kitchen...was OK, but did not have my toes curling nor my lighting up a cigarette afterward.

Bottom line--I'll pass and let the tourists have the place to themselves.

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  1. Holy shishkabob. So, if you don't mind my asking, what was the total bill? For how many people?

    Sounds grossly overpriced.

    2 Replies
    1. re: DoctorChow

      2 slices each, splitting the 3 meatball appetizer, and 1 glass of red wine each with tax and tip came to $ 37 per person....will pass....came hungry and left hungry....fortunately, Puesto was having their soft opening tonight with free cocktails and food--will definitely be back at this place--love the ambiance and vibe as well as the food at this place so the evening was not a total loss.

      1. re: El Chevere

        Had lunch today at Paulys Pizza Joint on Miramar Rd. Had two large slices for $5 and thoroughly enjoyed it. If I wanted could have walked next door to Vintage Wines or SD Wine Co and picked a nice bottle for $13 which comes to about $5 for a "250 ml glass".

    2. How does it compare to the other locations of Mozza ?

      62 Replies
      1. re: honkman

        Have not been to others.......Mario Batali putting his name to this place is the equivalent of Wolfgang Puck putting his name to one of those franchised Wolfgang Puck Express places.....I've been to mediocre places in Brooklyn that put this place to shame--just underwhelmed as was my Sicilian Italian friend who joined me for dinner.

        1. re: El Chevere

          We like Pizzeria Mozza in LA a lot as it has a quite unique pizza style - and yes the appetizers are quite expensive but $14-17 for the pizza which feeds one is reasonable for the quality

          1. re: honkman

            What do you think is so unique about Mozza pizzas that would justify their price?

            And $14+ for a glass of wine?

            And $4 for the bread and olive oil that most places give you w/o charge?

            Do you remember the video for the song "White Wedding"?

            1. re: DoctorChow

              the red wines start at $14/glass and go up from there.

              1. re: DoctorChow

                The price for pizza at places like Pizzeria Bruno or Caffe Calabria is about $12-17, so that I don't think the price at Mozza is unreasonable. Also we have eaten perhaps 20-30 times at the LA location and think it is one of the best pizzas we had in California also because they use top quality ingredients including a lot charcuterie for the pizzas made in-house. Other top pizza places like Delfina or Ortica with similar excellent pizzas all have similsr prices - you pay for good quality. The style of the pizza has evolved over the years and it is close to NeapoliteN style but still different. (if you like NY style (which I don't care for) this might be not your place)
                Regarding the wine prices - at least at the LA location they don't sell by the glass but by 250 ml (which is a bit more than a regular glass) but wine/alcohol is in every upscale restaurant a key driver to earn money and is often overpriced

                1. re: honkman

                  Honkman, could you please remind us how it's known that the wine volume is 250 ml? Does it say so on the menu?

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Thanks. So if their 250 ml servings are $14 - $24, the equivalent prices in terms of 175 ml servings would be $10 - $17. Still a little pricey, but not quite as shocking.

                      1. re: DoctorChow

                        I just don't understand this. Just don't.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Well, here's the esoteric high-level math I used: (175/250)*14=10, and (175/250)*24=17.

                          Whew. My brain is now fried and my calculator is smoking.

                          1. re: DoctorChow

                            For once in my life, the math is easy.

                            It's the interpretation of the result that baffles me.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Oh. OK. Sorry.

                              Well, I guess I think that wine prices in a pizzeria that start at $10 (for a standard glass of wine) are a little on the pricey side. I'd expect them to start around $8, max. Just my opinion.

                              A 250 ml serving is pretty generous, in fact maybe even more generous than it needs to be, especially at lunchtime. Not sure I want a third botte of wine with an individual-sized pizza at lunch. I'd rather have a smaller glass. Peference, ipse, just preference.

                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                Well, I guess I think that wine prices in a pizzeria that start at $10 (for a standard glass of wine) is a little on the pricey side. I'd expect them to start around $8. Just my opinion.
                                __________

                                Again, based on what?

                                This, I must say, is like a thread created by Dali. We've got people comparing pizza from the likes of Mozza, Bruno, et al. to CPK, Luigi, Pizza Port, etc.

                                Then we have people complaining that a $15 pie is expensive, and that a glass of wine at a restaurant for anywhere between $12-17, depending on what you consider a "glass", is exorbitant. There are places that will charge more than that for bottled water. Goodness.

                                I've always sort of stuck up for the SD dining scene, and its denizens, but even I'm losing my faith after this.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Don't lose faith, ipse.

                                  I was indeed shocked at first, but retracted most of my objection to the wine prices when it was clear that we were talking 250 ml vs 175.

                                  Now, I just looked at the drinks menu at Basic, the first place I thought of, and they offer a glass of Merlot for $7. Bet I can find others like that, poking around.

                                  1. re: DoctorChow

                                    Now, I just looked at the drinks menu at Basic, the first place I thought of, and they offer a glass of Merlot for $7. Bet I can find others like that, poking around.
                                    ___________________________

                                    See: http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/34

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Hmmmm...not sure what I'm supposed to look at here.

                                      Anyway, Cheers! And Happy Thanksgiving! :-)

                  1. re: honkman

                    yes, the price is for a quartino which is a glass and a half but they will pour a single glass if you like - at least this is at the LA location.

                    1. re: tastycakes

                      Ha! Now that's news we can use.

                      I've yet to go to Mozza, but I don't care to drink 1/3 bottle of wine with a pizza, particularly since I'm likely to be there around 2 in the afternoon. So it's nice to know they'll pour a regular-sized glass of vino fino. (Hopefully, anyway, at the SD location.)

              2. re: El Chevere

                The nails are in the coffin. As far as I'm concerned.

                1. re: DoctorChow

                  If they opened this place in NY, the chef and GM would be pulling forks out of their eyeballs right about now....again, I'm using NY as the standard but for better tasting pizza and an extra $10 or $20 bill in my pocket I'll take a good pie fresh out of the oven from Luigi's instead any day of the week....I've shared my thoughts and will be curious to see what others think. ....little things bothered me--from the cheap Ikea design to cheap wood floors (instead of tile) that already had scratches 2 days after the place has been open (though I did like the area immediately in front of the wood burning oven and the copper) to charging for bread and olive oil....just didn't dig the place and was underwhelmed with the few dishes I had....sorry, wish I could light up a cigarette from pure ecstasy after eating one of their pies since I live within a 5 minute walk but can honestly say that will never happen.

                2. re: El Chevere

                  This is an unfair comparison. This is nothing like a WP Express franchise. While Batali and his partner are 2 of the owners, it began in L.A. with the hands-on involvement of Nancy Silverton. It became quite popular and as a result they have rolled out a whopping 2 (now 3) additional Pizzeria Mozza's in 6 years. Not a lightning pace.

                  Your disappointment a week into their operation is pretty harsh and the comparisons to Luigi's, etc. are emblematic of why SD still struggles with its dining reputation (make it bigger, cheaper). This place uses quality ingredients and the crust is made by one of the most famous bakers in So. Cal.

                  I agree with another poster who pointed out the wine portions are 250 ml (1/3 of a bottle). Most restaurants get 5 glasses out of a bottle. Also , the pizza prices are dang close to Blue Ribbon Pizza which gets regular props on this board.

                  I, for one, am happy to have Batali, Bastianich (sp?) and Silverton in town. Having eaten at several restaurants owned by them and enjoyed every experience, I am expecting this will be run the same way -- a quality place that I might have to pay a couple extra bucks for. All in all, that would be a welcome addition to the dining scene here.

                  Rather than eat my pie and jump on the board to crap on something that is finally here (that many people have driven to L.A. for), perhaps we should all give them a little time to settle in. I think restaurant reviewers usually wait a few weeks and then give a new place one or two (or three?) tries before expressing an opinion that might dissuade others from trying the place.

                  Perhaps I'll see some of you there in January.

                    1. re: eatemup

                      The margherita pizza was flavorless (regardless of price--cheap, expensive, or free), and the meatball appetizer came out lukewarm,--the fact I am in NY now having truly outstanding pizza from no-name establishments reinforces my opinion. If you are not ready to open up your restaurant, wait. Will the flavor improve 2 or 5 months from now at Mozza?...who knows....I call it the way I see it, sorry if it offends defenders of this particular restaurant, and doubt my 'review' influences many, if any, on this board when it comes to their determining whether to give Mozza a shot. I'm certainly not going to cease nor apologize for expressing my sentiments following a disappointing meal.

                      Anyhoo, this is my last comment on this topic...I wish those who dine at this establishment nothing but the best.

                      1. re: eatemup

                        Thank you for breathing reason into this insane post. I especially agree with:

                        "Your disappointment a week into their operation is pretty harsh and the comparisons to Luigi's, etc. are emblematic of why SD still struggles with its dining reputation (make it bigger, cheaper). This place uses quality ingredients and the crust is made by one of the most famous bakers in So. Cal."

                        Myself and another local food writer checked the place out for the first time last night- we walked in at 5 p.m. to an empty restaurant (which did have an awkward, hotel restaurant kind of vibe) and sat right down. I was shocked at this, and worried that it wouldn't live up to the Mozza hype, but by the time our starters came the place began filling up. By the time we left, swooning, it was packed (on a Wed.).

                        The chicken liver bruschetta was out of this world. Chicken livers sauteed in brandy and finely chopped with the addition of anchovy, capers, garlic and parsley, topped with guanciale. It was rustic and elegant at once. Can't stop thinking about it.

                        We also had a lentil dish- the beans, obviously richened by veal or beef stock, were perfectly cooked and the epitome of Batali's passion for peasant food. We could have done without the fried goat cheese patty that topped it, but I can see why it'd be a popular add with diners- gave it a little more pizzaz than a bowl of beans, but unnecessary.

                        Then came the pizzas. The dough/crust might be the best I've ever had, in flavor, crusty-chew, and how it held up from first bite to last despite toppings like egg and seemingly butter-poached potato slices. The anchovy pie (of course cheese-less, again true to Mario's aversion for ever mixing seafood and cheese) had what's best described as a marinara jam- a sweet layer of tomato sauce that had been reduced to fruity deliciousness. The briny anchovies (like boquerones) were off the charts good. This was the most zesty and flavor packed pie I can remember ever eating, and it had all of three stellar components. Yet another Batali-ism: cook simply using just a few stellar ingredients.

                        We couldn't help ourselves and went for the butterscotch budino for dessert- which was a chilled, not too sweet pudding, on top of a flattened sugar-cone-esque waffle (crisp and light), topped with hot, melted marshmallow and salted Spanish peanuts. It was otherworldly!

                        I'm a cheap bi*ch, and all this plus a digestif came to $80 with tip. Not an every night kind of affair, but once monthly most def!

                        My two criticisms have to do with the layout/packed-like-sardines seating and sterile decor of the place. The use of olive oil as a condiment could have been reduced by 25%. Everything (but the lentils) were slightly oily, but the product's quality made up for it. Tasted great, still.

                        I will need to eat there a couple more times before making any grand claims, but Mozza, at first bite, blew our minds... it was a great value and the staff was attentive without being intrusive, and knowledgable about all preparations and ingredients. This is a PRO's restaurant, and it shows.

                        I have a hard time believing that any pizza there could be described as flavorless- a day in, a week in, whatever. I am of the (minority) opinion that restaurants should open ready for service- no excuses, no "time to settle" or to still be "figuring things out." If that's the case, it should be called a "soft opening" and prices shouldn't be in full. I have doubts that this place opened with issues as significant as flavorless food. Can't remark about the wine prices, but the original poster's bill amount doesn't seem right given what was consumed. I think he/she was drinking Hateraid, not vino.

                        1. re: Granite

                          I am glad you enjoyed your meal....please share with me other must places you enjoy as we obviously have 180 degree opinions. Most people whom I have spoken with agree with my assessment but I thank you for expressing your opinion based on an actual visit--now up to 3 people on this board.....btw, for the same $80 I had dinner this past week at Michaels on Naples in Long Beach which blows away Pizzeria Mozza, both, in terms of quality and quantity--including a speck pizza for an appetizer that was out of this world. Not even close, but don't let me rain on your expertise or parade.

                          1. re: El Chevere

                            Haha. I don't claim to be an expert, just eat a lot of food and know when something's overhyped-BS or well-prepared and worth it. In terms of restaurants I like, I eat cheap most of the time... Yakyudori beef bowls, carne asada anything from El Paisa, Mama's Bakery, Ramen Yamadaya... I eat a lot of pizza from Luigi's and think the Al Capone pasta from Lefty's is damn good... Soda & Swine (the best fries w/ malt vinegar aioli/great prices), Super Cocina... Nine-Ten's burger is the best tasting in town and 1/2 off during happy hour. Just off the top of my head. Happy eating to you!

                          2. re: Granite

                            Even though Batali is co-partner he was relatively little involved in the actual recipe/dish development at the original Pizzeria Mozza (and the "Italian philosophy" is not unique to just him as a restaurateur). Most of the dishes were developed by Molina and Silverton. (And if you liked Pizzeria Mozza you should go to Osteria Mozza soon as it is another (or two) steps up in quality)

                            1. re: honkman

                              I'm actually quite ambivalent about Osteria Mozza. The last time we were there, someone in the kitchen had a very heavy hand with the salt, and we haven't been back since. I am still very interested in trying Chi Spacca, though...

                              And now, back to the SD board...

                              1. re: shouzen

                                Chi Spacca is quite good. Them Italians know how to eat beef (and pig)!

                                Stock up on Lipitor before you go.

                              2. re: honkman

                                Nooooo! :)

                                He's coming to eat soon, according to our server, and I'm buying a pair of orange Crocs for him to sign. He WILL sign them!

                                Would love to try Osteria Mozza someday. Yes, I know re: Italians, was more reminiscing Molto Mario t.v. show days, before Food Network took a dump.

                                1. re: Granite

                                  I think if someone walked up to Mario wearing those Orange Crocs, he'd sign them. As for FN dumping, those were the days, with MM, when cooking technique was still alive and kicking, now sadly missed at least by me.

                              3. re: Granite

                                Folks, we've removed a number of posts from this part of the thread that were more about how people talk about food than they were about food.

                                There were a few with some food info in them, so if anyone wants copies back so they can edit and repost, please drop us a line at moderators@chowhound.com

                                Thanks!

                              4. re: eatemup

                                Just back from lunch there. Had a fine meat lovers pizza with delicious fennel sausage and bacon. (I want to know how to get that bacon!) We shared the pie and the chopped salad which was almost too much for the two of us. With tasty arnold palmers the bill was $35. I don't think that is an unreasonable bill. However, some of the other appetizers are quite pricey and can run your bill up quickly.

                              5. re: El Chevere

                                Same here, El Chevere. and @honkman:

                                We went to LA's Mozza for the first time on Dec 13, Friday the 13th. We were not NEARLY as pleased with Mozza as our fellow Chowhounds, who overpraise this place for the most part. For three of us, we ordered the carrot side, carmelized brussel sprouts (delicious), nancys chopped salad, the mixed carrot side, brussel sprouts and two pizzas, the margherita pizza and the funghi with fontina.
                                The sides were good, especially the carrot laced with a SMALL, but accessible amount of cumin. It was the best of all. The pizzas were a total disappointment. The margherita pizza came with NO mozzarella, NOT A DROP. We would have returned it to the kitchen, but we thought that was how it was offered. For me that was a BIG fail b/c in my opinion and imagination, the margherita comes laden with the best mozzarella available, better possibly than I can get on my own. I was shocked thinking that it came that way. But we got home and checked the online menu which boasted mozzarella on the Margherita. The funghi pizza was fun, but not special. The chopped salad was good, but strange tasting and dull compared to the carrot mixture. I really wanted to order the Wild caught King salmon, which was identified on the online menu as a Friday night dinner Special, but it was not available at 6PM on Friday night.
                                Big fails all around. Our bill with a bottle of wine was over $177 about sixty dollars per person before the tip.
                                Waaaay too much for that meal and no salmon!

                                The table next to us ordered "the Meat Eaters pizza! ~another house special. Even though they inquired 4 or 5 times, it never came. The house specials all got short shrift! They finally left without getting it, but with anxious apologies from the wait person.

                                I can confidently say that my home pizza is a damn site better. It took me 6 years, much research and much effort, plus cranking up my oven for an hour at convection bake to get my pizza stone to 588+ degrees; it gives me a better pizza than Mozza's. Plus the owners allegedly are crooks stealing from their help.
                                I obsessed on my home pizza b/c the local pizzas did not satisfy and were not consistent, but I really did expect more from Mozza.

                                Some chowhounds suggested that we should have confronted the problem at the restaurant instead of complaining afterward, but we didn't go there to wrangle about their many discrepancies. We had already been in annoying discussion regarding the Friday night special that wasn't, and the next table was in a prolonged hassle for THEIR 'Special' pizza. Its a pizza place for crissakes, and they couldn't get anything right. THEY are the incompetents, so do not blame us for not throwing a fit!

                                The Margherita would not have been greatly improved with mozzarella as it was quite dry and totally unappealing. We simply left it and THEM! How much time and energy should the customer put in to get their food as indicated? We went out to dinner to be served their menu, not parse out each different selection.

                                BIG FAIL

                                1. re: VenusCafe

                                  I've made my fourth and last visit to Mozza. Abysmal service and mediocre food are the main issues. We've had multiple waiters each time--4 or 5 different people-- which results in a stage-worthy farce of confusing and repetitive conversations. We spend more time talking to the staff trying to straighten things out than we doing talking to the people we went to dinner with.
                                  On the last visit, while we waited interminably for our order when there were only three other tables seated, we watched the two hostesses, rude both when we made reservations and entered the restaurant, as they stood and chatted for 20 minutes straight. One spent a good while running her fingers through her hair, which was nauseating, and it got more so when she finally went to the bar and started moving glasses around. They were barely civil to people who came in after us, and made audible comments about a customer who left which were unkind and unprofessional.
                                  We've had food brought that we didn't order and didn't get things that we did. Cauliflower last time was nearly raw, a completely different dish than we had the first time. The sausage on one of our pizzas was cold. I could go on and on.
                                  There seems to be no one in charge.
                                  I've eaten in the Newport Beach location and found everything very close to perfect.
                                  My four visits to this location spread over four months, at different times and days of the week, have been very disappointing.

                                  1. re: nessy

                                    Just asking,

                                    How does such a high-profile, big-name restaurant mess it up so badly that sophisticated, experienced Chowhounds get so upset that they report their disappointments repeatedly and there is no response?

                                    Is it arrogance or indifference?

                                    1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                      The principles don't live here, have no connection to San Diego other than the location appeared to be a good investment.

                                      It's a corporate store that the corporation forgot. I actually had a reservation for tonight that I cancelled after the latest round of bad service/mediocre food reports

                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                        So now the big strategic question, how long before the funeral?

                                        1. re: cstr

                                          no funeral, it is right next to a Cheescake Factory and flooded with tourists, which sounds perfect for the way it seems to be run down here.

                                          1. re: MrKrispy

                                            Not sure tourists/conventioners can be the sole support of a business long term. Eventually, this place may go the way of The Spaghetti Factory. Time will tell.

                                            1. re: cstr

                                              A brief look on OpenTable is often a reasonable good indicator how business is going (especially on Fri or Sat 6-8pm) - In the moment you don't have any problems to find a table even this evening. Based on experiences with similar Batali restaurants in LV I think they will react to it once they see on a continuously empty tables.

                                              1. re: cstr

                                                Actually, a steady stream of unsuspecting tourists can easily support a restaurant, regardless of its quality (or lack thereof). Look how long KC BBQ has been around. I doubt many locals go there. Or, say, Lou & Mickey's. These are places that don't bother to be good simply because they don't have to be.

                                                1. re: Steve Green

                                                  Oh I don't know, in the case of KC BBQ the only thing that kept them going so long was the link to Top Gun. If not for that, they would have been toast long before the fire, not pun intended. As for Mozza, the corp will not tolerate a meh place for long.

                                            2. re: cstr

                                              They'll want (need) to recoup their investment before they bail, if at all.

                                              Jerry Maguire said it best...FOLLOW THE MONEY...and when the money trail is not what it should be it will get some attention. The B&B empire is not so huge that an under performing store would go unnoticed at some point.

                                              I think Honkman's observation about too many empty table and (potential? probabaly?) revenue shortfalls will eventually raise some red flags and they'll either fix it...or not. But I don't think they'll walk away from either the location or the investment in the near future.

                                              I wouldn't sound the death knell just yet. How are the reviews over on the "Y" site? As bad as they are here?

                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                "How are the reviews over on the "Y" site? As bad as they are here?" - Ye(l)p, with many complaining about the service (or lack of)

                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                  well, they won their quarter final group in Eater's "SD Best Pizza" poll this week. Further proof (for those that refuse to believe it) showing that the microcosm of SD Chowhound is not representative of real world restaurant success. They had the easiest group in the competition IMO haha. Full disclosure, I voted for Luigi's in that round.

                                                  http://sandiego.eater.com/archives/20...

                                                  1. re: MrKrispy

                                                    I can only assume most of the people voting this as best in that group have either never actually dined there, or are voting based on the LA restaurant.

                                                    1. re: MrKrispy

                                                      I haven't tried pizza at Mozza in SD yet but to be worse than Luigi (tried it a few times and similar to Bronx Pizza extremly overrated) is still hard to imagine

                                                      1. re: MrKrispy

                                                        What makes you think that the Eater is a representative population?

                                                        1. re: RB Hound

                                                          Perhaps not wholly representative, but their readers did pick a worthy "Best Pizza" winner in Buona Forchetta, IMO.

                                                          1. re: DoctorChow

                                                            Yeah, with 446 total votes, it shows you even pizza joint owners are suffering from "Best of" poll exhaustion and can't rally their Facebook fans to get over to Eater and vote. Don't worry, there will be another Best Pizza poll next week in San Diego. Don't worry, it won't mean much, either.

                                                            1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                                              Agree. I'm tired of these "Best of" polls too. But Buona Forchetta is in fact a very good pizza joint.

                                                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                Agree on Buona Forchetta. Unfortunately, "best of" features seem to have evolved from being a polling tool to becoming a mindlessly dominant form of food journalism. It's definitely the "now" of food journalism in San Diego - Eater, Thrillist, Super Diners, Reader, SD Mag, etc. all do their best to feature as many potential advertisers as possible. It's all just a big Barney hug these days (everyone's a winner!!!) and surprises me people still become "outraged" when a new Zagat poll features the 100 best restaurant in the country or something like that.

                                                                1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                                                  Outraged greatly overstates matters. I think the word you want is "bemused". :)

                                                                  I think it is a bit unfair to put Eater in with the rest of that group.

                                                                  1. re: RB Hound

                                                                    I don't think Eater is any better or worse than any of the other sites mentioned - all of them have little meaning other than earning ad money but absolute no food related journalism

                                                                    1. re: honkman

                                                                      That might be a bit harsh. I for one check Eater regularly as one way to help keep informed. SanDiegoVille is another site that I like. I find them useful and interesting.

                                                                      We've been down the anti-"Best of" road on this board before and I agree about that. I've expressed that in previous threads. Didn't think my mention that Eater came up with a darn good pizza restaurant in this latest "Best of" thing would be seen as expressing an opinion otherwise. Anyway, enough on that subject.

                                                                      1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                        Yeah, but Eater never really says anything about the food. They seem focused on the industry - breaking the story on openings and closings, chef/bartender/owner interviews, links to other new outlets and food forums, and the heatmap/best of style features. I like the interview aspect of Eater, but they stay pretty Switzerland on actually expressing an opinion about a place or the food.

                                        2. re: honkman

                                          I, too, am interested in a Mozza-Mozza comparison. Like honkman, we really enjoy Mozza and go there almost every time we're up in LA.

                                          Perhaps it's just not for you, El C, because I've never had a disappointing meal there. I'd say lunch there typically runs ~$70-80 after tax/tip for the 2 of us, which is fair for the quality and quantity.

                                          1. re: shouzen

                                            Don't get me wrong--my fondness for pizza is not limited to NY style pizza. Besides Luigi's, I happen to like Blue Ribbon Artisan, I really like the flatbread pizzas at The Pony Room (you really can taste their high quality ingredients), and I would even prefer a pizza from the Il Fornaio chain compared to the one I had last night at Mozza....in the LA metro area, I also happen to like Michael's on Naples--rated as the #1 pizza in the USA from Zagat (by them--not in my book, but still good)....charging for bread and the overall size/flavor/value were not there for me...as for the cost for a glass of wine, I will gladly pay a premium for a good wine but I don't know that I would classify this particular location as 'upscale' (not with the Ikea furnishing) and I would be more accustomed to paying those prices at a steakhouse and elsewhere rather than a place that predominantly serves pizza.

                                            1. re: El Chevere

                                              Perhaps they need a bit more time to work out the kinks but from your examples it also sounds like that the style of pizza at Mozza might be not your prefered one (Luigi (lousy pizza imo), BRP and Il Fornaio are quite different).

                                            2. re: shouzen

                                              Pizzeria Mozza is one of my favorite places in LA, and we had one of our best dinners ever at the Osteria a few years ago.

                                              The prices seem fair given the quality of ingredients they are using, but people won't pay a premium if they're not getting an outstanding pizza (or other entrée). BTW, Eater was reporting that our location has a bigger menu. Wonder how that will affect the overall quality.

                                              We have reservations on Friday night and I'm still excited to give it a try. I'm not expecting perfection since they are just opening to the public today, but I'm very interested to see how our local pizzeria compares to LA and will report back.

                                          2. This is an odd review.

                                            To review some of the points you raise.

                                            1. Glass of wine at $14. I usually don't order wine by the glass, but that's pretty typical for wine by the glass (maybe I've just been jaundiced by NYC and SF prices but whatever). The only place I can think of off the top of my head where you won't find a mark-up of that nature in SD are probably in places with retail wine shops like Cucina Urbana. (Even a place like Isola starts most of their wbtg at around $10, and then goes up). And really, without knowing what red you ordered, it's impossible to say whether that mark-up was reasonable or not.

                                            2. An extra $4 for bread and EVOO. I'm ok with that. If you didn't want the bread, don't order it. Better this way than to be given it "free" and then not eat it, but have it folded into the price of your item "ordered" items.

                                            3. $15 for a pie the size of an individual pie from California Pizza Kitchen. This is the most quizzical part of the review. I haven't been to CPK in years, but I just checked their online menu for La Jolla and a CPK pie is on average about $12-13. So you're quibbling essentially over the price of your bread and EVOO. But CPK is the wrong point of comparison for Mozza, me thinks. A better gauge might be places like Isola or Project Pie, both of which have median pie prices around $15. So, whether you liked the pizza or not, using the $15 as point of critique for your argument is off-base.

                                            24 Replies
                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              1. Wine starts at $14 glass and went up to $20--fine at a high end restaurant serving good wine--this is a pizzeria and the wine was decent, not great, from an Italian vineyard I was unfamiliar with ...place like this might consider adding a $10 chianti, or less, or add more quality wines by the glass, including from California....sometimes (i.e. work weeknight) one glass--not splitting a bottle--is what I am looking for; thus, why I also like the option of being able to order by the glass....would I come to this place strictly for the wine--glass, bottle, or otherwise?--NO.

                                              2. Sorry--charging for bread and olive oil is a non-starter and does not cut it for me....a high end Italian restaurant in this town, such as Baci, provides you with a complimentary basket of fresh baked garlic bread with your dinner....this establishment, not I, is the one that is penny pinching...what's next--if you ask for some extra parmesan cheese to be sprinkled on top of your pizza will they charge you for that, too?....maybe they should change their name to Spirit Airlines Pizzeria should that turn out to be the case.

                                              3. I'm not a fan of CPK, either, and $15 for a pie nearly half the size I can get at Luigi's, I will pass.

                                              This also can boil down to what I also consider the "Inn-n-Out"ization of dining experiences in SoCal....I consider myself old school and judge the flavor of an item in and by itself. To me I often judge how good a pizza is based on the flavor of a plain, simple (or margharita) style. Same thing with a hamburger or steak--I judge the flavor and the quality by the meat alone...I'm not a fan of HAVING to add 2-4 items and/or sauce to give a pizza or piece of meat flavor and that could be a contributing factor to my disappointment with Mozza as well...Without my having garlic added to last night's pizza it would have been flavorless....Mozza has some company in this town with respect to this point--the plain pizza I had at Isola was flavorless and I am not a fan of that place either. On the point of a plain pizza standing on its own merits, almost all my Italian friends agree 100% with me.

                                              Bottom line, $75 to split a small pizza with 2 glasses of wine and lukewarm meatball appetizer and leaving hungry is not a place I will be returning to anytime soon...but, don't let me stop you. Just because someone adds their name to something does not necessarily make it good--I'm not about to rush out and buy a Chrysler 300 because John Varvatos agreed to let Chrysler use his name in exchange for compensation.

                                              P.S...should add Cucina Urbana to the list of places I would much rather go to when I am in the mood for pizza.

                                              1. re: El Chevere

                                                Okay, the $14 for a glass of wine is excessive - in San Diego we typically are paying around $8 for the lowest price wine. $4 for the EVOO and bread is also dumb and cheap. But $15 for a margarita pizza seems legit. Bruno's margarita pizza is $12, $17 if you want mozzarella di bufala.

                                                So, the real question is, how does the pizza compare to Bruno's, Caffe Calabria, or Buona Forchetta?

                                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                                Have to agree, bread & evoo is not free, it's baked in to the entrée cost. Besides why do you want bread when you're getting a pizza? As for the wine, I think that price per glass is a bit high for said establishment. Lastly, the pie cost seems reasonable, assuming they are using quality, san marzano's, etc.

                                                1. re: cstr

                                                  I won't get into chains not charging for bread and EVOO for fear of being flamed (though isn't Mozza becoming one?), but independent 'high end' places such as Salvatores, Michaels on Naples (Long Beach), Delfina (SF), Caffe Mingo (PDX) do not charge and, as stated above, I get a complimentary basket(s) of fresh baked garlic bread at Baci without being charged...that being the case, I've provided my reasons for not returning....would like to hear from others--including those who have eaten at the one in LA, Singapore and/or Newport Beach--after they have been.

                                                  As for inquiring about bread and EVOO with pizza--maybe because the appetizer and small pizza my friend and I shared left us hungry.

                                                  1. re: El Chevere

                                                    I think part of the issue is that you're paying for the celeb name, thus higher prices. Mozza, IMO, is a chain that I will try here in SD. As for Baci and the complimentary bread basket, have you seen the entrée prices there, IMO, outrageous! That bread basket is far from free! Unfortunately, us Americans expect that bread on the table is always free.

                                                    1. re: cstr

                                                      One could argue that the TCF complementary bread basket contributes more to, ahem, the diabetes and obesity problem in America than the actual "ordered" food, but I won't go there ...

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        OK Josh, sorry, you went there!

                                                      2. re: cstr

                                                        I never said I was not willing to pay for quality....Baci is an Aston Martin Vanquish and Mozza is a John Varvatos Chrysler 300 by comparison.

                                                        1. re: El Chevere

                                                          2014 V12 Vanquish in Orange..Splendido in Portofino..

                                                          68 Bronco..stock, KTM orange..old school classic = Baci's
                                                          (My all time fave car + 911s)

                                                          Mozza's=I'll await my car choice after dining there.

                                                          :-)

                                                          1. re: El Chevere

                                                            Baci is more of a Toyota Camry - It drives you from point A to point B, absolutely mainstream, nothing exciting or unusual, it's good to have at least this car but not something you are really looking forward to drive or tell others about

                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                              Baci comes with a chauffeur.

                                                              Old school, yes, most definitely.

                                                              Disagree about the 68 Bronco & Camry comparisons. More like a 68 Camaro, a hot car in its day and a classic now. (I owned one of those.)

                                                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                @DoctorChow

                                                                ...but no one wants to be caught dead or alive in a 68 Camaro now!

                                                                1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                  Years ago, we had a 68 Firebird convertible and loved that car..

                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                    The Firebird was another great classic, from the same era.

                                                                  2. re: MrKrispy

                                                                    @MrK: I have to agree! So much for car-restaurant comparisons...

                                                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                      Can someone point me to the La Ferrari of SD restaurants?

                                                                      Not a Ferrari, the La Ferrari.

                                                      3. re: ipsedixit

                                                        I agree with most of your points.

                                                        1) The starting price of the wine does seem a little high at $14. That might be my one quibble.

                                                        2) No free bread is fine with me. It's a cost to the restaurant so they shouldn't be forced to take a hit on it. I believe this same discussion came up awhile ago in reference to either Sea Rocket or The Linkery too. Anywho, (non-touristy) restaurants in Italy don't provide bread and olive oil before the meal either and they're starting to get forced into doing so now by American tourists. Shame. Depending on what you order bread will often come along side the other dishes but it's still not a free appetizer.

                                                        3) I agree. The comparison of Mozza to CPK is very strange. A quality small chain versus a cheap large chain. 2 different classes or restaurants that really shouldn't be compared.

                                                        1. re: DougOLis

                                                          Once again, in my original comments, the reference of Mozza to CPK was based on the SIZE (and rather smallish at that) of the pizza not the flavor or quality....the size/lack of value, in combination with the flavor --or lack thereof, factored into my overall disappointment in the pizza.

                                                          1. re: El Chevere

                                                            But wouldn't you say that the Mozza pizza is a good size for one person ? And so I don't really understand you complain about the price for the pizza which is pretty much inline with every other upscale pizza place in California

                                                            1. re: honkman

                                                              (1) for a similar price I can buy a better tasting pie, at least to me, from Luigi's that would be a good size for 2 people (hence, better value and better tasting) and (2) for similar price and similar size I can find pizzas from other places that I prefer and find flavorful without requiring ordering additional toppings to go with the standard sauce and cheese. In the case of the Mozza pizza I had last night, I would have found it bland in and by itself had I not ordered the pie with added roasted garlic. Even with the roasted garlic--or any other item for that matter--it is unlikely I will return.

                                                              As stated, a true test--for me--as to the flavor of a pizza is how it tastes plain (similar analogy to meat or hamburger--I enjoy a steak that tastes great based on the flavor of the meat by itself, not something that requires adding additional ingredients or sauces to give it flavor)...call me old school or unevolved, if you will..

                                                              1. re: El Chevere

                                                                I guess it comes down to preferences of pizza styles - for me Luigi's might be larger but with much, much lower quality of ingredients and lousy taste. Mozza is more about the flavor of the dough and ingredients whereas Luigi is just a salt bomb to make up for low quality

                                                                1. re: honkman

                                                                  I love the flavor of Luigi's sauce (sweet tomato sauce) and cheese and don't need to add anything to it....now, the quality can vary there......pies are good fresh out of the oven and, in particular, when Luigi is there...if you are in the market for a slice that has been sitting around for a few hours and needs to be reheated by their often inconsistent hipster staff, that's another matter altogether....now for a pie with added ingredients, I have to repeat I love the flatbread pizzas at The Pony Room (Rancho Valencia resort)--you can tell the salami and sausage is extremely high quality, crust is crispy, and I ask and always top it off with some of the 18 month old parmigiano-reggiano cheese (also very high quality) that they bring out fresh for me and/or from next door at Veladora.

                                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                                    I agree with Honkman, Luigi's and Bronx and that class seem to have much lower quality ingredients compared to the Brunos/Cafe Calabria places. The latter places seem to have pies of similar size and price compared to Mozza. I get a very distinct impression of high quality from the tomatoes used at Brunos/Cafe Calabria compared to the NY style places, and real San marzano tomatoes (for example) are heads above others (in price as well).

                                                                    Don't get me wrong, I enjoy grabbing sliced from the NY style places, but I don't see a quality-of-ingredients in comparison.

                                                        2. I went to check it out on Monday night (opening day). My husband and I arrived a little before 6, with no reservations, and were told that the only available table was on the patio. We opted to take it, even though it was chilly and they don't have heaters out there (yet?). We had the fried squash blossoms, Mozza caprese, pane bianco (the $4 bread referenced above), a Brussels sprouts pizza, the butterscotch budino, and two quartinos of red wine for a total of $93 before tip. I've dined at the Mozzas in LA and Newport Beach before (once each), and I thought the food here was comparable - and good. I can't compare the spaces, since we didn't really see the inside of the location here (we were escorted from the host stand just inside the front door straight back outside to our table and didn't take time to wander inside). I love that caprese (burrata, pesto, and roasted cherry tomatoes) with the warm pane bianco and I would happily go back just for that.

                                                          1. I agree, the $14 starting price for a glass of red wine brings some sticker price shock, but I wonder how much the seemingly higher pricing has more to do with the elevated rent they must be paying for Port owned land than the celebrity owned quotient.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: foodiechick

                                                              Wine prices at P Mozza are the same as in LA and Newport Beach but at both locations you will get 250 ml of wine (which is more than a regular glass of wine). I am curious how much they serve in SD

                                                              1. re: honkman

                                                                $14 for a third of a bottle of wine does not sound that unreasonable to me and the pizza prices are not out of line. However I doubt I will race down there to eat. I really don't like dealing with the traffic and the tourists. Blue Ribbon suits me just fine up here in NC.

                                                                1. re: littlestevie

                                                                  And therein lies the rub....which is too bad. Is the pizza SO good that people travel into downtown to dine there? Is the goal of the Port to attract locals? Or cater specifically to the convention crowd? The main entrance faces the direction of the convention center, so I suspect their target audience is everyone EXCEPT local clientele. The "brand" is Sunny San Diego Pretty Water View, so people can oooh and ahh, but they can also feel right at home with familiar places, CF, Starbucks, etc.....Conventioneers are not necessarily tourists, they possibly HAVE to attend a meeting/function, etc...The Port wants them to feel good, pretty new scenery, with familiar warm blankety food.

                                                                  1. re: Dagney

                                                                    the Puesto restaurant seems like a place I, a local who lives 5 minutes away, might frequent on a fairly regular basis.

                                                                    1. re: Dagney

                                                                      exactly....they've brought a little bit of familiar, suburban homogeneity to downtown.

                                                                2. re: foodiechick

                                                                  One point I forgot to include: this starting price for wine by the glass was for their own private label wines. Shouldn't private label wine be less expensive?...again, I have no problem paying this amount and higher for an established wine brand, not private label....if I am wrong, I will be more than happy to sell anyone on this board some vintage Il Fornaio private label red wine for a bargain price of $100/bottle :)