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Apr 22, 2014 11:09 AM

Pizzeria Mozza on a quiet evening

We have nothing but good things to say about our experience here. We will definitely be back.

Having eaten at the L.A. outpost a couple times, I was excited to hear Chef Silverton and her team were opening a San Diego location. While the San Diego food scene has improved significantly over the last several years, I was concerned whether there would be sufficient business for a place like this. It is not your father’s pizza joint. Upon reading several of the posts since the November opening, I was not surprised. Some positive comments and others – not so much.

This is not Luigi’s and does not aspire to be. This is not Basic or Lefty’s or (God save us) Sammy’s or Filipi’s. I don’t claim to know what “real” Italian cooking is from this region or that, but I believe this place aspires to be different and authentic and true.

That said, we had an outstanding, simple meal last week. We started with the bruschetta with burrata and leeks which was hands down the best bruschetta and the best burrata I ever had (I am partial to leeks). We followed that with Nancy’s chopped salad which was equally outstanding. We then had one of the pizzas that are made with tomatoes from Los Gatos. It had olives, anchovies and fried capers. I had in mind the discussion here about the center of some of the pies flopping down. It did but we were able to manage. We both loved the pizza…cooked perfectly with a little char and the freshness of the ingredients really stood out

Mozza is a little expensive for a pizza dinner but we felt given the quality of what we ate that it was well worth it. After eating here I was surprised by the complaints about the room. We liked it. Lastly, and importantly, the service was great... attentive but not overbearing, good suggestions, food was out in a timely manner. I would hope that they are hitting their stride and have fixed some of the problems some of you had concerns with.

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  1. " I had in mind the discussion here about the center of some of the pies flopping down. It did but we were able to manage" - this is the point which surprises me most in this discussions. I would be concerned with the pizza quality at Mozza if the center wouldn't flop down. Their pizza (at any of their locations or with similar styles in Italy) is not meant to be eaten with hands but knife and fork. I think with the complains about Mozza we are talking about two different issues - missteps with the service or prefering other pizza styles (which says nothing about the quality of the pizza at Mozza itself)

    9 Replies
    1. re: honkman

      A lot of this goes back a few years when people complained at places like Buona Forchetta, when the complaints may have been more about style than substance. From then on, it almost seemed like any complaint about pizza would get a "maybe you didn't like the style" response.

      I will try to return on a night that is not so busy. Not always easily accomplished in the Gaslamp, of course, but I'm wondering if a good part of the apparent variability is due to traffic.

      1. re: honkman

        I'll bet this guy makes a Napoletana pizza that's crisp on the bottom and flopless:

        1. re: DoctorChow

          I'll bet the middle of the pizza won't be flopless

          1. re: DoctorChow

            While what constitutes a true Neapolitan crust is interesting, it's probably better reserved for the General Chowhound board, and not the SD board, esp. when PMSD doesn't even purport to be Neapolitan style -- either officially or otherwise.

            In fact, I think if you search, the issue of what is a Neapolitan pizza and pizza crust -- and how to eat it -- has been well-sussed already on the General Chowhound boards.

            And for what it's worth many posters, and others who I have spoken to that are devoted VPN members, generally concur that traditional Neapolitan crust has a "soggy" middle, but crisp slightly charred outer ring-crust.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I'm sorry ipse, I don't agree. Pizzeria Mozza is a San Diego restaurant and a discussion of the characteristics and style of its namesake product is entirely germane to our board. Let's not get into another discussion about whether a discussion should take place here.

              1. re: DoctorChow

                How about a discussion over whether we should be having a discussion about whether a discussion should take place?

                1. re: DoctorChow

                  Pizzeria Mozza is a San Diego restaurant and a discussion of the characteristics and style of its namesake product is entirely germane to our board.

                  Of course it is. But a discussion of Neapolitan pizza is *not* germane to Mozza.

                  If you want to discuss the merits, or characteristics, of Neapolitan pizza there are better fulcra on which to balance the discussion, like Buona Forchetta for one.

                  But using Pizzeria Mozza to discuss Neapolitan pizza is odd.

                  It's like saying the dumplings at Dumpling Inn are not very good because Sichuanese food use peppercorns.

                  Or to bring it back to pizza, it's like saying Pizzeria Mozza isn't very good since the cheese isn't the bottom layer because Chicago-style deep dish pizza has inverted toppings.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Ipse, all I know is that the pizza I had at Mozza is called "Napoletana" on the menu. Maybe they're just kidding, but that's what they call it.

                    And now, about those dumplings... :)

          2. Glad you had a good experience - service seems to have been a real problem for them - maybe they are finally doing something to fix it!

            1. One pizza on their menu is called Napolitana (tomato, mozzarella, anchovies) but that doesn't mean that their pizza style is an original Neapolitan style (related but yet different)

              7 Replies
              1. re: honkman

                Pizza in Italy is just bread with different stuff on it. Thick or thin, puddles of oil or relatively dry on top, tomatoes or no tomatoes really depends on where you eat it. Having spent hundreds of nights in Naples, and three years on assignment in Rome, I can tell you from experience that a pizza with tomato, mozzarella, and anchovies is a "Napoletana" in Lazio (Rome) and a "Romana" in Campania (Naples). Go figure. In Italy, pizza is given a name for a certain combination of toppings; Margherita, Quatro Stagione, Napoletana, etc. There appears to be a lot of confusion here about a pizza that is "Neopolitan" (in the style of the City of Naples and the Province of Campania that is relatively thin compared to Sicily or Rome) and a "Pizza Napoletana" (a pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella di buffalo, anchovies, oregano, and olive oil). Lazio style pizza is thick, baked on a rectangular pan mid-morning in a conventional oven, and served for lunch by the weight of the slice you order. Campania style pizza is round and baked to order in a wood-fired oven starting in the early evening. Romans like their "pizza ronde" more thin and crispy than the Neopolitans. Just like we Americans argue the regional merits of Chicago Pizza versus New York Pizza and so forth, the Italians are far from unanimous on the "best" pizza style.

                  1. re: sandiegomike

                    ...a pizza that is "Neopolitan" (in the style of the City of Naples and the Province of Campania that is relatively thin compared to Sicily or Rome)

                    Romans like their "pizza ronde" more thin and crispy than the Neopolitans


           which is it? Is a Roman pizza thinner or less thin than a Neopolitan pizza? Or does it depend on the time of day (lunch or dinner)?

                    1. re: DoctorChow

                      The crust of a round, cooked-to-order pizza in Rome is typically thinner and crispier than its counterpart in Naples. Italians do not traditionally eat this type of pizza at lunch but this custom has changed in recent years due to visitor preference as much as anything.

                      1. re: sandiegomike

                        Thanks, sandiegomike. Your two posts here help to clear the air a little. Based on your remarks, here's what I think:

                        The pizza I had at Mozza was indeed a Napoletana as advertised, but it was neither a Roman-style Napoletana (with a thin crispy crust, which is what I was craving), nor was it a Neopolitan Napoletana, with a somewhat thicker crust.

                        The toppings on the Napoletana I got at Mozza were delicious and of very high quality, and the outer rim crust was perfect -- as I said in my original comments about it. Alas, for my preferences, and for the money, it had a very thin but unacceptably soft (all the way to mushy, really) bottom crust.

                        1. re: DoctorChow

                          The outer crust at Mozza is different from a "typical" Neapolitan style pizza whereas the middle or bottom crust is very similar to the "typical" style (and how you get it at the other Mozza shops.(One of the better discription I have read in a book was "soft and runny in the middle, puffy, just slightly crisped around the edges."). Here is also a got article from Serious Eats about the style ( "a Neapolitan pizza will have a soft, tender, nearly soupy center"

                          1. re: honkman

                            A very informative and interesting link. Thanks, Honkman. This has been a useful discussion.

                            It's not the soupiness of the toppings in the center of a pizza that's "offputting" to me; rather, it's the extent to which the soup in the center affects the integrity of the crust below that can be a problem, and was for me at Mozza.

                            Quoting from the author of the link, a couple of things hit my eye:

                            First, describing the way a pizza in Naples is served and eaten:

                            “You will never see a pizza come pre-cut into 'slices', as that would cause the very soupy toppings to seep underneath and turn the whole thing soggy.”

                            I agree that pre-cutting a wet-toppings pizza is a mistake, and made a comment to that effect in an earlier post. Pre-slicing may well have contributed to the excessive sogginess of the Napoletana pizza I had at Mozza. Also, the crust at Mozza was very thin, thinner than what I think I understand to be the case for a Neopolitan pizza -- more like the thickness of a Roman-style pizza -- and so the crust was probably soggier than those found in Naples, where the crust rises more during baking.

                            Second, describing his favorite pizza among those he tasted in Naples:

                            “... it's the perfect level of soupiness to crispness. The juices definitely pool in the center as you eat..., but the edges and underbelly still retain a thin, thin layer of crispness that adds textural contrast to the whole deal. It's a really exquisite pie”

                            If my pie at Mozza had been like that one, I imagine I’d have been a happy camper!

                            By the way, the Mozza pizza crust wasn’t charred anywhere, not on the edges, not on the bottom. Just some light brown speckling.

                1. Pizza styles are very different throughout Italy (and obviously names of the pizza depending on what is the "different stuff on it") but the questions in this thread is about the pizza style at Mozza and how it differs from the one in Napoli.

                  1. Not to interrupt the pizza debate, but @OP, what night of the week did you go to Mozza and how quiet was it?

                    We were discussing going to Mozza this weekend with some friends and after visiting OpenTable just now to check availability, I was pretty surprised to see how wide open reservations were - I could book a 2,4 or 6-top pretty much anytime I wanted tonight or tomorrow night.

                    Any comment (anyone) on how much this place has slowed down?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                      Huh? Me? Thursday a couple weeks back. At 7:00 p.m. It was maybe half full. I had been watching Open Table availability and the last couple months appears to be quite available. We will go back soon. Hope others do too. Really nothing else like it here, and I, for one, hope it sticks around.