Pizzeria Mozza – Los Angeles


Okay, I just want to know — did anyone else have a tired jaw by the end of their Mozza pizza?

I didn’t notice it to be particularly chewy or tough while eating it in the beginning, but by the end, I really wanted to let my jaw take a nap, get a massage, toughen up, or in some way feel better.

The fact that I was set on getting the famed Butterscotch Budino for dessert made me grateful for it’s no-chew-necessary comfort… but as for the two cookies that came with it… I mulled over whether I could handle the chewing. Of course, I ate one (and cleverly gave the other to Chad), but I actually mulled over eating one little cookie.

Anyway, let me go back to the beginning.

Probably catalyzed by Frank Bruni’s Mozza Mozza Mozza Madness, I felt an even greater desire than usual to try it out last Sunday afternoon. I called to ask if they had room for two for dinner, and they said “No, we don’t have anything.” I started to say “O-..” until they said:” “Not until 9:45.” I said: “Oh? So, you d-… Ok! I’ll take it.”

When we walked in, I was amazed by how small it is. Stylish and sleek with high ceilings, to be sure, but really, it’s just a room with about 11 tables, and two bars lined with seats (one bar faces the pizza oven and pizza-makers, the other faces the wines). We sat at a table, but I’d recommend to anyone planning to go to aim for the pizza bar. I had a good side view of the wood-burning oven, but to watch the oven and the pizza makers up close would be pizzeria nirvana.

I admit that I’ve only skimmed over some of the many reviews/accounts of Mozza and the Nancy Silverton/Mario Batali/Joseph Bastianich partnership… I like to know about recommended dishes b/c I have a habit of ordering the obscurely dreadful if left to my own devices, but I don’t want to know too much before I go. Aside from enjoying flavors, I like surprises. Frankly, when I went to the French Laundry last year, I felt like I was in a movie that I’d already seen because I’d pored over the cookbook, made a few dishes, and read a lot about it. There were still surprises during that wonderful meal, but it really is like movies — if you read too many reviews beforehand, the movie itself feels redundant. The real fun is reading reviews after the experience, to compare notes with others.

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I ordered the fennel sausage, panna, and red onion (front) and Chad ordered the Coach farm goat cheese, leeks, scallions, and bacon (back); but we agreed to split each pizza. All the pizzas on the menu sounded good to me. When things such as guanciale, taleggio, littleneck clams, lardo, burrata, fingerling potatoes, salumi salame, and so much more are strewn about a pizza menu, the choice becomes nerve-racking until it’s irrelevant… It feels like you can’t go wrong.

Fittingly, I really can’t say which pizza I liked better — the flavors of the toppings of each were fantastic. True to the best that they can be, and congenial with each other. As I’ve mentioned before, I love lots of tomato sauce on pizza and I was initially disappointed that neither had any… but I didn’t miss it. It would have muddled things, and both pizzas had a satisfying moist creaminess, thanks to the cream and goat cheese. The chunky, homemade sausages set a new standard. I don’t know if I liked the flavor or the texture better — loose, yet meaty and juicy, with a wonderful fennel bite.

I love the arrangement of toppings, too. Nicely distributed, but felt like it happened by chance. The pieces of topping are big enough to feel rustic and substantial without being difficult to eat… The only trick was to keep them balanced on the slices before they tumbled off.

Then there’s the crust. Bruni wrote that it has some rye flour and malt syrup, and it sits 36 hours before use. I’ll let him describe it, too: “softly chewy in spots, crisply charred in others, ever so faintly sweet, even more faintly sour.” The outermost crust is a wonder — instead of spongy tubes of dough, it’s mostly hollow, with crunchy and chewy walls. It’s fun to bite into. Both pizzas had centers that were soaked in olive oil, though, which made for a little sogginess. But if it’s good olive oil and your jaw is tired, it’s pretty refreshing.

I’m a little torn on the size of the pizza (about 10 inches)– it’s a little too big to comfortably eat in one sitting, but a little too small to think of taking some home. I ate the equivalent of a whole pizza, but at least it felt light in my stomach… not brick-like or painful.

We also had wine with our pizza. They serve many wines by the 250ml carafe, which I like because it feels casual, yet luxurious.

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Butterscotch Budino with Caramel Sauce, Creme Fraiche Whipped Cream, and Pine Nut Rosemary Cookies. This was fine, but nothing more; if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t order it again. I may be a pastry-makin’ person, but off the top of my head, I can think of three butterscotch puddings that I’ve made and liked better. There was a faint graininess to this. I liked the caramel sauce a lot — salty and deep — but with the butterscotch and caramel in the cookies, it just seemed like too much within a narrow spectrum of flavors, and too sweet. I don’t think that the rosemary helped; it felt out of place, even though it provided some contrast in the dish. The LA Times has an article and recipe here.

The cookies, btw, came 5th in the LATimes Great Cookie Challenge of 2006 (recipe included). I like the look of the frond of rosemary, and I also like to think of it as a Silverton touch. The Lemon Fennel Hat cookies that I made for culinary school graduation had fennel fronds in the same style (recipe in this book).

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Caramel Coppetta – Caramel Gelato, Caramel Sauce, Marshmallow Sauce, and Roasted Peanuts. No chocolate in sight, but this says “Snickers” to me. I liked it better than the budino, maybe b/c the gelato was so smooth.

As Chad and I left the restaurant, our discussion went something like this…
Chad: “I want another pizza.”
Me: “Aren’t you full?”
Chad: “Yes. I want another pizza.”
Me: “Isn’t your jaw tired?”
Chad: “Yes. I want another pizza.”

So do I.

7 Responses to “Pizzeria Mozza – Los Angeles”

  1. Gary Says:

    This pizza looks like it’s up to New Haven standard. ;*)

  2. Nina Says:

    I so want to try New Haven pizza… The only time I ate in that town, it was at Au Bon Pain!

  3. fattypr Says:

    so honored to have been part of that single new haven meal at abp 🙂

    so i think now that i’ve been in bmore for more than 1 year, you have to come back so that I can take you to all the great food places i’ve found.

    and when i come to visit you, we will have to go and get me som mozza pizza 🙂

  4. Nina Says:

    Yeah…. bmore… sure…. totally a great city that I’d love to explore more….. but how about if that trip includes a road trip to New Haven… and MAINE… Dude, MAINE!

  5. fattypr Says:

    this isn’t necessarily post worthy, so you do’nt have to post it, but FYI i have a friend getting married in ME on Aug 2 or 3. i was going to fly to boston so it won’t be a road trip, but it will def be maine!

  6. Nina Says:

    Maine is always post worthy.
    Soooo lucky.

  7. Sweet Napa » Blog Archive » Santa Barbara Spot Prawns at Osteria Mozza - Los Angeles Says:

    […] As for the restaurant itself, it’s a bit fancier than Pizzeria Mozza, but nowhere near the operatic pretensions of Del Posto. It’s comfortable and stylish, with a rock ‘n roll soundtrack. We showed up at 7pm last night (Friday) and had a 10 minute wait for two seats at the marble cheese bar, manned by Nancy Silverton. I couldn’t imagine a better seat in the house. In fact, I’m sure that a satisfying meal could be cobbled together by the cheese-focused small plates. I ordered the burrata b/c I’d first had it served to me by Silverton herself at a Mozzarella Monday at Jar a couple years ago and I was feeling sentimental, but there were many cheeses that I was unfamiliar with that I would have loved to try. I would also be tempted by the starters, such as crispy pig’s trotter and testa (head cheese). Frankly, the main courses are a little staid in comparison, but as our’s showed, they do deliver nicely. […]

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