Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Pizzeria Mozza - Los Angeles

Pizzeria Mozza - LA
We all know Mario Batali doesn't like food bloggers, but I was still surprised when a hostess leaned over our table at Pizzeria Mozza in LA this past Saturday (as I photographed the place setting in front of me) and said, "I'm sorry, we don't allow photos of the interior of the restaurant or the food." When I expressed disbelief, she continued: "To prevent unauthorized blogging."
Pizzeria Mozza - LA
I didn't fuss. I didn't want to embarrass my dining companions, and I didn't really care, since I'd already taken several photos on a previous visit - but I did think it was pretty ballsy of them to tell me I couldn't photograph food I was about to pay for the privilege of eating.
Eating at the Pizza Bar - Pizzeria Mozza in LA
You may have heard - Pizzeria Mozza is popular. It was mobbed from the moment it opened, and three years later it's still chaotically crowded. On my first visit in August of '08, we had a reservation for 1:30 pm, which they gave away when we were fifteen minutes late, even though we had called from the road. It worked out fine - maybe even for the best - since we snagged seats at the pizza bar. Two years later, we were lucky to get a 1:45 reservation, that I made by calling the same day cancellation/reservation line (the recording gives it to you when you call their main number.) When I tried earlier in the week, no dice. Even mid-afternoon, a small crowd was gathered in the doorway between the hostess stand and the bar, jockeying for position. It reminded me of the Cheesecake Factory, minus the giant plastic buzzers.
Pizzeria Mozza and playdate at Jora's
On that first visit with my friend Susan, we over-ordered like crazy and had a fabulous meal - starting with a cauliflower gratin, an avocado, tomato and bacon salad with bread crumbs, and two pizzas - one with clams, chilis and oregano, and the other topped with wads of fresh house-made sausage. Since we were at the pizza bar, we were able to choose based on what we saw (and smelled) coming out of the oven and what other people around us were eating - a big plus especially on a first visit. If you have a choice (and a small party) I highly recommend sitting there if you can swing it.
IMG_0609
This time around, the food didn't seem to have quite the same zing. It was still enjoyable - especially the meatballs, which I managed to take a fuzzy cell phone shot of despite the hostess hovering right behind me. The crostini with white bean puree and saba also turned out to be a surprise highlight. The sausage pizza was curiously under-seasoned though. I remember that they sprinkled some kind of curry-like magic dust over it last time. That was missing. We also had the clam pizza again, now a "pizzette" for the same price due to the high cost of clams. It was good, but I missed the red pepper flakes they had liberally sprinkled over it before. The crust of their pizzas is still amazing though, chewy and flavorful with a beautiful sheen and crackling puffy edges. We also had a salad of romaine hearts, gorgonzola dressing and dates that was fine but nothing more, and another pizza - topped with rapini, fresh tomatoes and anchovies that was nice enough, and probably the healthiest dish of the bunch, but it made for some lousy leftovers cold, let me tell you.

budino

Dessert brought us back to another high point. Last time we had the beautiful strawberry ice cream pie pictured in the collage above. This time we had to try the Butterscotch Budino, aka butterscotch pudding - possibly their most famous dish. It comes in a glass topped with caramel sauce and lightly sweetened whipped cream, with two little pine nut and rosemary cookies on the side. It was delicious (and the two boys I was with devoured it) but I was partial to the caramel copetta - a sundae of the creamiest, richest, salted caramel ice cream imaginable, topped with a caramel sauce, salted spanish peanuts, and marshmallow cream.

A little bird told me they're opening in Newport Beach on PCH later this year (no opening date is targeted, but I'd bet on Summer) and they've opened a "Scuola di Pizza" teaching cooking classes in their LA location.

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

Photo Credit: Since they wouldn't let me take my own photos the Butterscotch Budino photo is courtesy of Jess Lander.

6 comments:

  1. Wow... that totally sucks about the photography. I'm looking at my Babbo pictures with new respect. I've been tempted to try PM on my visits home, but neither Babbo or Lupa blew me away and I don't have high hopes for PM. Hope you post about that Butterscotch Budino when you try the recipe!

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  2. That is weird about the photos! The clam pizza sounds interesting. I'm hosting dinner Saturday, might have to try the dessert recipe. I love butterscotch.

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  3. "Unauthorized food blogging"? I'd like to hear what Batali actually has to say about that. It just seems foolish - piss off the people who could be your biggest fans. In this day, there's no way to successfully stifle the word of mouth; you just have to make it work FOR you.

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  4. Well we certainly don't want Alice Q. Foodie to spout any vituperatives against Batali! :) Interesting article about his feelings towards blogging. But surely he realizes that nothing is sacred any more?!

    At first I was kind of annoyed hearing this, but in a strange way I sort of like it. As a photographer, I guess that makes me a hypocrite!

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  5. I have been dying to try mozza - i was a big campanile fan when i lived in l.a. very jealous!

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  6. Maybe I've turned into some grouchy old lady but seriously unauthorized food blogging?! Get a grip Pizzeria Mozza.

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