Dec 6, 2006

Restaurant Review: Pizzeria Mozza

I normally don't review restaurants here, but I figured Pizzeria Mozza would interest a lot of people since its chef-owners are Food Network star Mario Batali and famed baker Nancy Silverton (I don't want to just call her a pastry chef when she seems to be much more than that). Batali and Silverton have collaborated on a pair of side-by-side restaurants at the corner of Melrose and Highland, but only Pizzeria Mozza is currently open (I called the number for Osteria Mozza but the message doesn't say when it's going to open.)

Marc recently took me on a special lunch date to Pizzeria Mozza, where we ordered three appetizers, two pizzas, and a dessert (we took one of the pizzas home). I loved the fried squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta (then again, I always love fried squash blossoms), but the fried rice and cheese balls (I can't remember the Italian name for them) with a bolognese sauce were disappointing - for one thing, the sauce was much more of a marinara than a bolognese. The oven-roasted olives, which came in a small bowl of sizzling oil and garlic, could have been spectacular but I was flabbergasted that they were served without bread for dipping. (The customary "bread basket" consists of three long thin breadsticks wrapped in paper.)

The pizza that we ate at the restaurant was topped with chewy littleneck clams, chopped garlic, fresh oregano, and grated parmesan and pecorino cheeses. The toppings were good, but the crust was amazing. (I had read that Silverton had worked hard on creating the perfect crust and wow, it's a good one.) She leaves a thick border, which turned out to be perfect for dipping in the olives' oil bath, though I still left feeling a bit resentful at being deprived of what would presumably have been great bread. (For the record, Silverton herself was right there, busy making pizzas, the whole time we were at the restaurant.) The pizza we took home was a simple margherita, which reheated okay and retained the great crust taste. For dessert, we shared a cup of vanilla gelato topped with espresso and served with a couple of bite-sized almond biscotti - not exactly my favorite kind of dessert but it was okay. (I would have preferred something chocolate or even tiramisu but there was nothing like that on the menu.) Add in a Diet Coke for Marc and the total with tax and tip came to just over $71, but that doesn't include the $6 valet parking fee. (The "Diet Coke" was actually a small glass bottle of "Coca-Cola Light," imported from some European country that I'm pretty sure wasn't Italy.)

With a new baby, we definitely won't be going back anytime soon, although I don't think we would have anyway. While the pizza was great, the restaurant was not only crowded (though not nearly as cramped as, say, AOC), it was also incredibly loud. I did want very much to try the salumi, or cured meats, made by Batali's father, that I had read so much about, but I couldn't because of the pregnancy. Maybe once things settle down, Marc and I will be able to check out Osteria Mozza and I'll get to try the salumi then.

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