Thursday, December 07, 2006

Spotlight on L.A. : Mario Travels West!

"Mozza" Collaboration Produces LA's Best Pizza, Period.

It was just a matter of time the look, feel and taste of a trendy NYC restaurant landed in Los Angeles… and low and behold, it’s arrived.

Sure, Nancy Silverton is well known for her stellar Campanile, but why did it take this long for partners Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich to make their way west?

Whatever the reason, it has been worth the wait.

Mozza is truly a slice of heaven… and believe it or not, Nancy and Mario have reinvented the pizza.

Walking into Mozza, I immediately likened the room to something you might discover in the Grenwich Village area of New York. The lights are reminiscent of Mario’s OTTO, and the room painted boldly.

NOTE: For those of you wanting to experience Mozza soon, walk away from the computer now and call for a reservation… you’re gonna need it.

The menu at Mozza also reminds you of OTTO, except the dishes are wonderfully different. There are no pasta dishes at Mozza (the Osteria opens in a few months) but the menu is loaded with antipasti, insalate, sliced cured meats, bruschette, panini… and of course… incredible pizza.

Antipasti is far from normal at Mozza, with selections that range from crispy, delectable Fried Squash Bottoms with Ricotta… to more tradidtional Roasted Beets with Hazelnuts. Salad dishes are appealing, but with the delicious meats including Coppa, Lardo (made from the back of the pig and is prepared by first cutting the meat and treating the individual pieces with salt and spices such as cinnamon) and Proscuitto, as well as White Bean Bruschette… well, you need a bigger stomach.

As good as all this stuff is, the pizza is the star. One pizza is individual sized (cut into 4 nice sized pieces) but if you don’t order several and share, you’ll miss the boat.

At the top of the list you’ll find a simple tomato, olive oil and oregano version… and then it gets fantastic. Fennel sausage, panna and red onion…. Littleneck clams, garlic, oregano and cheese….Lambs quarters with cacao di roma…. Long cooked broccoli, caciocavallo and pepperocini…. Lardo, rosemary and olive oil… spicy salami, mozzarella and chilis…. and the list goes on and on.

I wish I could liken this pizza to another, but honestly it isn’t quite like anything I have ever had. The toppings are well seasoned and perfect.. and the tomato sauce sweetened unmistakably by San Marzano tomatoes… but the crust is magnificent. Imagine a two layered thin and crispy/chewy pastry dough. Not to tough… and just the right balance of flavor to hold what’s on top. It’s unique… and downright delicious.
I am giddy that Mozza has opened to such acclaim, and even happier that I’ll have a taste of NYC while on business here in LA… I only wish they’d open one on the Upper West Side!

Enjoy Mozza. It’s a gem of a spot that will certainly become a LA mainstay.