Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, Lidia Bastianich, and Nancy Silverton's Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza have been extremely popular restaurants in Los Angeles, commanding queues that were hours long. So when we were recently in the area and found out on OpenTable that we could reserve seats for lunch at a time just less than a half an hour prior to arrival, we took the opportunity.
Pizzeria Mozza is a relatively small restaurant, located adjacent to the larger Osteria Mozza (open for dinner only) and Mozza2Go. Inside, light toned woods and yellows set the tone--a skylight, which was filtered with a yellow skin, provided most of the lighting. A friendly vibe was immediately set with the upbeat employees, who immediately seated us and went through the menu in detail once we told them it was our first time dining here. We found out popular items, and also some notable differentiations--pizzetta meant a smaller pizza, and that any pizza that didn't list "tomato" on it came without tomato sauce. They were extremely detail oriented, eagerly describing the preparations of daily specials and vegetables.
To start, we began with the bone marrow al forno, which came with three split pieces of bone marrow, roasted garlic, sea salt, parsley, and two pieces of crostini.
It came out so quickly from the kitchen that our waiter had to separately bring us the third piece of bone marrow, which was bubbling hot from the oven.
To enjoy the bone marrow, we tore part of the crostini, mashed a piece of roasted garlic on top, added the bone marrow, and topped the marrow with sea salt and the parsley. With everything together, the otherwise purely greasy, rich, beefy, and tender bone marrow came into full blossom, with the crusty bread, sweet garlic, salt, and bright parsley tempering the richness of the marrow and complementing its existing flavor. Make sure to enjoy this as quickly as possible--before the fats become solid, that is.
Mozza's lasagne al forno (Sunday Piatti Del Giorno, 21 USD) was also extremely delightful. Served piping hot and consisting of layers of spinach pasta, bolognese, bechamel sauce, broiled, melted cheese, and topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese, the lasagne wasn't particularly large portion-wise, but was grand in flavor. The verdant, pliable noodles paired well with the deep, meaty bolognese, creaminess of the bechamel sauce, and flavorful cheeses--all while not being dense. Every bite was pleasantly crafted and simply enjoyable.
Moving onward, we enjoyed two pizzas. First was a pizza with lamb's quarters & salame, with cacio di roma (18 USD), which was also baked with spinach. We ordered this for the inclusion of lamb's quarters, which provided some rich gaminess to the pizza, but the larger emphasis was on the peppery salame, savory cheese, and verdant spinach. The crust, meanwhile, was very crisp, puffy, and chewy--quite intriguing.
I had meant to order the premium prosciutto, rucola, tomato & mozzarella di bufala pizza, which is also made with organic tomatoes, but we got at our table instead the proscuitto di parma, rucola (arugula), tomato and mozzarella pizza (17 USD) instead. I appreciated the interplay between bright and sweet tomato, peppery arugula, fruity olive oil, and meaty prosciutto, which went well with the equally crisp, puffy, and chewy crust. This pizza, as with the other pizza, were a bit dry for my taste-- make sure you have a drink to go along with it.
After seeing Cindy of Food Makes Me Happy's strawberry gelato pie at Pizzeria Mozza and other customers' gelato pies while at the restaurant, we had to order the strawberry gelato pie with toasted spiced almonds and saba (10 USD) for dessert. Starting off with a base of freshly whipped cream and an almond biscotti crust, the pie was then filled with firmly set, naturally fruity strawberry gelato and topped with fresh strawberries marinated in saba (a sweet syrup made from grape juice), more whipped cream, and the said toasted spiced almonds. Everything was just so pleasantly combined together, yet also so simple-- a bit expensive, but tasty for sure.
Overall, simple but quality ingredients and great execution can be found in the fare at Pizzeria Mozza, alongside an immersive Italian-styled environment. If you're looking for an authentic, quality Italian meal, it's a great place to be, and is deserving of its place in the Los Angeles restaurant spotlight.
641 North Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tel: (323) 297-0101