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By Steven Li on 2007-02-25

February 25, 2007


Dad’s visit from Hawaii this weekend was a perfect excuse to pay a visit to Batali and Silverton’s Mozza! I called in for lunch reservations a few weeks ago, but they were near booked with the only openings for two at 3pm and 11pm. However the man on the phone was kind enough to suggest that we come right before they opened to score a seat at the bar. And that we did.

We arrived around 11:45, just 15 minutes prior to the restaurant’s noon opening, and were the third group in line. Apparently it was everyone’s first visit to Mozza, and all were equally excited. Whispers of burrata, lardo and sage hovered in the air and every minute or so one would pop up on their toes, looking eagerly in the glass windows as the staff prepared for the day. Finally, we heard the clicks of the double doors unlocking and we all rushed in.

My dad and I strategically seated ourselves right in front of the pizza constructing action, between an elderly couple that drove in all the way from San Diego and a two women decked out in rather flashy attire, a la Hollywood. Famished from a lack of breakfast, I tore into the trio of breadsticks placed at our table. Simple, done right, and nothing out of the ordinary.

I started out with the aqua fresca of the day, a sparkling blood orange limonata ($5). It’s a bit pricey for such a simple drink, but oh heck, I was in such a good mood, who really cares. The drink was presented with the pale yellow limonata on the bottom half and the sparkling blood orange floating on top. Sweetened just so, crisp and fruity, it was perfect start to the meal.

Soon came the winter caprese ($12), little did I know that this would be my favorite part of the meal. The burrata was devilishly buttery soft and pure white, completely innocent in appearance. Yet when paired with pesto and a quartet of roasted cherry tomatoes, I swear it was complete sin. The tomatoes simply busted open in your mouth, spilling sweet, juicy innards, melting into the pillowy cuts of burrata. I could only wish that all caprese salads were this decadent.

Most pizzas come cut into slices of four, but my egg, guanciale, radicchio & bagna cauda ($13) came whole and uncut to preserve the glory of the barely cooked yolk. I snapped a shot (just for you!) and returned it back to the kitchen to have it sliced. The waiter came back a minute later, a smile on his face, “chef couldn’t bear to break the yolk, so he sliced around it.” What could I do but smile in return? It was salty pizza, but salty in a good way. Thin slices of crisp fired guanciale, an unsmoked bacon made for pig cheeks, lay round with the slightly bitter touch of radicchio and bagna cauda, heavy in anchovy, a flavor calling my name. Thin, crisp slices with a crust, lovingly charred and basking in generous doses of a rich olive oil and a cornmeal dusted bottom. Thick or thin pizzas, I love them all, just don’t give my something that hovers in between :)

I took great joy from eating a fair share of dad’s burrata, escarole & braised bacon ($15). The sight of more burrata following up from our appetizer gave me great joy! Layer it on top of a crusty light dough and thick cuts of salty braised bacon, and the end result is pure ecstasy. I ate some of the bacon alone, and oh dear god, they are meaty, fatty and juicy little bits.

I was pretty full by the last slice of pizza. Actually I was really full, but alas, a meal is never complete without dessert! It was a call between the butterscotch budino, meyer lemon gelato pie and soffiata with pistachio gelato ($8). It was a hard decision to make. Chowhound raves center around the majestic beauty of the butterscotch budino, remarking on the layer of salted caramel that took the pudding from good to excellent. But what is soffiata? I didn’t know either. I was curious, so that’s what I decided to have. Out arrived a beautiful trio of baby profitoroles, each round of choux pastry hugging a little round of milky rich pistachio gelato. A generous scoop of the gelato sat as queen to the trio, quite dashing in appearancem adorned by tiny chopped pistachios and a light hand of tangy sweet stewed cherries. It was gorgeous! I wanted to look at it forever and take pictures, one after another, but I noticed it was melting, so I stopped. And ate. And ate. Man, did I eat!

As dad and I waddled out of Mozza an hour later, the line of people waiting for a seat at the bar numbered a good dozen. Get there early if you don’t want to wait!
“Oh man, dad. I’m so full. Where are we going now?”
“Up to you,” my dad said, “what do you feel like?”
“Let’s try the milkshakes and madelines at Milk!”
“You’re not full??”
“Well, I am, yeah, but well…I think milkshakes…help digest?”
So off we went on Beverly Blvd. I’ll report back on our sugar high soon :)

Pizzeria Mozza
641 North Highland
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 297-0101

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