Friday, June 12, 2009

Pizzeria Mozza - Late to the Pizza Party


Photo courtesy of men.style.com

It's not that I object to the word "foodie," but I don't like to call myself one.

And here's why. Real foodies have been worshipping at the twin altars of Mozza Osteria and Pizzeria Mozza (the Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, Joseph Bastianich restaurants) since they opened in November 2006.

I, on the other hand, ate at Pizzeria Mozza for the first time on Tuesday.

Here are a few of my observations:

- I was surprised at the number of young children at both restaurants. The parents of a six-year-old boy told me that their son's birthday dinner request was Mozza Osteria. He's a huge Mario Batali fan. When the waiter asked him if he wanted penne pasta with butter, he responded, "No, I'd like the lamb chops, medium rare." Instead of the Chuck E. Cheese motto, "Where a kid can be a kid," the slogan could be, "Where a kid can be a snob."

- I tried the bone marrow appetizer, and I don't get it. But I don't get pork belly either. Maybe it's because I was forced to eat fat as a child; I got in "trouble" when I carefully cut the fat off my pork chops. My dad (the one who chastised me) would no doubt suck the fat right out of those marrow bones (as one man at our table did). But he'd scoff at the price.

- They had a ramps (wild leek) pizza! I just wrote about ramps, so I was delighted to sample this hillbilly delicacy on my pizza. Now this I get, even though the taste was milder and less pungent than the ramps of my childhood in West Virginia. The ramps pizza, only available until the end of June, is also topped with pancetta, English peas and panna for $18. I MUST return before the end of the month.

- My other new favorite thing is the pizza with fried egg and asparagus. I could eat this every day.

- You won't find any pizza crust graveyards - those embarrassing piles of uneaten, inedible, doughy crust edges. Mozza's rims of charred bubbles are crisp and chewy and entirely edible. If I saw an uneaten one on someone's plate, I might even mutter, "You gonna' eat that?"


- Our group of seven had reservations, but it would have been fairly easy for a group of four to grab seats at the bar after a 15-minute wait. And, by the way, if you're going with a group, six is a perfect number because that's how many slices per pizza. We were a little relieved that the seventh person in our group was a no-show.

- It only took 25 minutes to drive from Altadena to Melrose in rush-hour traffic. It's taken me longer to drive to Alhambra for a banh mi.

- A foodie photographer in our group took flash photos of all 11 dishes, and it was very annoying. That's why I don't have any photos with this post and why I seldom write about restaurants. Please rip the camera from my hands if I ever annoy you with picture taking. Or, being the sensitive type, your disapproving look would wilt me faster than wild ramps on a hot skillet.

- The place is small - so small that there's nowhere to stand while you're waiting for your table. Don't you hate that? No matter where you go, you're in someone's way.

- I've read Yelp complaints about poor service, but our wait staff couldn't have been nicer or more attentive.

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
323-297-0101
www.mozza-la.com

55 comments:

Thinker Me said...

Food in L.A. - I'm woith you on the Foodie thing. I'm in love with food, in love with L.A. restaurants, but I didn't feel the need to throw myself at the Mozza twins either.

It's fairly over-priced but makes a good once-in-a-while indulgence.

And yes, the egg and asparagus is amazing.

*I just found your blog, BTW, LOVE IT!

dbs said...

I'm a big fan of your food reviews, and will volunteer to be your unobtrusive non flash tabletop photog any day.

The Food Librarian said...

I've been dying to try this place! Sounds fantastic. And who knew medium rare lamb was on the kids menu - just kidding! :)

Susan Carrier & said...

Thinker, Thanks for stopping by. You're right about Mozza being overpriced, but it is a nice splurge/indulgence. I can't stop thinking about that pizza with egg.

DBS, I'd love to bring you along. Maybe we can even brain scan some pizzas?

Food Librarian, The Mozza children are certainly more sophisticated than my daughter, who at 20 STILL wants to order the penne with butter and parmesan cheese.

Chrissy said...

I have never heard of this place! sounds good... Pizza w/fried egg? that is different...As far as the kid being snobby, was it his tone? You would be surprised how aware kids are.. My friend's 8 year old was quite sophisticated in what she ate.. a lot has to do w/what is served at home and what they're exposed to.

Susan C said...

Chrissy, I never woulda thought that I'd love a soft egg on a pizza so much.

I'm a little tongue-in-cheek about the kid being snotty. Actually, he was adorable and really seemed to appreciate good food. I'm just jealous after spending so many hours at Chuck E. Cheese.

Chrissy said...

Well, I can see your point,there are some little kids who are pretentious.. At the school I worked at one kid wanted lemon w/his water? sheesh!..now that little s&*( needed a spankin' lol

Jean Spitzer said...

Sounds wonderful. I'll take any nasty old bone marrow off your hands any time.

glorv1 said...

I'll take the pizza but not with the fried egg. Thx for sharing.

Desiree said...

Yum yum!
I can't wait to try it!

Margaret said...

Hey! I drove right by Mozza the last time I got lost driving in LA, which was, naturally, the last time I was in LA. But that pizza looks incredible.

pasadenapio said...

I need to get out more!

Cafe Pasadena said...

I tend to be more annoyed at people who tell me about this wunderful food or restaurant they went to, but then fail to bring me back pics!

I can see egg working on pizza...at least as much as cornmeal for crust.

How small is this joint? Room for how many customers?

Jennifer said...

The first thing that popped out at me was the fact that you were forced to eat fat?

I'm definitely not picky, but I cut off that squishy not-food crap that sticks to my precious meat.

Susan C said...

Chrissy, Reminds me of the time that I went to the parent-part of a wilderness camp. One of the teens asked me if she could bring me a glass of water. "Yes, with lemon, please," I said. My daughter just rolled her eyes. Lemon is so civilized, but we were in the wilderness.

Jean, Bone marrow definitely has a lot of fans.

Glorv1, No egg? Oh, you have to at least try it. After all, I tried the marrow.

Desiree, It would be fun to go to Mozza with you.

Margaret, What a wonderful neighborhood to get lost in. I love Melrose, from the seedy (ala Rincon Chileno) to the trendy.

PIO, Pasadena may be the center of the universe, but there's a wonderful other world out there too.

Jennifer, "Forced to eat fat" What can I say? It was a different time and a different place - West Virginia in the 60s.

altadenahiker said...

I think I know exactly what that kid looks like.

Never heard of the egg on pizza, but I love a thin crust that practically cracks to bits.

AmyR said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only kid who got a hard time for cutting the fat off meat. ;)

I've been thinking about trying one of those places out. Thanks for the detailed review.

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Petrea said...

I had the squash blossom pizza when it was in season. We also had some dreamy appetizers. It was outrageously good and outrageously priced. A once-in-a-while indulgence. I won't go often and I don't think I'd go without reservations, unless I was willing to sit at the bar.

pasadenaadjacent said...

If you take out the asparagus it sounds a lot like an egg McMuffin. I'm a snob in that I avoid Melrose Ave. To many after gallery event memories at pretentious dives with tinney (not tiny but thats true also) tables.

did you make it yesterday to the Eaglerock event?

btw: I made my first potluck dish that was actually completely consumed! No "walk of shame" lugging the leftovers BACK to the car.

Tasteless Photography said...

Egg on pizza looks glorious fattening and very tasty... yum, yum!

Susan C said...

AH "I think I know exactly what that kid looks like." The tragically hip six old? It's a breed you don't see in Pasadena, but there were several of them at Mozza.

Amy, You too about the fat? And where did you grow up? Or maybe it's just a frugality thing. Waste nothing.

Petrea, The table next to ours had that squash blossom pizza. It was a work of art. "A once in a while indulgence." For sure, but I really do think I need to go back in June for more of those ramps.

PA, Those trendy, pretentious places do give Melrose (and Melrose adjacent) a bad rep, but it's still filled lined with untrendy resaurants that have been around for decades.

I did make it to the Eagle Rock event, too late for food, but I did manage a cupcake from Auntie Em's. Very interesting crowd of artists and gardeners.

What did you make for the potluck?

TP: As soon as I saw that egg on the pizza, I knew I had to have it. But, from the comments, it sounds like that's the most controversial ingredient. Love it or hate it.

Susan C said...

Cafe Pasadena, Oops - didn't mean to bypass your comment and question. According to the NY Times, the restaurant has 40 reserved seats and 20 firt-come, first-served seats at the pizza oven or wine bar.

Double Dipped said...

ok, that pizza looks so good & i love food so much, and you blog. please visit mine at http://dontfearmyblogshere.blogspot.com/ thanks :)

Chow and Chatter said...

great blog, love the egg i ate a calzone like this in Nice

Jen said...

Nice review! Sounds wonderful. Congrats on the "blog of note"

Claire said...

Congrats for being featured on Blogger's "Blogs of Note"! Keep up the great work =)

marissa said...

you crack me up and those all sound so delicious, I need to try an egg and asparagus pizza sounds intriguing

Skippy Harris said...

I love food and I could eat it all day and this is serious.

California Girl said...

Sounds fun and delicious. What is amusing are the items found in rural diets that are now implemented into chic restaurant menus,e.g., collard greens, marrow bones (new one on me), fatback, etc. I love southern cooking but I remember when the only place you could get catfish and hush puppies were in lakeside or riverside joints where the catfish was fresh.

Fun blog. Congrats on making the "Blogs of Note" selection.

sarah said...

Loved the pizza, but it's the teeniest little place ever.

AmyR said...

I grew up in southern Ohio. :)

cookingschoolconfidential.com said...

See, this is why I should not read your blog when I am hungry - one look at that pizza and now nothing else will do!

Cheers!

TheChord said...

So another good review of that place.
That makes several folks who have enjoyed it.
I actually live quite close and should try it soon.

One thing that has always struck me about there is the parking / valet situation.
It's a busy intersection there and cars waiting for the valet's only make it worse.
There is plenty of free street parking in the neighborhood after business hours, which is when that restaurant is busiest.
It seems that people spend way too much time waiting to first park and then retrieve their car after the meal.
A half-block walk from a street parking spot would eliminate that.
Oh well. People love their pampering.
Perhaps I am also a bit jaded as I despise using valets for my modest Honda.

Thanks for the food writing.

pasadenaadjacent said...

ceasar salad.
Not from a mix...although the cheese was pre-grated and the croutons premade, I did cook the bacon, cut the lettuce and did the tossing.

Cafe Pasadena said...

SC, ok sounds like sits 60 at minimum. Doesn't sound so small as i thought. Certainly no hole n de wall joint.

Farid said...

I just came across your blog and have to say "I love it"....
I lived in L.A for a good portion of my life.Being a SNOB is part of living in L.A We moved to D.C area beacause I didn't want my kids to order Lamb chops and wear clothing just because it's made in France.
I got side tracked again .... Last time we were in L.A, we were taken to Pizzeria Mozza by my in-law's, just because everyone goes there, not beacause the food is good or anything. We did not understand the BUZZ about this place. In Arlington, VA, there is a fantastic Pizza place called "Pie-Tanza". Great food, reasonable price and friendly.And if you want to stay home and have Pizza delivered just call Joe's Pizza, another great place.
With all this said, I have to agree the Pizza with fried eggs sounds intresting. I may suggest it to my friends at Pie-Tanza and see if they can make it...
Love your Blog
Cheers

Katylui said...

Egg on Pizza in amazing! I've been eating Fiorentine (spinach and egg) pizza's for years! In season we'll put asparagus on, or works well with all sorts of other veg. Nice with tomato sauce but also great with a herby bechemel sauce on the base?

Piper Robert said...

Egg on a pizza....I'll try it. I tried fried plantains on a steak sandwich and loved it.

Forced to eat fat. Yes, I remember. Do you recall where I sat at the dinner table most of the time? By the window. Since we didn't have air conditioning, the window was open. Guess where my fat went? Whenever I had to finish my food, I would wait it out. While everyone was watching Walter Cronkite, I pitched the fat or cold green beans out the window. "My plate is empty! May I be excused?"

Do you remember our iced tea contests?

Clarity said...

Thank you for making me hungry.

Nay, making my mouth almost water.

Fried egg on a Pizza, perplexing?

Jazminn and Goth boy said...

Food is really good!Im sorta addicted to it!IFEEL YOU!!!!Later

Marcy said...

Sniff sniff...I can so smell that ramps (wild leek) pizza all the way from over here! ( Mmm ) I'll have to give a pizza with fried egg and asparagus a try. I've never had that. Thank you Susan for the visit to my blog, and for once again managing to awaken the munchie monster in me, with yet another descriptive, and refreshing post about your "Foodie" adventures! xo~

Carolyn Jung said...

I'm so glad you finally got to Pizzeria Mozza. It's probably my fave pizza place, and the only place where I eat every speck of crust. My favorite is the burrata with tomatoes and squash blossoms. The combination of flavors is just pure heaven.

Susan C said...

Double Dipped, Love your screen name!

Chow and Chatter, An egg in a calzone in Nice - Now that sounds NICE.

Thanks, Jen, Claire, Marissa and Skippy.

California Girl, The whole downscale, upscale food thing cracks me up.

Sarah, Yes, it is crowded; everything feels a bit smooshed together.

Amy, Southern, Ohio? Really? I can throw a stone to So. Oh. (SoOh - I'm trying to get that to catch on like SoHo) from my dad's house. What part?

CSC, Geesh, I'm hungry now again too just thinking about that pizza.

The Chord, I got lucky and found free parking on Melrose. It kills me to pay $10 for valet parking.

PA, You added bacon? No wonder your Caesar salad was a hit.

Cafe Pas, Not a hole in the wall, but crowded feeling.

Farid, I got a kick out of your comment, especially the part about not wanting your kids to be ordering lamb and wearing French designer clothers. I live in Altadena, where backyard chickens and goats are making a comeback, so it's always a bit of a fun culture shock to wander into the trendier parts of town.

Katylui, Sounds like you really know your food. Yum!

Robert, I'm definitely taking you and Bonnie here in September when you come out for your anniversary. I predict you'll love it. It's definitely a very So Cal experience.

Iced tea contest? You have to refresh my memory.

Clarity, Yes, oh, yes on the egg. The runnier the better.

Jazminn and Goth, I'm addicted to food too. That and oil.

Marcy, Wouldn't that be something if someone figure out how to send virutual smells? Jim Comstock wouldn't have had to stink up all those WV post offices.

Carolyn, That settles it. I will definitely have to try the squash blossom pizza next time. You haven't steered me wrong yet.

Tony said...

I think it's hysterical that bone marrow is "expensive." It's pretty much the cheapest food possible; it's what's left over when there's no meat left!!

I have a number of fresh ham slices (you'd be surprised how much meat 'half a pig' is...) and after grilling them I've got a nice little marrow-snack for myself.

/Perhaps I'm not charging enough?
//Egg pizza sounds excellent.

Cafe Observer said...

The Pizza bait has been swallowed by a lot of visitors here.

Now, SC, when are you gonna post sumthing around Sukiyaki? Or, at least give me the best place for Sukiyaki in these parts.

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Stephen Shocket said...

I recently went to Pizzeria Mozza with two others and had to wait maybe ten or 15 minutes longer than expected - the manager kept sending us free dishes (all DELICIOUS) so we wouldn't be upset or anything. The pizzas were fantastic and I wouldn't have been upset waiting a little longer without any of the free food.

Susan C said...

Tony, Yea, the whole pricey bone marrow thing just cracks me up. I'm just waiting form someone to yell, "The emperor has no clothes," (or at least no apron).

I really like your blog.

CO, Ah So, sukiyaki. I make a mean sukiyaky, but only because I buy killer sukiyaki sauce from the church ladies at the Pasadena Buddhist Church. When I make my own, family complains, "What happened to the sauce?"

Stephen, What a wonderful story. I love places like that. I don't consider 10-15 minutes out of line. When it gets to be an hour wait with reservations, I resent it when I'm told, "You may wait in the bar and have a [double digit priced] drink."

altadenahiker said...

Your article in LA Times Home section was fabulous.

Well done, as always.

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Beth said...

Yum! sounds delish

Vanessa said...

Yuuuuuummmmmm !!!!!!!! lovely dishes...I want it :D

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