It's not that I object to the word "foodie," but I don't like to call myself one.
Photo courtesy of men.style.com
Photo courtesy of men.style.com
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.
641 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA