>> Monday, November 19, 2012
This is the second post in the Great Eats in Los Angeles with the Family Trip Series. Other posts in this series include 101 Noodle Express.
It's not everyday that someone, especially someone my father's age, says, "this is the best pizza I've ever had in my life."
My father's not a huge fan of pizza. His idea of pizza comes from the Little Caesar's take-out we ate growing up (buy one, get another one for an extra $4!), and the frozen pizzas my mom periodically will buy and heat up at home.
He's an easy-going guy, however, and did not complain one bit when I told the family we were going to a pizza restaurant for lunch (yes, surprise, surprise, they all put me in charge of planning our meals during this trip).
This meal was a revelation for him (and me too!). The pizza at Pizzeria Mozza is incredible. Even though I've had a lot more really, really good pizza, I'm inclined to say it also ranks among the best pizza I've ever had.
Pizzeria Mozza is a collaboration between Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich, three well-established food industry gurus. We're generally huge fans of restaurants from Batali and Bastianich, so it's no surprise that this place would churn out really, really good food.
Nancy Silverton is the co-founder and head baker at La Brea Bakery. She was also one of the judges for Project Food Blog Competition, which is when I first learned who she was.
It's not very often that every single dish you order is excellent. We really felt that way about the food at Pizzeria Mozza. We began with the Calamari al forno, which came with fagioli, tomatoes & oregano. ($12). The flavors of the calamari, tomatoes, and beans came together beautifully, and the calamari itself was cooked just right - not a hair too rubbery.
We also got some Spicy Corn Al Forno with Parmigiano, which was awesome. It's a bit messy to eat. Bryan hates getting his hands dirty, so he foolishly tried to eat it with a fork and knife. The buttery corn slipped right off his plate and landed on the ground.
My mom (in all her wisdom), was more skilled and offered to cut up the rest of the corn for Bryan. What a nice mom!
The simple arugula and mushroom salad (Rucola, Funghi & Piave $14) came with fresh ingredients and was solid. And then the pizza started to come. Our waiter recommended the Fennel Sausage Pizza ($17), his favorite on the entire menu. We are so glad we took his advice. The house-made fennel sausage itself is fantastic and basically defined the pizza. This was definitely one of the favorites on the table.
I loved the doughy, crispy crust of this pizza. It's not surprising that the pizza dough is good, considering that Nancy Silverton made her name as a baker.
My sister ordered the Pizza alla benno, which comes with speck, pineapple, jalapeño, mozzarella and tomato. The quality of all the ingredients was excellent, and people enjoyed this one as well (though I did not have a chance to try it).My brother-in-law chose the White Anchovy, Tomato and Fresno Chiles pizza. Unlike traditional anchovy pizza, which uses the salty black anchovies, this pizza came with vinegary, marinated white anchovies. It added more of a bright note to the entire pizza, yet still plenty of umami. My personal favorite pizza was the one I chose: the simple Margherita with mozzarella, tomato & basil. I'm a sucker for this simple pie, but when the ingredients are good, there's nothing that's better. The mozzarella on this pie was outstanding. I have no idea where they source their mozzarella, but it totally made the pie. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the crust is delicious, nor the fact that they've cooked this at ultra high heat in their special brick ovens.
Even though we were crazy full, everyone gobbled this pizza up.
It's no surprise why this restaurant, which started out as a fun side venture, became one of the hottest reservations in LA when it first opened in 2008. Fresh, high quality ingredients coupled with a fantastic crust = very, very enjoyable pizzas.
This food here is really, really good. I hazard to say the pizza is among the best pizza I've had in the US (though, to be fair, I haven't tried that much pizza outside of Boston except for a couple signature pies in Chicago and New York). I love their use of fresh ingredients, and you can't beat the crust.
It's not just the pizza that's good though. Every single appetizer we ordered was excellent as well. After all, you also have Mario Batali's extensive knowledge of Italian food expressed all over the menu.
I would most definitely consider returning if I am ever back in Los Angeles. Heck, if this place were closer to me, it would likely become a regular haunt.
Thankfully, Boston has its own share of excellent pizza places, and I have several personal favorites that I can visit at a moment's notice.
641 N Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036