Mozza is a classic, Mozza can be very useful, but despite whatever your in-flight airline magazine’s “Spotlight on Los Angeles” says, Pizzeria Mozza just isn’t the best of the best anymore. Maybe that was the case for the decade after it opened in 2006, when Nancy Silverton was still sweating by the oven or chopping the chopped salad. We haven’t seen her at the pizzeria in years, and that’s fine. Nancy is busy! She’s got the mozzarella bar to manage next door at the Osteria, meat to grill at Chi Spacca, rigatoni to bake at The Barish, some sort of outpost to oversee in Orange County, and, according to her Chef’s Table episode, a lovely home in Italy to invite chef friends to. Whether or not Nancy’s absence has anything to do with it, the pizzeria doesn’t wow us like it used to.
That’s partially because there’s so much other great pizza in town now. But mostly because the pizza at Mozza is a little boring, and the other menu items range from meh to good. We’ll start with the good. The meatballs al forno come out in scalding hot tomato sauce with a tower of cheesy, chewy sesame bread, and somehow remain delicate. And you must get the burratina antipasti, which is essentially a plump mozzarella ball (presumably made next door at the Osteria) resting on top of braised leeks and garlic toast. If you ordered just that and a glass of wine, you’d leave very happy. And that’s because the other stuff is anticlimactic.
The crust on the pies is puffy, crunchy, and light, but the tomato sauce on the margherita isn’t memorable, and, while you can taste the quality in the toppings on the other pies, we’d rather eat them on their own. If you make this reservation weeks in advance, the pizza will underwhelm you. Meanwhile, Nancy’s Famous Chopped Salad used to burst with flavor and fresh produce, but the last time we had it, the iceberg and radicchio were so wet the lettuces didn’t absorb any of the dressing.
Let us be very clear. Pizzeria Mozza is good. The pizzas are built beautifully, most of them taste like you want them to, and you’ll walk out of that door satisfied. The space is classy yet casual. Maybe even demure. It doesn’t draw attention to itself, and is suitable for anything from a first date to a casual business meeting, to an impromptu solo dinner at the bar after a nice little trip to Wi Spa. But if you’re looking for spectacular pizza or are celebrating something, or someone, Mozza might let you down.
Perhaps we’re being too hard about all this but, this is pizza after all, and you deserve the truth. And the truth is that Pizzeria Mozza is not the best pizza and that’s alright. Because it’s still an LA classic with pretty good food in a relaxed, welcoming environment. We don’t think it’s going anywhere soon.
Chicken Liver Crostini
While this is an objectively delicious platter of toasts topped with chicken liver and pancetta, it’s not exceptional, and you’re better off saving yourself for the pizzas.
The best appetizer here (and also a cross-over with the Osteria next door) this is a must order. Garlic toast comes topped with plenty of olive oil, braised leeks, and housemade burrata. Delicious.
When this chopped salad hits, it’s one of the best salads in LA. Unfortunately, it’s inconsistent. Sometimes the iceberg and radicchio are so wet, the oregano vinaigrette and other toppings (provolone, salami, tomatoes, onion) don’t come together, and you’re left with a watery, bland salad.
Goat Cheese Pizza
This pie is great, even if you’re over the whole bacon-on-everything thing. The goat cheese and leeks give it just a hint of sweetness and bacon is, well, bacon. Everything comes together perfectly and you’re going to want to hoard it for yourself.
When a white pizza is done right, it can be the star of the show. And at Pizzeria Mozza, it’s definitely a headliner. White pizza can only really work if you have excellent cheese and at Mozza, it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone that they do.
Fennel Sausage Pizza
Unfortunately, these delicious toppings (fennel sausage, red onion, scallion) just don’t adhere to the mozzarella. But that sausage is no joke. Can we get a bowl of that? To go?
While this classic is the best way to experience Nancy’s obsession with bread (the crust crackles and puffs perfectly), the tomato sauce is bland. Stick with the more fun pizzas.
This thing is magic. And also incredibly simple. Savory from the butterscotch, sweet from the marshmallow, salty from the sea salt. And step aside, sugar plums. Those little rosemary cookies on the side are actually what dance in children’s heads at night.